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The Conservatoire, Blackheath, 1 December 2016

7 December 2016

Evening life painting – session 3 of 4

Two weeks ago at The Conservatoire it had been a level playing field for everyone. Eight artists stood before blank canvases, scrutinising the upright pose I was to hold throughout four two-and-a-half-hour sessions, and contemplating where to make their first tentative marks. Once underway, a few devoted most of the week to drawing and redrawing my figure, whilst others were quickly mixing oil paints, capturing the basic composition and blocking in colour.

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Seven artists returned for week two and made fine progress; some were sufficiently satisfied to declare their works finished. When our third session was ready to begin, with easels, canvases, materials, and me all restored to consistent positions, it was decision time for the six returning artists. Four continued their original works – albeit one focused exclusively on the background detail – while two started new canvases, one from a new vantage point in the room.

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It ought to be getting tedious for me by now, but I’m enjoying the group dynamic; the characters, their struggles, guidance from tutor David Webb, the growing self-belief. On the downside, plummeting outdoor temperatures combined with a malfunctioning partition between studios meant that even an extra heater couldn’t prevent this being the chilliest session so far. In a heart-warming moment at the end, however, an artist kindly gave me his finished canvas. Now, where to hang my beautiful bare behind?

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