Thursday, January 17, 2013

Drawing from the life

For the first time in years, yesterday I did some life drawing. When I mentioned to someone later how exhausted I felt, he said what could be tiring about being with a naked body and a pencil. Life drawing demands absolute focus and concentration, to be relaxed and yet controlled, assessing, measuring and marking. This is mentally, and to an extent, physically wearing.

Our usually garrulous class fell into the silent, rapt attention, like a flock of rooks at roost.

Our model Dave, who had never posed before, was exceptional, perhaps because he was new to it. 10 x 1 minute poses were followed by 2 x 50 minutes.  He seemed staggered by the spontaneous round of applause we gave him and happily booked himself in for next week.

All of which took me back to my Foundation year at Brighton Poly, as was, where the majority of the life models were female. The one young male model we had kept his knickers on, which was puzzling. Evidently, they were concerned about arousal issues... Our Dave kept his pants on, too. Which was fine. Total nudity may have been a step too far for a group of, mostly, 60-80 year old ladies, but had he been totally nude I doubt that arousal would have been likely. 

All of which tied in serendipitously with a good Sunday Times article a couple of Sundays ago, by AA Gill (not my favourite) who organised a life drawing session for himself and other notable artists. At the end Emma Sergeant, the notable figurative painter, said "Amazing, isn't it? The feeling, the silence a nude body gives to a room." Spot on.

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