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Lewisham Arthouse, London, 8 December 2018

17 December 2018

The Egon Schiele themed workshop run by London Drawing Group at Lewisham Arthouse on 7 October proved such a success – with demand for tickets surpassing availability – that a second session was organised two months later. Lucy McGeown would be facilitating again, and I would once more be the model.

11°C – that’s what a thermometer on the wall said when I arrived early at the Arthouse life drawing room. Two heaters high up on opposite walls were glowing red, but did not seem to emanating heat with any great urgency. Never mind; hot-blooded artists were starting to arrive and the first set of poses would surely get us all warmed-up.

1-minute and 3-minute poses

Before any drawing commenced, Lucy held a succinct yet comprehensive talk on the life and works of Schiele. Examples of his art were taped the length of one wall, and I used several of these as inspiration when we began with short poses: ten of 1-minute and four of 3-minutes.

7-minute pose – close-up

Each artist observed me from behind an easel and board. For our next 7-minute pose, Lucy suggested they come forward and sit around me on the floor to draw an extreme anatomical close-up. I provided a full body pose for consideration, yet everyone chose to zoom-in on my face or head. Curious!

7-minute pose – three rotations

The next three drawings all captured the same pose, rotated one hundred and twenty degrees after each change. Pose lengths would once more be 7-minutes, so we were still working rapidly with loose lines. I continued to offer angles with my limbs, inviting artists to render them in the Schiele style – many accepted the invitation.

20-minute pose

There was time for a single 20-minute pose before lunch so I set myself in a standing position, with one hand cupping my chin and the other arm wrapped around my hand, as in Schiele’s 1914 ‘Standing Male Nude with a Red Loincloth‘. Before dressing to pop out for food, I checked the thermometer again; it had soared to 14°C.

1-minute poses

Upon our return, we warmed-up again with four swift 1-minute poses. The first was to be drawn blind – that’s looking only at me, never at the paper – then the second was OK to look at the paper, the third was once more blind, the fourth another looker. My glasses were on the floor beside me, so personally I couldn’t look at anything.

20-minute poses

Three longer poses would conclude our workshop exercises – with Lucy encouraging artists to experiment more with colour. The first two poses would be 20-minutes each. To begin, I shaped myself into a low, limb-tangled knot on the floor, echoing Schiele’s ‘Nude Self-Portrait, Squatting‘ from 1916.

For the next 20-minute pose I sat upright on a chair with my legs folded and one hand resting behind me so I could lean back slightly. This wasn’t an attempt to recreate the figure of any specific Schiele painting; rather I was simply exposing my ribs and limbs in a way not hitherto manifested.


“Wistful” sketch by Lucy McGeown.

40-minute pose

My final pose was to last 40-minutes. It would be my first one of the day in a reclining attitude with a typical life model torso twist and, to maintain some Schiele inspiration, hands in the style of his ‘Mime van Osen‘ (1910). In the previous two poses my eyes had flickered briefly as if to sleep, but now – with eyes closed – I remained alert.

It had been fun! At lunch time, Lucy popped home and fetched another fan heater, so while the room only crept up to 17°C, at least I personally achieved a modest level of toastiness. Artists shared their works for general admiration and my phone’s camera feasted greedily. It had been another fine London Drawing Group workshop.

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