I was sitting on the stool, sandwiched between two other beginners. He was walking around the easels delivering dubious jokes to the advanced students, who were promptly laughing at the same punchline I’d heard since lesson one.
My Shakespeare’s head was coming out neat and tidy. Religiously following his advice, I found my skills were putting off the other beginners but were not quite enough to join the league of the aficionados. A quick glance at my work, and he would move onto dissecting the next student’s. I once tried to join the advanced group only to be politely told that I was occupying someone else’s space. So it was a question of either staying and getting stuck in pretty doodles or leaving and losing the money.
I stopped going even though the life drawing course was fully paid, didn’t even ask for a refund.
A few weeks later I went down my local with my partner to drown my artistic sorrows into a glass of Chilean red. Waiting to be served, I looked through the papers scattered on the counter and picked up a nice postcard. It was depicting an old nude photograph with the headline ‘On Form , life drawing from the nude every Tuesday’.
Why not? I put the leaflet in my bag and went onto enjoying my Chilean.
That’s how I met Alice and the array of inspiring models who are happy to work with white paint all over them or sipping tea with the rest of the class. What makes it even more special for me is that the class takes place in the basement of a bookshop after closing time. Art+Books=Heaven.
I must admit it was challenging at first. It took some weeks before I came back home with a drawing I actually liked, but when I did, it felt like something had clicked in my brain, in the way I look at the model and all the things around me.
Alice has a gentle way of teaching, she shows some basics at the beginning of the class and then leaves us free to experiment and interpret the technique chosen as we see fit.
All our drawings go on the wall after each pose, which creates a sort of creative mood in the room, so everyone ends up taking inspiration from other people’s interpretation of the subject: a silent dialogue. It makes me leave class feeling I’ve got so much to learn, thinking of ways to improve, of techniques I want to try.
Note to self: try a taster class before signing on, and don’t despair if it doesn’t work out; there’s always the pub to put things right!