I bet that title got your attention! Let me explain; on Thursday night I attended a life drawing class and I have to say, it was one of the most surreal two hours of my life.
I had been looking for some kind of creative outlet for a while. I always describe myself as a creative, but recently I haven’t done much to earn that title. So when my friend told me about this life drawing class that she used to attend, I decided to look it up. I’ve never done it before and when I told my mum about it she asked if I would be drawing or posing, I’m not sure if she was joking… Anyway, it’s held at Bristol Grammar School (see here) on Thursday nights and I get the impression you are expected to have done some drawing before. There are three sections, the first; the model(s) pose(s) for one hour, the second; the model(s) pose(s) for 15 minutes and the last; the model(s) pose(s) for 10 minutes. You join a group depending on what you want to work on; be that quick sketches or a more detailed drawing.
I showed up right at 7pm, which is unusual for me because normally I’m VERY early for these things. The room was teeming with about 50 people and many of the seats around the room were already taken. I worried I wouldn’t be able to find a spot! There were models walking around in blankets, old people with oil paints and students with sketch pads, a girl to my left was doing yoga on the floor. The organiser, Will Stevens, found me and recognised me as a newbie (either because he knows every single face in that room and mine was a new one, or I looked lost. Both are very possible). He asked me if I’d drawn before and I said yes, although I haven’t taken any classes since school. I’ve always been able to draw, I suppose, but I am severely out of practice and it’s a skill you need to nurture (much like most skills, I guess). Will recommended that I join the long pose section, where the models would pose for an hour. I found my way to a seat in the corner and in front of me, lying on the floor, was a man and a woman, completely naked. Everyone else had started drawing so I hurriedly pulled out my sketch pad and my trusty HB pencils and stared at my blank page. The room was suddenly completely silent except for the faint scratching of pencil led on paper. I was very conscious of how many people were around me, how exposed my sketch pad was, how many eyes would see my work… eventually I started drawing.
I spent the whole first hour drawing the woman. To tell you the truth I attempted to draw the man, but I couldn’t. He was completely sprawled out and for some reason I just couldn’t get the proportions right. I was effectively looking at the top of his head and his body lay out beyond that, one knee bent in the air and the other tangled with the legs of the woman. So I gave up on him and concentrated solely on her. I still quite proud of that first drawing and even though it doesn’t look like a lot, I did work on it for an hour!
After the first hour there was a 15 minute break where we could go get tea and coffee and have a chat with the other class members. I got talking to the girl who was sitting next to me, she had studied art at uni and had fallen out of the habit of drawing too and that’s why she was attending this class. Her work was good, she had a very distinct style; a bit like illustrations and using crosshatching as shading. She also had a yellow pencil that she used as a highlighter. I wish I’d taken a picture to show you, but that might have been a strange request; ‘excuse me, can I take a picture for my blog…?’
The second hour, was actually only 45 minutes because of the break, but it flew in. Again, I stayed in the long pose section and again there were two models; two girls, roughly my age, sitting on chairs. And again I was quite happy with my drawing of the first girl, but I couldn’t quite get the second right. So much so I’ve blurred it out of the picture I’m showing you. She is still in the original, I think it will be quite good to keep track of my progress at the course continues. Another 5 classes left of this term and I will be interested to see if there is any noticeable improvement!
When Will called time on the second half I couldn’t believe it was over! I wasn’t finished my drawing and wanted more time. The models wrapped blankets around themselves and wandered round looking at all the pictures that had been made of them. It struck me that this must be a peculiar feeling, to have multiple drawings and paintings made of you. Multiple drawings and paintings that, most of which, you will never see and if you do, probably only the one time before it’s packed away into a stranger’s bag and taken home.
I have signed up for the rest of the term, Will gave me a discount on the fee since I had joined part way through. The tuition received was minimal; there was a lot of people in that room and only one organiser. He did come and speak to me and we spoke briefly about proportions and negative space. I get the impression he’s there if you want him, but that a lot of people just want to draw and there was some phenomenal talent in that room. The woman on the other side of me had painted with water colour and her work was amazing. Again, I wish I could show you!
So on Thursday night I spent a very surreal evening with a lot of naked people. Yes, it was surreal at first, but after a while I stopped seeing boobs and started seeing shapes and shading; I felt very mature (*smug face*), yes I know, I’m nearly 30. I loved it, because it was two hours dedicated to drawing, with no TV, books, alcohol, no bar, anything to distract me from just drawing. I loved it.