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A-side B-side Gallery, Hackney, 3 November 2014

4 November 2014

A single line. Lots of short curves. Straight lines. Shade and light. These would be the drawing techniques for artists to practice during my latest appearance as model at the A-side B-side Gallery.

There would be five artists in attendance and – as always – they would receive expert guidance from Catherine Hall. While setting up we chatted about the methodologies and pose sequences for the evening.

There is variety and freshness in Catherine’s sessions, yet there’s nothing haphazard or whimsical about her approach. Part of this evening’s work would take its inspiration from the drawings of sculptor Henry Moore; another part would exercise artistic talent revealed during the previous week.

Easels and boards were assembled, paper clipped into place, artists in position: we were ready. I spread my white sheet on the centre of the gallery floor, slipped off my gown and started with a three-minute pose.

Three-minutes, two-minutes, one-minute – practising single line drawing, short curves and straight lines only. We followed this with a run of three-minute poses, sometimes using a long edge of the charcoal, sometimes drawing shade for the first half and light for the second half.

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A 15-minute pose took us to the break. The artists would use their self-expression in trying any or all of the techniques. I was sitting on my sheet, feeling a little of the cold floor but otherwise warm and comfy. November’s chill remained outside.

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A dynamic pose – one-minute dark, one-minute light – got us re-started. A five-minute pose provided more time to refine the skill; we finished with a 30-minute standing pose that could be drawn in any way the artists saw fit.

In my non-expert opinion, the collected works at the end were the strongest combined set I’d seen at the A-side B-side. Even a couple of artists who had seemed displeased with their own efforts before the break, pulled out all the stops to excel by the end.

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One artist who’d produced a fantastic drawing from the final long pose, told me it was only her second time at an art class. I felt this showed the essential talent was within her already, and had been brought out here through a combination of Catherine’s tips and advice, the comfortable creative environment, and a real personal commitment.

This, to me, is what informal life drawing groups should be all about. No pressure, but having that time, space and support to nurture and hone artistic skills; to develop and improve through practice; and hopefully take a lot of enjoyment from the process.

 

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