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Watercolour Revolutionaries

9 June 2015

No body paint, no props; just two nude models. It’s quite the usual thing for models at life drawing groups to pose without adornment, but this was the first time I had been called to do so with Art Macabre.

The focus of this salon was artists and materials. After a six month absence, Art Macabre was back in collaboration with Cass Art for ‘Watercolour Revolutionaries’ at their Kingston store, an event presented over two successive evenings in May.

Tableaux and techniques will be inspired by visionary watercolour artists such as William Blake, Tracey Emin and Egon Schiele. Experiment with the new Winsor & Newton professional Watercolour Markers which offer bright, vibrant colours, in an innovative form for increased versatility. The timeless medium has never been so dynamic.

I had been booked to pose with fellow model Lily on the second evening, under the inspired guidance of Art Macabre’s Nikki, aka Raven Rouge. Our life modelling would be about the body in poses recreated from famous watercolour works. There would be no added theatrics.

I love to model for watercolour painting. There’s an extra freshness and vibrancy about the finished pieces that’s harder to find in charcoal or pencil studies. Ten artists joined us in the bright, summery upstairs space above Cass Art shop floor.

Tracey Emin

Our opening short dynamic poses were to be inspired by the blue, somewhat explicit, watercolours of Tracey Emin.

Lily opened up in a reclining poses with one leg raised and bent at the knee. She held this for 2 minutes then flipped position, presenting the same pose to the other side of the room for 3 minutes. A 4-minute pose followed, standing with one arm crooked over her head, then I joined her for 5 minutes, reclining at her feet with limbs raised.

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William Blake

Our second inspiration was the radiant watercolour figures of William Blake. The first work that I would attempt to recreate was ‘The Sun at His Eastern Gate‘.

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William Blake – ‘The Sun at His Eastern Gate’

The pose required both arms to be outstretched and unsupported. Nikki asked how long I could hold it and, perhaps rashly, I agreed to 10 minutes. After seven minutes both my arms felt like they were holding heavy shopping bags. I carried on, though I suspect Nikki may have called time a minute or two early – if so, it was a kindness.

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The next work by Blake to inspire us was ‘Satan Watching the Caresses of Adam and Eve‘. An Art Macabre skull was to be our Satan.

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William Blake – Satan Watching the Caresses of Adam and Eve

There was chuckling that, having met for the first time half an hour before, Lily and I were now being asked to pose for 20 minutes as Adam and Eve “caressing”. In fact it was enough for us be leaning together on the floor, not quite gazing into each other’s eyes. It may have looked like paradise but supporting it was tough on the wrists.

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Egon Schiele

Finally, after a break, we turned to everybody’s favourite raw, twisted figurative artist, Egon Schiele.

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Egon Shiele – Self-portrait

Lily and I would be seated separately on stools for a single 35-minute pose. I carried the main burden of being Schiele-esque – it’s what got me the booking after all – while Lily was sat partly draped with legs askew.

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© Art Macabre

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© Art Macabre / Sian Dowell, Cass Art

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© Art Macabre / Sian Dowell, Cass Art
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© Art Macabre / Sian Dowell, Cass Art
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© Art Macabre / Sian Dowell, Cass Art
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© Art Macabre / Sian Dowell, Cass Art

Afterwards, paintings were set out around the floor for general admiration. Farida, our friend from so many Art Macabre events, had made great art, while also distinguishing themselves were artists Natalie Thomas – whose work was displayed at the Art Macabre ‘Dying Art’ exhibition – and the fantastic Captain Chants.

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Like my last modelling assignment for Nikki, at Woodley Library, it was a long journey home at the end of the evening. And like that occasion, and so many others, the art and enjoyment make it all worthwhile.

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© Art Macabre

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From → Art

3 Comments
  1. Very nice idea, and love the results.

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