I hinted at this in a post late last year. I tentatively mentioned to idea to my wife, who was surprisingly encouraging about it. I had intended to go last weekend, but after a Hellish week at work I just wanted to stay in bed on Saturday morning. This weekend, however, I gave myself a kick up the proverbial and went along.
So, for those who don’t know how these things work:
In my area the life drawing group meets in Lancaster’s Storey Institute, which is now a public building in the city centre, housing cafes , meeting rooms, studios and a lecture theatre. For those in the UK – one of these studios was seen being used as a practise space by Helen Skelton and partner in the recent series of ‘Strictly’
The group meets twice a week. Obviously because I work I can’t do Wednesday afternoons but there is no commitment in any case. The deal is that you can turn up for any session, pay £10 as a contribution towards room and model hire. If you don’t have your own easel or materials then some are available.
Seating is arranged in a circle around a podium where the model poses. At the appointed time the model strips naked and assume the first pose. In the case of this group there are:
4 x 5 minute ‘warm-up’ poses, then two 20 minute poses. Then there is a break for coffee and a biscuit (included in the price) before a final 40 minute pose.
Our model was a man called Neil, who was around my age.
So, how was it?
Well, the group organiser spotted the new face and came over for a chat before we started and to ask if I needed any materials and asked about my background. He put me completely at ease about my newbie status.
Sitting next to me was another relative newbie, an older lady who had travelled from Clitheroe (about 40 miles) and had only been a couple of times before. She was lovely and we had at least one thing in common – we had both been on art weekends at Alston Hall college up until it closed.
Then Neil appeared and dropped his robe and assumed the first pose. I half expected it to feel a bit weird but it wasn’t at all. I instantly forgot this was a naked person and he became just another object to draw. The 5 minute poses seemed to fly past, but much to my surprise I was happier with my drawings from these than from the longer poses later.
For one of the twenty-minute poses Neil had his back to me, which was tricky to draw simply because the light was quite flat and rendered his back rather featureless – no shadows to highlight his spine or shoulder blades.
The longest pose (40 minutes) was Neil lying on his back with one knee raised. This was a fairly easy pose to draw except my position meant the perspective was a bit weird.
At the end everyone just said a friendly goodbye and departed. One gentleman did engage me in conversation as I was leaving, just to say welcome.
There had been around 15 – 20 artists in the session, ranging from students to pensioners. About two-thirds were female.
- It didn’t feel remotely weird. In fact I found the whole process delightfully relaxing and it was lovely to actualy focus properly for two hours.
- I was, however, relieved that the model for my first session was male. I would otherwise have been a little concerned that my motives for being there might have been under suspicion. We middle-aged men are apparently all perverts and not to be trusted – just read any article in the Guardian if you have doubts.
- The Storey does great coffee.
Would I go again? Yes I will. It won’t be every week. It is a quarter of my weekend after all, and once gardening season picks up I will want to be at home. But I aim to go at least once per month.
In order to give myself an ‘out’ in case of any unwanted social invites for a group lunch, I had booked a haircut. So I went along and got my hair cut by the beautiful Sian and was actually feeling quite chatty because of my relaxing morning. Then I met up with my wife who had just arrived outside and was fussing two friendly dogs whose ‘dad’ was also getting his hair cut. We decided to try a new Japanese/Hawaiian Bento place in the city for lunch, which was actually rather lovely. Almost next door is an Indian deli where we bought my intended evening meal for tonight, and had a chat with the young lad behind the counter.
By this time I was feeling well and truly peopled-out, so we went home where I spent the rest of the day hiding with a book and quietly gibbering to myself….
A picture from the garden this weekend, Argyroderma testiculare. This is not a Freudian choice because of the above. Honest….: