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Kingsgate Workshops, London, 27 January 2019

29 Jan 2019

How long did it take for this moment to come? Artist Tony Swann had been phoning me on and off since mid-2017, trying to arrange a Sunday date when I could pose for one of his whole-day portrait sessions in Hampstead, but a staggering succession of other commitments had prevented me saying “yes!“… until now.

I arrived at Kingsgate Workshops about fifteen minutes ahead of our 10:30am start, and found a busy scene. With a certain pragmatic serenity, Tony was finding room for a twelfth easel in a studio that could just about comfortably accommodate eleven. An elevated chair awaited my presence at the hub of this horseshoe-shaped dozen.

The day was structured into six periods of continuous modelling, each for 45 minutes. At the halfway stage we would have an hour-long break for lunch, whilst other interval times for tea and stretching were limited to fifteen minutes. I settled on my throne and together we commenced our respective tasks.

Many models express the opinion that portrait modelling is tougher than life modelling. Poses usually last much longer, are less varied, require less creative input, less bodily effort, yet demand unwavering fixed attention to an immutable gaze point. It can be an intense test of mental stamina, wherein the main challenge is simply staying awake.

During the morning, I traversed the world in my mind. By the afternoon, I’d progressed to working out new passwords for my online accounts. And so on. The brain does not have to be kept entertained, merely active. Meanwhile, artists around me meticulously constructed various impressions of my head in oils and acrylics.

Inevitably most depicted me frowning – the curse of many a long-resting face – or just slightly glazed over, whilst a couple had me looking outright evil. I’m not, I promise! All had done well, however, and contributed to making a friendly atmosphere. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and was very grateful to Tony for his persistence in arranging it.


Artwork by Tony Swann.

From → Art

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