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Wanstead House, London, 15 November 2015

3 December 2015

After years of simply modelling at art classes, this year I decided to practice a little life drawing. It began almost by chance through attending Esther’s Girl in Suitcase performance at the Telegraph Hill Festival in March. Esther returned the compliment by drawing me at Telegraph Hill in April. I’ve subsequently drawn models at one of Adrian Dutton’s meet-ups, and more frequently with the East London Strippers Collective.

Since those innocent unsuspecting moments of spring, my relationship with Esther has changed significantly. When I next drew her in October, I was observing her with the adoring gaze of a love-struck partner. And just as in spring, Esther was drawing me again within a matter of days. In her own words here, she describes perfectly the frustration we models sometimes feel when endeavouring to capture the poses we so readily present for others…

Esther writes – thoughts from the day itself…

If I had a new year’s resolution this year, it was to go to life classes and draw, regularly. I utterly failed in that mission, succeeding finally in going just three times so far. Once to draw Steve in Telegraph Hill in April, once to pole dancing life drawing early in the Summer, and now again drawing (or attempting to) Steve, this time in Wanstead House.

I want to understand better what it is like to draw the model. I want to create drawings I am proud of. I think I succeeded least in that today, of the three times, partly due to tiredness. Recently Steve and I started dating, and last night I didn’t get so much sleep! While he got some zeds in, I was in fact catching up with blogging.

I am more naturally verbally inspired, and I find Steve a perfect muse for my words. He also has delicious bones and curves to draw, but my technique, sadly is not there yet. I immediately want to be expressive, ignoring many of the rules of measuring and perspective, to create something more striking. I want it to look appealing very quickly, and while I don’t care for accuracy, I want it to hold together cohesively as an image, with a style.

I muster a few lines, but I am feeling really frustrated today. It doesn’t seem to flow. The angle of his jaw is too awkward from my direction, and so far away from me. I have to tell myself it doesn’t matter. Just here to practise. But I am with my partner, and I want to do him justice – I want to be able to draw him unashamedly.

He begins with a very tricky pose, way ambitious for ten minutes, somehow resting on a knee and an ankle in some unlikely contortion.

The second pose he is standing tall, again I have a profile, and he has a forearm outstretched. I really just want to capture his face, and charcoal is not being my friend. Crude marks emerge, and I have renewed appreciation for the many artists who draw me each week. They make it look easy, though they do tend to practise regularly.

In a twenty minute seated pose I have his face towards me and grab the opportunity. Some simple advice from Patrick whose group it is, helps to make the nose within the scale I have set, and the mouth as wide as it ought.

wanstead_20151115_04a

In the break I embrace Steve, not so eager for him to see my work! The other artists fortunately have produced better, more complete images. I had felt cross with myself for not knowing how, but I know it’s all state of mind, and another time, in the zone, even without training, I am capable of appreciating my own style.

Finally a reclining pose, and I move to a different seat to see him from the front. This time my first attempt goes some way towards producing a sense of satisfaction in me, but Patrick spots a mistake. I have over-accentuated the dip in Steve’s waist, to create a more Schielesque line (which I think fits Steve so well). He corrects my drawing, rendering the rest of the figure out of proportion, enlarged in width, quite unlike my sleek, angular partner!

I am perturbed, quite out of my comfort zone, and for a while I try to alter the piece to Patrick’s new line, but, I am no longer feeling it. I turn over, trying to recapture my more expressive line, with just five minutes to go, but that too, as now I am thinking about it more, is not happening.

A fairly unsatisfactory result, but, I am very pleased that I went. Not only to appreciate Steve’s fine form from a different aspect, or to regard more highly the work of other artists, but also because, doing this I understand that I might follow my own intuition with drawing, more singularly in future. That’s not to say I don’t want to learn the ‘correct’ technique, but there is the right time for that, and a lazy, tired Sunday morning ain’t it.

Meanwhile, as Esther and I connected in spirit through our struggles with artistry and over-ambitious posing, the other artists in the room quietly got on with their drawings. Esther’s portrait was from my third pose; here I am in the work of another – pose one, two and four:

wanstead_20151115_01

wanstead_20151115_02

wanstead_20151115_03

First and foremost in this world of life drawing, Esther and I are models. We are also art lovers, and we aspire to improve as artists. We both know we will have to commit more time if we are ever to create on paper such images as we see in our minds, but we’ll be sure to enjoy our efforts together while doing so.

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