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Morley College, London, 12 January 2017

15 January 2017

Evening life painting – session 1 of 3

I sat in the cafeteria at Morley College, killing time. Having already had train trouble that morning, and with severe weather forecast, I’d travelled up early. A pool of water collected beside me beneath the tip of my umbrella. At half-five I glanced through the window, into the street-lit blackness, and saw the afternoon’s downpour had turned to a flurry of snow. What an evening to have my first life model booking of the year.

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This was to be the first of three successive Thursdays for me here, working with tutor Gillian Melling. Each 3-hour session would be centred on one single repeated long pose, but to warm-up our artists – eight of the expected eleven turned up – we began with four 15-minute poses. Despite two dodgy heaters and unreliable radiators, there was enough warmth coming from two other heaters to make sure I was never cold on this wintery night.

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And so to the main pose I would be sustaining over three weeks. I’d been forewarned by Gillian that she was hoping for something ‘angular’. When I arrived, she tentatively asked if I would be willing to stand – of course I would. At first I found an upright pose with arms close upon my torso, but this was considered ‘formal’. “Would you like me to make it more open?” I asked. Yes. So I widened the stance, bent one knee, raised one crooked arm to my neck and angled the other from my stomach.

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Not the most comfortable position I’ve ever taken, but it met requirements. I only had to endure it for 50-minutes at the end of this session, with short stretch-breaks at the 20 and 40-minute marks. The next two weeks will be more challenging as I expect I’ll have to hold it for anything up to two-and-a-half hours, with breaks. Still, it’s a friendly group, considerately run, and I know I shall enjoy watching the artworks develop.

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