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Buster Mantis, London, 20 August 2017

21 Aug 2017

Notwithstanding current trends in London, being a life model is NOT about glamour or physical perfection (whatever that may be). Every unique human body has something special with which to inspire artists so long as the person within can be open, reliable and professional. In my case, I have long been compared with figures in paintings by Egon Schiele, so if an art class is looking for a Schiele-like model, there’s a chance I’ll get a call… which makes me very happy in my imperfection.

Egon Schiele – Nude self-portrait, 1916.

Yesterday’s event was an ‘Egon Schiele Special: drink and draw at Buster Mantis‘ with London Drawing Group. It was my third time working for this trio: the first was a session led by Lucy in April; then came a duo session led by Luisa in July; now this session led by Frances. To start, she warmed-up the sell-out full house of artists by getting them to try about eight 1-minute and 2-minute continuous line sketches of my full body or just my hands – looking only at me, not the page.

Some of the short poses were in the style of paintings by Schiele that were projected onto a screen behind me, whilst others were improvised from my memory of his work. Hand poses are a particular challenge when posing in the round; trying to make sure everyone has sufficient view of at least one gesture. Next came three 5-minute poses that directly mimicked projected paintings – even making use of orange material as a kind of sarong. The first half ended with a 10-minute portrait piece.

After our break, we completed the session with a single 45-minute pose in the style of the Schiele self-portrait at the start of this blog post. Very knotty and tangled, all sorts of pressures and stress points, yet I knew I could hold it. My own limbs are somewhat longer than Schiele’s so the pose became stretched out, but exaggeration was meant to be a feature of the study anyway. What I only noticed shortly after starting was that I’d actually created a mirror of the original work…

Inevitably this one became uncomfortable quite quickly. No single part of me was ever in pain, but my body needed constant micro-management to get me through. I had no idea of how time was passing, just an awareness of Frances moving around the clock dial of artists, offering hints and tips. As she neared the end of her circle she declared that just two minutes remained. What a relief! And what pleasure to see the wonderful artworks that resulted from this afternoon’s exertions. Schiele remains an inspiration.

From → Art

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