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The Prince Regent, Herne Hill, 28 January 2015

10 February 2015

5 August 2014 – “Hi Lisa, Apologies if you’ve had a few messages like this today…

An unseen facet of being a life model is sending speculative emails to art classes and groups whenever a call-out appears. Likely as not in most cases we won’t even get an acknowledgement, let alone a booking, but we give it a go. None of us are owed.

5 January 2015 – “Hi Steve, I would love you to model for us this term…

It was a great surprise, therefore, when out of the blue in early January I got a reply to an email I’d sent five months earlier. Furthermore, two emails later that same evening, arrangements were settled: I would début at The Prince Regent pub in Herne Hill for SketchPad Drawing on 28 January. Very much worth the wait!

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I arrived plenty early to find Lisa setting up easels in irregular arrangements around the sides of two adjoining rooms on the pub’s first floor. I did what little I could to help with preparations while we chatted about the format and poses.

There would be two models: myself and Ruby. We would each work a separate room, swapping over at half time. This seemed to me a very good way of accommodating up to 40 artists in the space available. They would each have an easel and a comfortable, clear view of a model.

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Lisa said she had been running classes for 10 years. The experience had given her an instinctive understanding of what she could ask and reasonably expect from models in different situations. She demonstrated the poses she would like me to try in relation to the furniture and fittings of the room, all aimed at accentuating the length of my limbs.

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I opened with a 15-minute seated pose, styled to look impatient, then raced through a dynamic standing sequence of 5 minutes, 2, 2, 1, 1 and 1 minute. Finally for this pool of artists I stood for half an hour with hands on hips and a twist at the waist.

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The breadth of artistic styles on show was unexpected and impressive. I met Ruby for the first time in the doorway between rooms and we talked a while about modelly stuff. After the break she curled into a single long seated pose on the platform of tables that I’d vacated earlier.

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Meanwhile, I was to pose for 15 minutes standing – a rather painful back-bending high reach up to the ceiling lights – and 25 minutes laying with my body on a footstool and my legs splayed across an armchair.

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When all was done I bantered with artists, just as I had at the end of the first session. Everybody was so kind and complimentary, a couple even going so far as to say they hoped they could draw me again some time. Certainly I would jump at any chance for a return visit. Lisa seemed positive, so who knows? Let’s see what next term brings.

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