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Brockley Adult Education Centre, London, 13 November 2021

18 Nov 2021

Since the beginning of 2021, I’ve modelled online both for Adult Learning Lewisham and for tutor Joanna McCormick, but this was the first time in over a year I had been back to model in person at Brockley Adult Education Centre. I confess that on light sultry evenings I warm to the weirdness of posing naked and alone for internet artists, yet I still firmly believe the most magical energies and encounters emerge in person.

On the Friday evening before this all-day Saturday session, I accompanied Esther to The Paxton Centre in Crystal Palace for an ‘Artist Launch Night’ of works by, among others, her friend Caron Clarke. Caron’s art is astonishingly good, but the event was all the more special for its magical encounters. Such unexpected joy to catch-up with veteran fellow model Richard Moon – still radiating a profound passion for his craft!

Richard and I exchanged tales of modelling in pandemic times, and sparked off each other as we recognised familiar quirks in our experiences. After red wines and hearty banter in great company, Esther and I retreated with our friend Dee to her household bubble for cocktails and shots with her and husband, Neil. The evening left me with a happy heart but a hungover head, as I began this session with five 1-minute poses.

For coronavirus safety reasons, windows in the art room were wide open so air could circulate. I declined the offer of heaters as the energy of quick poses keeps me warm, while the mellow freshness of autumn kept me alert. Three 3-minute poses were next. Artists were encouraged to draw using their weaker hand, then using both hands and finally to try blind contour drawing. Out of compassion, I kept my pose simple.

The focus of three 5-minute poses was: negative space, then starting a drawing at its centre, and finally drawing shadows first. This session was intended to be hybrid with artists both in the room and online. Up to the last 5-minute pose I had been drawn by five artists in the room, but only at this point did an online artist join us. I couldn’t help but wonder if they decided a lay-in was more appealing than my quick-fire stylings!

After a fifteen-minute break, Jo demonstrated how to use watercolour paints with pen and ink on watercolour paper. This was the prelude to two 10-minute poses. A further demonstration, this time using pastels, prefigured a 20-minute pose. The clock ticked past midday before the pose ended, meaning lunch was slightly behind schedule. No matter though, as our afternoon hours would be occupied entirely by a single study.

Upon arriving early in the morning I asked Jo what kind of long pose she would prefer. To my amazement, joy and relief, she said what she would really like would be for me to lay down, curled up on soft cushions. I couldn’t quite believe my luck! We’d had the heaters out since the first 10-minute pose, so I now seemed set fair for comfort all the way through to our finish at 3pm.

I declined the early offer of a stretch break, and instead continued to recline (possibly even sleep) for about an hour. When eventually I did stretch, the challenge thereafter was to get back into exactly the same position as before. Reclining poses are formed by relaxing one’s muscles, but must be recreated by tensing them. It meant I was not quite so comfortable during the second hour.

I’d hoped to go right through to the finish without taking another break, but a peeving ache required me to stretch again with no more than twenty minutes remaining. That last manoeuvre got me back into my comfort zone, though – and two stretches didn’t seem unreasonable for a 2 hour 15 minute pose. The reveal of superb final works by the artists was a vindication. Hangover or not, it felt great to be back… in person.

From → Art

One Comment
  1. boykog permalink

    On that part, taking a nap on a long pose, I e. An hour or longer, I still have reservation – can I afford to fall asleep? What if someone steal my bag, and I have to go back home naked. Or I miss the end of the session and wake up in a complete darkness, all left for home….just a thought,

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