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Saturday, 14 December 2013

Ready, steady, draw!

 Life classes are comparatively rare, at least in Hereford. So when VR's art group heard of a course being set up in Hereford city, several members signed up. Quickly the life class was sold out.

The rules are not everyone's cup of tea and have something in common with blitz chess. The two-hour class is broken down into individual sessions a mere 2 - 5 minutes long which means you hardly have time to flex your finger joints. The emphasis is on instinct, leisured contemplation is out.

VR wasn't sure she would survive such a whirligig but I was pleased she took it up. Speaking as a non-artist (ie, close your ears now) I have always felt that human bodies represent the ultimate challenge in representational art; I mean it applies in writing so why not in pictures?

Inevitably some of VR's early stuff reflected the breathless nature of her task. But I seized on the one I've reproduced here, convinced she'd got it right. Those external lines seem to follow the routes they should. Work in progress, you could say. Down below is some of mine.

WIP Second Hand (50,220 words)
When Francine took her reserved train seat opposite Alan Pratt it was obvious he’d done more than merely exercise his fungiform papillae. On the table dividing them were three cans of lager already acquired from the train’s bar. Pratt said, “Miss Embery, our resident Stakhanovite. I thought you might like to wet your whistle after your working lunch. We’ve been joined by Parky from the big catering magazine, he’s in the bog, shifting his cargo.”


  1. My friend Pete’s wife is a keen amateur painter and attends a class where the [professional tutor attaches great importance to “looseness”. I think V has got it here . Well done.

  2. I have often wondered about the people who pose for life classes (maybe secretly wishing to do it). What is their motivation and do they demand a "look" at what has been drawn afterwards?

    I have also spent time wondering about First Class train carriages. I cannot imagine your characters travelling "cattle".

    I have envy of the artistic talents displayed.

  3. Do not understand first sentence of SH. You need an "e" in Ready Steady to make it "here". "..in the bog, shifting his cargo" is very funny. Good drawing.

  4. VR's sketching speaks to me. Bravo.
    If your last seven words mean what I think they mean, they are very funny.

  5. Life models do it for the money. And it is usually 'cash in hand', an added bonus (except in the schools). It isn't easy and you won't survive if vanity or exhibitionism is a motive.
    VR has really got it, lovely drawing!

  6. I like the immediacy and freshness of VR's drawing. That is of course explained by the 2 - 5 minute sessions designed to eliminate frequent abuses of such drawing classes - too much smudging and shading, lack of clarity and so on. Seems to me a pity that she is not allowed to make slower and more leisured drawings as well. During several years of life classes I was able to try a range of different approached all of which I loved. During longer sessions I learned to look at the model and inderstand weight, volume and perspective. I never tire of drawing and now find myself envying V her quickie sessions. I could go on...

  7. Sir Hugh: Looseness combined with precision: nice work if you can get it.

    B2: Fedorovna, an expert, tells you all you need to know about life models.

    First class: once I became a magazine editor I was entitled to travel first-class for journeys over 50 miles. You'll probably find this intensely boring but it meant that on London - Birmingham trips (a very regular destination for me) I could usually write a 750-word article during the 1 hr 50 min return jurney. Hand-write, I mean. This was in the pre-laptop days.

    MikeM: I have tidied up the clumsy grammar if that was the stumbling block. If fungiform was was the problem this was explained in a preceding passage. Say taste buds.

    Try as I might I cannot work out the thing about the missing e.

    Ellen: The last seven words mean exactly what you think they mean. What does this say about you?

    Fed: Thanks for this. I refused an invitation to act as a hair-stylist's model in a competition so it's a cinch I'd turn away from total exposure.

    Joe: Obviously the limited session can work for the artist if it's allowed to. I believe some later courses will allow longer sessions.

  8. "But I seized on the one I've reproduced her(e), convinced she'd got it right." I should have been more clear with my anal retentiveness. I knew "taste buds"....does it mean he'd imbibed as well as eaten? Laid plans for the shared drink? I suppose I can use my imagination.

  9. "Cans" of "Lager" ... cans? Egads!!

    The drawing is wonderful!

  10. RW (zS): Look I'm not writing for the Beer Connoisseur Gazette. People in novels - even quite decent people - may have regrettable tastes in drink. Besides they're on a train; there's usually not much choice and they're looking to get mildly drunk. I refuse to write about TTs.