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The Conservatoire, Blackheath, 5 February 2018

7 Feb 2018

I’ve had an idea,” said tutor Victoria Rance with a twinkle in her eye. Mild trepidation gripped me as I waited to hear what torturous contortion would be in store this evening as my long pose at The Conservatoire; yet I need not have worried. The requirement was merely that I lay perfectly straight on my back, echoing works such as ‘The dead Christ and three mourners‘ by Andrea Mantegna, and ‘Clay‘ by Jacob Kramer.

I couldn’t quite believe my luck – simply laying down flat-out for almost 2-hours hardly seemed like work, but for the artists it was intended as a serious challenge to sketch the foreshortened figure. We warmed-up with three 1-minute poses, one of 5-minutes, and one of 10-minutes, then began preparing the space for our main work. With snow having fallen earlier in the day, this was a four-heaters situation.

Although the exercise was supposed to concern foreshortening, I sensed a few artists shuffling their easels around for less demanding side views. For me the challenge was initially how to stay awake, but after about half-an-hour I was aided by a chilly draught that circulated at floor level. Slight adjustments to heater positions during our half-time interval ensured I was snugly cocooned in warm air for the remaining 40-minutes.

Most eye-catching amongst all the finished works were felt-pen outlines of me, drawn onto the clear plastic lids of storage boxes. Presumably these had been held at arms’ length and my body profile traced upon them. Having been surrounded by four roaring heaters throughout the session I hadn’t been able to hear whether this technique had been part of Victoria’s tuition, or was the inspired act of a desperate artist. Genius!

When finished, I’d got as far as putting on my T-shirt when the building alarms started blaring. Fire or burglar, we did not know, but immediate evacuation was required. With temperatures below freezing, however, I wasn’t about to dash outside with no trousers or shoes; an extra 30 seconds was all I needed, and we were soon back indoors. Not even this surprise intervention could spoil a very comfortable evening.

From → Art

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