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Arts Theatre, London, 13 May 2018

15 May 2018

On Sunday I spent five hours sitting motionless in front of eight artists with easels for a City Academy portrait drawing session at Arts Theatre. Two and half hours in the morning, an hour’s break for lunch, then a further two and half hours for the afternoon. The session opened with four 5-minute warm-ups: first drawing me without looking at the paper, next drawing me but only glancing at the paper to position the pencil, then drawing me upside down, and finally drawing each other.

Drawings were stuck to a wall after each few poses so gradually one end of the room became wallpapered with my face. The first half proceeded with poses of 15-minutes, 20, 30, and 10-minutes. Creative freedom for me was zero – artists swapped position after every pose so it would have been counterproductive if I’d significantly altered the direction of my gaze each time too. My biggest challenge was simply staying awake. More than once I lapsed into a battle of wills with my own heavy eyelids.

Second half pose lengths were 15-minutes that extended to 20, then 20-minutes for a first attempt with charcoals, followed by another 15-minutes that extended to 20, then 30-minutes on ‘charcoal technique’ – erasing areas of light from a fully charcoal-black page – and finally, 20-minutes for artists to draw in any way they pleased. Tuition was provided in a range of techniques, so the session was more about gaining experience than seeing immediate improvements. Me? I just sat and watched it all…

From → Art

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