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The Dellow Centre, London, 18 June 2017

Arriving at The Dellow Centre, life drawing group organiser, Tim was only half-joking when he said it could be just the two of us. With temperatures above 30°C, he’d seen artist numbers had melted away at other groups. Indeed, when I commenced my first 10-minute standing pose, there were two artists drawing me – Tim plus one other. By the time my next 10-minute pose began, the tally was up to four, and when I followed it seated on a chair with arms crooked for 20-minutes, there were six.

At the end of that third pose, the sweat was pouring off me. I closed the first half with another 10-minutes on the chair – now for seven artists – but this time I loosened my body to keep it cooler. A small heater in the room had been reset to blow out cold air, and I’d tilted it slightly in my favour. The price exacted for slouching and leaning back was an unpleasantly stiff neck, but some nice portrait work was the result. My nudity for most artists seemed immaterial at this point.

After tea and Jaffa Cakes, we resumed with a 15-minute standing pose. To conclude the session, I reclined for 35-minutes with one knee raised and both hands upon my torso. All seven artists had started drawing me but, from around the midway point, a succession of mercurial and occasional clattering disappearances meant that by the end there were just three. My limbs had all died on me and it took me a few minutes to stand again. Nonetheless… a pleasant Sunday afternoon.

83a Geffrye Street, London, 13 June 2017

It was a perfect evening for life drawing. Warm enough for the window upstairs at 83a Geffrye Street, Hoxton to be opened wide for fresh air, yet mellow enough for nature’s temperature control to find its ideal level without irksome draughts. This pleasantness might have tempted some to follow outdoor pursuits, but about two-thirds of the seats were taken by the end of my opening 10-minutes in a standing posture.

After this first pose, I stood for 3-minutes and 2-minutes, knelt for two 1-minute poses and a 5-minute pose then was back on two feet for a further 5-minute pose. It felt nice to be working here in the round for a laid-back crowd of young artists; not overdoing it, but keeping the shapes interesting and diverse. I closed the first half with a 15-minute semi-reclining pose, followed by 15-minutes seated on the floor.

During the interval I removed my white sheet from the central space so a trestle table could be brought forth and spread lavishly with assorted breads and dips. Once these had been consumed, we completed the session with two 30-minute poses. First I sat upon a stool in a manner that utterly numbed my left leg and, having done so, had no choice but to finish in a full recline. Another great London Life Drawing evening.

The Conservatoire, Blackheath, 12 June 2017

It doesn’t take much shifting for a simple, sustainable pose to become challenging or unnecessarily achy. On Monday evening, at The Conservatoire, I was asked for six poses: three of 1-minute, one each of 5-minutes and 10-minutes, and a long pose for the rest of the evening. I managed to make half of them harder than they should have been and I think that’s partly because I have really come to love working here for this group and its tutor, Victoria Rance. They inspire me to try more.

For the first pose, I balanced on one leg, clutching my left foot behind me with my left hand and raising my right arm out in front. It’s a straightforward pose for most models but I have a high centre of gravity and spindly legs, so I was a tad trembly throughout. Standing, kneeling, standing followed – all without complication – but more trickiness came when I slouched diagonally on a high chair, with my left arm dangling back over the top of my head.

Without the extended limb, that 10-minute pose would have been easy. Inexplicably, however, within a few moments it went completely numb and became a dead weight bearing down through my angled neck. After about five minutes of this, the pain was horrible and I had to try shaking the arm back to life. We completed the full time, or maybe stopped a minute short, but I’ve never before experienced such difficulty with any pose this short.

For the long pose, Victoria asked me to curl up on my side in a foetal position whilst artists stood in a semi-circle around me. I opened the pose out a little, otherwise one would see just the top of my head, and another only my derrière. It should have been very comfortable – and mostly was – except I had placed my head on my left biceps, and twisted the other hand under my chin. Two timely stretch breaks kept the aches at bay, however. At the end, it was great to see the diversity of works created.

Garrett Centre, London, 9 June 2017

Esther was originally given this booking, whereas I was due to be at Garrett Centre on Wednesday the week before. A change of circumstances, however, made it a tad problematic for Esther, so I suggested a swap. The organiser of both groups, Adrian Dutton, was agreeable to the idea, and so it came to pass that I returned for another Friday evening’s long-pose session.

Long poses are never much of a joy, but the shorter warm-up poses here can be fun. Working in the round for about two dozen artists, I was asked to provide three poses of 5-minutes and one of 8-minutes. I stood dramatically then semi-reclined, stood up elegantly and sat openly. For the long pose I opted to stand with my left hand on my belly and my right hand on the back of my neck.

I guess I was on my feet from around 7:25pm to 8pm, and then after an interval, from 8:25pm to 9:30pm. I took two stretch breaks during that latter hour. The first of these was especially needed as my raised elbow had inexplicably become a heavy, painful burden. After restoring normal sensation, I was fine through to the close. Such is the occasional unpredictability of the body. Life modelling continues to reveal new truths.

Green Rooms, London, 7 June 2017

Green Rooms describes itself online as “the UK’s first arts hotel, a social enterprise that offers affordable accommodation in a beautiful setting that inspires creativity.” It is also the latest venue to host The Moon and Nude for monthly life drawing groups. Esther and I travelled up to Wood Green, north London for our first experience of the place, and to début life modelling there as a duo.

We would be working in the third floor Gallery – a cavernous space with a high ceiling and large skylight, ornamented with Art Deco styled glass. Its openness could easily provide for a circle of thirty or forty artists but on this occasion we would be posing for seventeen – a healthy congregation, with room to move around. We began: 5-minutes standing, 10 standing, 15 with Esther standing and me embracing one of her legs.

The first half ended with Esther reclining for 20-minutes while I sat tenderly at her side. Recent warm spring temperatures had dropped this evening and we felt a slight chill in the last few minutes before the interval. Heaters were duly brought forth for our closing 50-minute pose, in which we sat side by side on a large bag of hotel laundry. Only the duration made this one less comfortable. The session itself had been a pleasure.


The Old Fire Station, Hockley, 6 June 2017

In the Essex village of Hockley, about 6 miles to the north of Southend, a life drawing gem has emerged: cut, polished and sparkling. It was my privilege and pleasure to be booked as model for the first ever session of Hockley Life Drawing at The Old Fire Station – home to Hockley Parish Council. Upon arriving, I found chairs in a circle, a sheet awaiting me at the centre, and a superb buffet of refreshments for the interval.

If I’d been slightly apprehensive, it was because one can never be sure what teething troubles might beset a start-up group, or whether anyone would even come to draw. I need not have worried as 16 artists had already expressed interest, and all turned-up on the evening. We opened dynamically with no fewer than ten 1-minute poses, then lengthened to four of 5-minutes, before ending the first half with a 10-minute pose.

Tea, coffee, beer and wine, plus a selection of cheese and biscuits were taken during our break, after which I resumed with two more 10-minute poses. My dynamic poses had been a tad challenging to draw so, “by popular demand”, I made the first of these quite plain. The session ended with me seated on a stool for 20-minutes. It had been a joy to work here, and also to chat with so many nice people. I hope to return.

East Croydon United Reform Church, 3 June 2017

A Friday night performance with Monsterlune and the bugs, followed by socialising, drink and convoluted Night Bus peregrinations, meant I didn’t get to bed till quarter to three on Saturday morning. Ordinarily, this would have been fine ahead of a weekend lay-in, but his time I’d blearily set my alarm for quarter to eight. I figured that was the latest I could leave it and still travel south in time to start modelling for Croydon Life Drawing Group at 9:30am.

Mercifully, I felt much less of a zombie when I woke than I did just five hours earlier. I was able to twist, stretch and exert myself for the opening short poses of 5-minutes, 5, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1-minute, working with my back to the wall for an arc of about 20-25 artists. Sleepiness only caught up with me during the next 16-minute seated pose. I flickered my way through it with heavy eyelids, before getting back to my feet for the 16-minute standing pose that concluded our first half.

Group organiser, Francis Wardale, demonstrated the semi-reclining pose he wanted me to hold for the hour and a half after our tea break. He’d seen images I’d blogged of it from Wanstead the previous week. It’s a lovely pose but one that’s guaranteed to result in numb arms. Even with a stretch break every 20-25 minutes, I found myself in a little discomfort. On the plus side, it ensured that though my limbs were asleep, the rest of me would remain keenly awake – and some very nice art would be the result.