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Mall Galleries, London, 15 June 2018

On a mellow late-spring evening at Mall Galleries, I was in the mood to chance a few aches and pains in the pursuit of better poses. I would only be required to provide four, each to be sustained for 30-minutes, so I wouldn’t get too carried away – just an extra arm reach here, a extra lean there, more of a head tilt perhaps…

I think slightly fewer Hesketh Hubbard Art Society artists were with me compared to the three female models on 15-minutes, long and portrait poses, but that never makes me envious, just more determined to do well for those who’ve opted to draw me. First I stood reaching out in a stride, then sat leaning forward with legs extended.

After a break I sat leaning back upon my wrists, then closed with a familiar favourite of one arm across my head and the other behind my back. The only previous time I tried holding the latter for 30-minutes my arm went numb after 25 and I was left balancing a dead weight. History repeated itself here, so now know my limit for that pose!

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Life drawing @ Telegraph Hill, 6 June 2018

Life drawing@Telegraph Hill has relocated from the Telegraph Hill Centre to the nearby home of its organiser, Frances. This was an inspired decision as Frances has a perfectly suitable room and by cutting her expenses she has been able to halve the cost for artists. Everybody wins, except the Centre, though it always seems busy.

Unfortunately due to circumstances wholly unrelated to life modelling, I wasn’t able to enjoy the session as much as I otherwise would have. Frances noticed that I was out of sorts from the moment I arrived but was both discreet and considerate. We started at 7:30pm with poses of 5-minutes, 5, 10, 15 and 20-minutes up to half-time.

I’m not aware that my mental distraction had a detrimental impact on the quality of my poses, but certainly my mind was elsewhere throughout. After our break for teas, chat and cat-stroking, we closed with a single long-pose of 40 minutes. I thought I would be original by laying with my legs up on a seat, but apparently that’s the norm here!

Thus, we concluded and I had to make a speedy exit. It’s a shame because everyone was so friendly and it had been a lovely warm day… although I accepted the offer of a heater about 20 minutes from the end. It had been good to experience the group in its new setting; I hope one day I’ll be better able to appreciate it even more.

cave, London, 5 June 2018

Good to see yet more new faces this month joining the merry group of artists at cave in Pimlico. As ever, head cave-dweller Karen cheerfully made each one feel welcome and dispensed art materials before calling the familiar pose times – five of 1-minute to get us warmed-up, then two of 5-minutes and two of 10-minutes.

For the first 10-minute pose I sat on a low stool and leaned back with my head on the floor. This inversion caused a certain number of vexed sighs but also resulted in some effective sketches. As a compassion to us all I kept the next poses simple. Red wine and scones with jam were dispensed during our interval – oh, I do like it here…

The session ended with two sitting poses of 20-25 minutes-ish. It hadn’t been hot day yet it was warm enough for the door to remain open all evening – perfect conditions to model. I can’t recall all the CDs that were part-played as background music but it was pleasing to hear a few tracks from The Stones Roses debut again. It’s been ages!

Arts Theatre, London, 3 June 2018

After a couple of weeks away from London, I resumed modelling exactly how I had left it – at a portrait session for City Academy, on the top floor of Arts Theatre. We were expecting eleven students yet had only two with just a minute to go until our 10:30am start time. A flurry of latecomers brought that total to eight. As per three weeks ago, this was to be a full day session finishing at 4:30pm with an hour for lunch.

Aside from a few minor variations in pose times, the format of this class was identical to the previous one. The only significant difference was climate. Temperatures were in the high 20s; there was very little breeze outside and even less air conditioning inside. Portrait work can be soporific at the best of times, but these circumstances made for an even tougher test. I just about got through it without nodding off… I think!

Arts Theatre, London, 13 May 2018

On Sunday I spent five hours sitting motionless in front of eight artists with easels for a City Academy portrait drawing session at Arts Theatre. Two and half hours in the morning, an hour’s break for lunch, then a further two and half hours for the afternoon. The session opened with four 5-minute warm-ups: first drawing me without looking at the paper, next drawing me but only glancing at the paper to position the pencil, then drawing me upside down, and finally drawing each other.

Drawings were stuck to a wall after each few poses so gradually one end of the room became wallpapered with my face. The first half proceeded with poses of 15-minutes, 20, 30, and 10-minutes. Creative freedom for me was zero – artists swapped position after every pose so it would have been counterproductive if I’d significantly altered the direction of my gaze each time too. My biggest challenge was simply staying awake. More than once I lapsed into a battle of wills with my own heavy eyelids.

Second half pose lengths were 15-minutes that extended to 20, then 20-minutes for a first attempt with charcoals, followed by another 15-minutes that extended to 20, then 30-minutes on ‘charcoal technique’ – erasing areas of light from a fully charcoal-black page – and finally, 20-minutes for artists to draw in any way they pleased. Tuition was provided in a range of techniques, so the session was more about gaining experience than seeing immediate improvements. Me? I just sat and watched it all…

Workers’ playtime, London, 8 May 2018

I arrived twenty minutes early at the studio of an architecture practice in south London for my debut as life model with Figuration – creative community makers of art events. As the working day ended, office staff began to set out drawing materials and prepare a mouth-watering buffet of grapes, cheeses, crackers and wine. A little before 6pm we were joined by our tutor Martin, and when the hour came… everyone descended upon the refreshments! It was just too tempting. I even partook of the Rioja myself.

So the life drawing itself started 25 minutes late, but in very fine spirits. It was a warm evening. Martin had brought music and selected a mellow, upbeat bossa nova playlist. We opened with poses of 5-minutes, 10, 12-minutes with me standing or seated on a long boardroom-style table while those drawing me sat either side. Martin allowed me to pick the poses and adapted his tuition accordingly, pointing out angles, alignments, negative space and weight distribution – just a light touch to get people thinking.

Particular consideration was given to the use of colour – those that stand forward, and those that create depth. The second half also contrived practice for weaker hands as I stood for 12-minutes, then back on favoured hands I sat twice for 10-minutes, bringing the session to a close. The atmosphere in the room remained friendly, communicative and relaxed throughout; hopefully that’s how it is during working hours too. Certainly it made for one of the nicest corporate bookings I’ve been given.

cave, London, 1 May 2018

Life drawing at cave has moved from Thursday evenings to Tuesdays, and as a result my booking for the end of May became two: first at the beginning of May then another at the beginning of June. I arrived early, rang the outer bell, and peeped Chad-like over the gate. As always, I was greeted warmly by cave supremo, Karen and we bantered whilst waiting for artists to breeze in. When all had settled, I started with short poses.

Five 1-minutes poses, two 5-minute poses and two 10-minute poses occupied the first half. With my back to a wall I went through a semi-spontaneous repertoire of standing, kneeling, squatting and semi-reclining positions. At the interval, we all got mugs of tea and – pure bliss – mini scones with fresh clotted cream and jam. Such an unexpected treat… it’s the simple pleasures. Two 25-minute poses occupied the second half.

The only basic positions I hadn’t presented thus far were sitting and laying down. Duly I completed the set with these last two poses. A heater was whirring away next to me but cave is a truly warm-hearted space in its own right. Tonight’s throwback CDs were by Bob Marley and Hue and Cry – that latter had me guessing! Unlikely music is all part of the charm at Pimlico’s ‘artist-led retail space‘. Every visit is a pleasure.

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