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Wanstead library, London, 20 September 2014

22 Sep 2014

On Saturday it was my pleasure to be invited back as the model for a portrait drawing demo at Wanstead library. As per last year, it was part of a broader-based local arts and crafts showcase for the Wanstead Art Trail.


The idea was to promote the life drawing at nearby Wanstead House. I’d modelled there several times last year for the group’s organiser, Patrick. For this event, Patrick would be drawing my portrait while members of the public could take a seat and join in at any time.


We didn’t want to risk outraging public morals, so my clothes would remain on. I took my seat on a low platform, and fixed my gaze on the bottom right corner of the mural behind Patrick. As he began marking his blank page, so I slowly made myself blank.

In the first session – 11am to 11:50am – we had a number of curious passers-by, but only a couple of people stopped to take part. In an adjacent corner the children’s face painting seemed to be busiest. Still, Patrick was on good form and come half-time he already had the makings of a good likeness.


We bantered for a while over cups of tea, and then kicked off again for a final session, taking us up to 1pm. A few more takers sat down to draw but I suspected these were regulars at life drawing rather than potential new recruits. Leaflets were being taken by a steady stream of visitors, however, which was encouraging.

When the session was over I could put on my specs and at last see what Patrick had made of me. Masterful! His work was a better likeness than my passport photo.


I always feel a bit humble in these circumstances; privileged to have been honoured in this way. For my part, I’d remained sufficiently motionless to be described as “still life” by one gentleman. Not a bad couple of hours’ work for a substitute fruit bowl!

From → Art

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