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The Prince Regent, Herne Hill, 28 November 2018

Hindrance. I’d felt my cold coming on Monday evening, yet by Tuesday evening it was still no more than a sore throat. Come the Wednesday evening, my throat was painful and constricted but had no accompanying symptoms, so I felt all would be well for life modelling at The Prince Regent. I still had to arrive on time, however, and a brace of train delays meant I only reached the front door at the minute we were due to start.

Fortunately for me I didn’t find Lisa of SketchPad Drawing impatiently drumming her fingers; what had delayed me was evidently still delaying many of the regulars, so we would begin a few minutes late. When the time came, I opted to perch on a high seat for the opening 15-minute pose (running to 16 minutes). Quick poses followed: two of 5-minutes and one of 2-minutes.

I stood for 15-minutes next, and was all set to end the first half standing in a dramatic attitude with one hand covering my face when Lisa pointed out that some artists liked to draw portraits… so I lowered the hand, lowered myself to the floor, and instead sat with chin elevated for the 12-minutes that remained. Halfway through the session and still my cold symptoms were at bay!

I switched rooms after the interval and finished my work with one 45-minute long pose, sitting on furniture draped with sheets and my chunky sweater. Still my cold remained within, to be joined insidiously by the cold of night that crept past the shield of heaters and through my skin. We compensated for our late start by over-running a little, but I’d lost track of time anyway. I was glad to move again, glad to get warm, glad to be here.


83a Geffrye Street, London, 27 November 2018

The room was warm and in time filled with artists to near-capacity. Conditions outside were damp, but my journey had been quick and I always feel comfortable here at The Workshop in Hoxton. We started with a 10-minutes pose, three of 5-minutes and two of 3-minutes…

I rotated through a sequence of tense, angular, dynamic stances, always making sure my chosen pose would take me to the edge of discomfort within its allocated time but never beyond. My experienced body was doing exactly as it should, yet my inner light felt a little dull tonight. I wondered if artists would notice. We can’t always radiate.

Two poses of 15-minutes took us to a half-hour break, during which a fine selection of breads and dips were laid out for a complimentary feast – this was an Adrian Dutton London Life Drawing group, after all. I partook of some bread, tea and two Bourbon biscuits before completing the session with two poses of 30-minutes.

I began the second half perched on a low stool then set to pondering whether I should stand or lay down for the last 30-minute pose. Both options seemed unsatisfactory for one reason or another so, as my main concern was being fair to artists on all sides of the room, I ended up staying on the stool but turned 180°, slightly shifting posture.

When all was done, I photographed the drawings – good work again here – put on my clothes, and readied to depart. On my way out, I was complimented on the hard work I put into my poses. Maybe a lack of core strength simply makes them look hard, but it’s nice that the effort is noticed. Inside each static life model is a human struggling.

The Conservatoire, Blackheath, 19 November 2018

Temperatures outside in the drizzle were of the single digit variety. Inside the art room at The Conservatoire, a thermometer on the wall showed 17°C but I wasn’t feeling it. The chill of my journey had permeated bone and muscle, so I remained clothed for as long as possible. Even by the second of our opening three 1-minute warm-up poses, I was still tight with cold and duly got a hideous cramp in my left calf. For the 5-minute standing pose that followed, I shaped myself like a man shivering…

It was no fault of the venue. I had a heater to the left of me, a heater to the right of me, and a heater in front of me, yet against my stern inner chill the hot air seemed nought but a tepid breeze. I forged one final dynamic 10-minute “warm-up”, then settled down onto a mound of foam and cushions for what would be this evening’s long pose. I took time fidgeting into a comfy position but failed to find a natural home for my left arm so it defaulted into a raised hook dangling above my head.

I assumed the arm would go dead at some point but surprisingly it retained sensation. Its only negative contribution was as a weight upon my head, which then compressed a muscle in my neck, but not intolerably. My main challenge was recalling how to get back into pose after each stretch break – contorting my body among scraps of sticky tape that marked my previous extremities. Somehow it was accomplished. Come the end I dressed quickly, admired the art, then quit once more into the freezing night.

Garrett Centre, London, 16 November 2018

Evidently the room used for life drawing at the Garrett Centre had received a modest makeover since I was last there in June. Most notably the carpet had gone and been replaced with a hard surface. It worried me slightly as, purely at a psychological level, the impression was of a starkly colder space. I needn’t have been concerned, though, as a hefty gym mat, a cushion, my sheet and two heaters kept me very cosy.

Another difference for this long pose session is that I would be modelling in the round rather than with my back to a wall. The circle of chairs filled to capacity in time for us to begin with four shortish warm-up poses: three of 5-minutes and one of 8-minutes. I made sure that for all of these I was facing the side of the room that was fated to see mostly my back for the remainder of the evening.

I settled down to the main pose with around 40-minutes of the first half still remaining, and felt sufficiently comfortable to decline the offer of a stretch break at the 20-minute mark. During the interval, I partook of the finest all-included food selection to be found anywhere on the London life art scene: delicious hot garlic bread and pizza, assorted nibbles, biscuits, teas, wine and jelly babies – classic Adrian Dutton life drawing.

The second half lasted a bit over an hour so, after resuming in the same position, I did feel more inclined to accept the offers to stretch; but only twice. Mainly I concentrated on shaking out my left wrist, which was bent back just enough to become increasingly achy. That one minor irritation aside, this was a pleasant session made more pleasing by the high quality of inspired works revealed at the end.

The Old Nun’s Head, London, 13 November 2018

As ever, I was early enough at The Old Nun’s Head to buy a handsome glass of red wine and prepare a leisurely pace. In the upstairs function room I was forewarned that “it’s been a bit quiet” at Nunhead Drawing Group this term and indeed, as our 7pm start time drew closer it seemed this evening would be another quiet one. Cometh the hour, it was just me and two of the group’s organisers.

It’s a shame as this has been a wonderful place for life drawing: lovely people, superb venue, ample drawing materials, plenty of space, good lines of sight to the model and always an excellent playlist (Laura Veirs featuring this evening). I suspect it’s simply a case of losing momentum after a long summer break, and needing to put out a little more on social media to reconnect with the previous regulars.

On the up side for the organisers, it meant they could use me – within reason – in any way they liked for their own drawings. We started with five 1-minute poses, then had a 15-minute standing pose, and 30-minutes seated on the floor. After a break, in which I was very kindly bought another glass of wine, we ended with 40-minutes standing – or rather half-perched on a fireplace. All hugely enjoyable, so come on artists – join in!

The Dellow Centre, London, 10 November 2018

Saturday morning at The Dellow Centre in the Aldgate East end of London. I began with a 15-minute standing pose and followed it with a pivoting sequence of 3-minutes, 2-minutes, 1-minute, 50-seconds, 40, 30, 20, 10 and 5-seconds. In practice, however, artists continued to arrive throughout, inevitably disrupting the timekeeping – it meant poses that should have lasted seconds ended up being more like 2 or 3 minutes.

We completed the first half with two 15-minute poses: one kneeling whilst holding two broom handles; the other seated whilst leaning onto a single angled pole. By half-time there was quite a crowd drawing me – I estimated up to 35 people – including a group who were out celebrating a birthday. Everyone was well behaved, but the extra chatter over tea and biscuits meant our second half started a little later than usual.

It was announced that we would finish the session with two poses of 23-minutes each. Somehow that managed to become 30-minutes and 15-minutes, but as I was reclining for the first of these I was quite content to prolong the comfort. Life drawing Aldgate and Shoreditch continues to grow in success, now with Sunday morning meetups in addition to Saturday mornings and Sunday afternoons. It’s success well deserved.

Mycenae House, Blackheath, 8 November 2018

After three weeks’ absence from the life drawing scene, including two weeks’ absence from Europe, I resumed nude shape-making with a second visit to Mycenae House in Blackheath. I’d first posed here for Life-drawing at Mycenae House back in March.

As in March we started with 10-minute poses – three to begin with, first kneeling then two standing. After this, to complete the first half, group organiser Jon suggested I sit on a chair for 20 minutes. I duly got comfy then added in a few angles.

When Jon announced an hour-long reclining pose after the break, one artist asked if I could be in the foetal position rather than stretched out. As I had just a yoga mat and a sheet for the wooden floor, I thought it best to lay on my clothes for extra padding.

For the first 40 to 45 minutes I was comfortable, but then inevitably there comes a bit of an ache where the hip and shoulder bones press to the floor. Not a problem though. This was a nice, gentle return to the world of life modelling.

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