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Albemarle College, London, 15 November 2014

21 December 2014

In two and a half years of life modelling the large gaping hole in my CV has been work at colleges. This has been for four basic reasons:

  • my 8am to 4:30pm day job rules out their weekday classes
  • college modelling can be notoriously big on bureaucracy
  • I’ve favoured posing for adults rather than adolescents
  • I’ve neither touted my services nor received an offer

This changed, however, when a friend offered up my name for Saturday modelling work at Albemarle College near London’s Marble Arch. I exchanged emails with the tutor, Susan, and the booking was confirmed. A crisp November morning saw me debut.

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The coursework was designed to give an extra boost to students’ prospects for A-level qualification. Four young people turned up on the day, which would be divided into two sessions: first from 10:15am to 12:10pm; then from 12:40pm to 1:45pm.

Four easels were set-up in a small self-contained art room accessed through the back of the college. Space was at a premium but Susan had it organised such that we were all able to work in comfort. The students moved to a different easel for each exercise.

Susan would set the pose lengths and decide whether I should be standing or seated, facing forward or backwards. I would choose the poses within these constraints.

We opened with three standing poses of three minutes each – two facing forward, one backwards – which the students were to draw whilst looking only at me, never at their paper. We followed with two more three-minute standing poses – one forward and one backwards – to be drawn with a continuous line. Tough practice!

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After a longer seated pose for charcoal drawing we ended the morning with two poses to be painted using black ink in three different levels of dilution. The twist was that the students would be standing, their papers laying on the floor and their brushes fixed on the end of metre-long poles. It was tackled with enthusiasm, fascinating to watch.

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After the break, students were invited to take one light, mid and dark pastel in colours of their choice, while I sat for a long pose that lasted the whole of the second session. The final works, when all lined-up together, made a magnificent display.

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The students’ attitude to their art was positive whilst their attitude to me, quite rightly, was polite indifference. I was merely a form to be observed and reproduced according to their own talents and interpretations. My first foray into college modelling had gone well, opening my mind and whetting my appetite for more.

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