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The Star*, London, 30 October 2019

11 Nov 2019

The Jolly Sketcher has brought life drawing joy to new venues across north London. This Halloween booking would be the first of two successive Wednesday evenings at The Star* in Archway. I arrived an hour early for our 7pm start so I had plenty of time to apply the skeletal make-up last seen in Penge just two days before.

The first-floor room seemed a perfect space for life drawing. It felt large and light, with a sofa for poses, plus a wide arc of tables and chairs guaranteeing every artist a clear line of sight. Functionally ideal but decoratively spartan, it gained ornamentation when regular London life artist Hugh arrived with his own exquisitely hand-carved pumpkin.

As well as having its Halloween theme, this was to be a session of short work with no pose longer than 20-minutes. While artists were settling down, group organiser Tanja Hassel started a random spooky Spotify playlist and then got us underway by calling for three poses of 2-minutes and three of 5-minutes.

On Monday, I’d worn a cape and a long white wig for my opening three short poses. I decided against them here, however, as they seemed superfluous. Plus I would have my back to a wall rather than being in the round. My only props were a narrow length of black material and a grim plastic skull. Next came two 10-minutes poses.

Having sat and stood, clutching my skull, I opted to end the first half with a 15-minute semi-reclining pose for which I extended one arm and draped the material around me. This presented a bit of a foreshortening horrorshow for those directly in front, but they handled it superbly. In fact, characterful work emerged around the room.

At the interval, Tanja and most of the artists departed downstairs to dine heartily from the pub’s selection of home-cooked hot pies. I was invited to join them but suspected that a bellyful of pie might undermine my credibility as a skeleton. Instead, I stayed in lean form for the three 20-minute poses of our second half – first seated on a stool.

I stood for the penultimately pose, holding up the dark material over my left shoulder, around my back and out beyond my right thigh. To conclude the evening, I sat on the floor with right arm on right knee, left arm on the sofa arm and both hands hanging in claw-like pretence. I felt in good shape and the sketchers did indeed seem jolly.

Our playlist swung from the Ghostbusters theme to Willow’s Song, from Thriller to The Time Warp, from Get Ur Freak On to The Monster Mash – tracks not heard at every fine art atelier but creative juices were stimulated nonetheless, to superb effect. After helping to clean-up, I headed home; I think I remembered everything…

From → Art

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