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The Conservatoire, Blackheath, 20 February 2017

23 February 2017

Would you like to see yourself as a twelve year-old boy in the style of Picasso?” Hey, who wouldn’t? This offer was put to me by one artist at the end of an evening’s work at The Conservatoire in Blackheath. As I’d spent most of the previous two hours sitting with a curved spine, hugging my thighs, I felt closer to the age of 82 than 12, but I was well pleased to see all the art produced. We’d started with three 1-minute poses…

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5 and 10-minute poses came next, first standing with hands round my head, and then squatting low. This latter was becoming tough on my toes and tendons during the last few minutes but as I had woken that morning on holiday in Geneva, the discomfort at least helped keep me sharp. After a moment to recover, I was ready for the long pose. I placed a cushion beneath my sheet, sat down and held my arms behind my legs.

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Tutor Victoria Rance had suggested various options for the long pose but we agreed this would work best tonight; we will pick one of the others when I return in five weeks. Nine artists had arranged themselves in a circle round me, while Victoria also painted sketches in a drawing book when not offering comments and advice. By agreement, I was given time checks every 20 minutes with the chance to have a stretch.

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The session was brought to its close shortly before our scheduled finish at 10pm. The remaining time was spent in collective admiration of the artworks produced. If you had struggled to find a Picasso among the works above, the clue is it’s very early Picasso; look again at the colour pastel sketch in brown and yellow on pale orange paper. Very nice, as were all the distinctive styles on show. I look forward to coming back.

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