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The Star by Hackney Downs, 28 June 2022

4 Jul 2022

Informal life drawing groups often lose artists on early summer evenings that promise long light warm hours, without fear of rain. Upstairs at The Star by Hackney Downs, uncovered windows were wide open bringing a bright celebratory seasonal freshness to Drawing the Star, yet still – alas – numbers dipped.

Even in reduced circumstances, however, the atmosphere here is always upbeat and engaging. Organiser Catherine Hall sets the tone; a reliable playlist adds richness to proceedings, and short poses keep us fizzing along: 5 minutes, 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, then three of 1-minute and three of 30-seconds.

After high-energy freewheeling through six poses in fewer than five minutes, the next pose of 10 minutes feels like a long languid hiatus within which to recompose. It’s the relieving semicolon that draws breath after a rat-a-tat burst of commas. I sat on a low stool and made a shape way too angular for comfort but, hey, it’s the job.

I got back up on my feet for one more 10-minute pose before our break. Legs loosely crossed, right forearm vertical to chest, right hand cradling chin, left forearm on head, left hand cupping right ear, left fingertips touching right fingertips… I borrowed heavily from the extraordinary self-portrait works of Egon Schiele. I borrow often.

Drinks were replenished during the interval. As we resumed for our final half-an-hour, Catherine called for a show of hands to decide pose times: 10/10/10, 15/15, 10/20 or 30. Part-democracy, part-diplomacy found in favour of 10/20 but Catherine asked me to begin with the 20 minute pose for the benefit of those returning late from the bar.

I’d both heard it said and seen for myself that some artists struggled to fit my full form on their page when I reached maximum height. Thus out of compassion for them and myself, I decided on floor work for the 20-minute pose and also the 10-minute variant that took us to the end. Still working those angles, though.

When all was done, artworks were spread around the floor for the general admiration of everyone present. After tidying the room, a handful of us retired to the beer garden for post-art banter. This is such a lovely group on so many levels. Whether new faces or old friends, everybody leaves with a smile on their face. Not least, me. 🙂

From → Art

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