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The Old Dairy, London, 13 May 2015

16 May 2015

I couldn’t quite believe it: artists were pouring into The Old Dairy function room, three or four at a time. Seats had been set out along all four sides of the room; never before had I seen them all taken. Thirty artists in total settled down to draw. This has rightly become a popular group.

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I’m always especially relieved to get a big turn-out when a group has used images of me on its social media beforehand. There remains the lingering paranoid doubt that I might deter more people than I encourage. Clearly not on this occasion.

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With everybody ready, Julia – the group facilitator for the evening – started me on my first pose. It was the usual format for a Life Draw N4 session, one that I particularly enjoy: 5 minutes, 4, 3, 2, 1 minute, then 10, 15, 20 minutes to a break, followed by one long pose of 30 minutes to the finish.

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It’s always important for a life model to alternate the direction they face between each pose, giving fair attention to all sides of a room. This is much more the case when the room is full and artists cannot freely change seat. Thus, I flipped around between each short dynamic pose and made sure to turn my head and twist my torso – widening the front-facing angle – for all the longer ones.

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An artist once said to me that some models just sit there like a sack of potatoes. I’ve always tried to avoid slipping into that comfort zone.

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My mind did not wonder too far while I was concentrating on each pose. A little lesson learned midway through the long pose, however, was not to dwell on the radio comedy I’d listened to the night before…

Geoffrey: My Auntie Joan had a budgie when I was little. It grew a lump, then it fell off its perch and died. I dug a hole in the garden for its grave. I made a little cross for it out of two lolly sticks.

Count Arthur Strong: Ooh, I expect you were one of the bloody pallbearers as well, eh? Did you read out the flipping eulogy at its funeral? Elvis John play the piano, did he?

…it’s not a good idea to make oneself want to laugh when attempting to be deadpan motionless.

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At the end of the session, when I’d regained sensation in a numb foot, I accompanied Julia in chatting with artists and photographing their art. There was a strong selection this evening, yet it’s a group without pressure to produce masterpieces. People come simply for the enjoyment; I certainly did.

The end…

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