Flickr/Lyudmila Izmaylova

My first time: Nudes – A Life Drawing Experience

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(very) amateur artist attends life drawing class

I am the most tortured of artists because I cannot be one. Try as I might, I seem to bear the eternal curse of possessing an artist’s soul, while lacking any discernible talent. But I don’t let this stop me from having a good go at becoming the artiste I was born to be. So, after seeing a poster outside the arts centre, I decided to go along to a life drawing class hosted by Warwick Arts Society. The poster stipulated that no previous experience was required, which was a relief as I had none to provide them with. All I was bringing to the table was an extreme feeling of inadequacy and a determination not to disgrace myself.

I was mildly surprise by the sheer amount of people who also turned up, as I had an inexplicable fear that I would be the solitary attendee, and that it would be an all too intimate affair with just me, a nude model and some stifling awkwardness. Instead I was greeted by a room full of people all ready to engage in some serious art. I was absolutely terrified.

I like to think that enthusiasm here is half of the work

Optimistically, I selected a pale grey chalk, some charcoal, and a sketch pencil, as I was ready to shade, highlight and blend in order to create a masterpiece that Da Vinci himself couldn’t have realised. Obviously, this was entirely unnecessary as I was too much of a novice to stray from pencil, but I like to think that enthusiasm here is half of the work.

As the session started we were instructed that the model would hold different positions for varying amounts of time, beginning with three one minute positions. It was at this point that our model began to strip with such ease and such determination, that I barely had time to process it and suddenly we were all staring at a naked man. It is necessary here to applaud the young model for being such a brave, brave soul. He was definitely more relaxed than me and I was fully clothed. The level of focus in the room was somewhere between an exam hall and a game of operation. It was spectacular. I, a self-confessed social media addict, didn’t think once about my phone, or think about dinner. I was utterly lost in a world of creation.

The human form is art, even if I am unable to convey that due to poor fine motor skills.

Over the course of the session I learnt three things: 1) I am still vaguely horrified by nudity 2) I still cannot draw 3) I can, even as a novice, appreciate the curve of the back to the bum, which is truly a lovely line. The human form is art, even if I am unable to convey that due to poor fine motor skills. What I found compelling was the way in which the experience allowed me to think in a completely different way, to convert the human body into the abstract in order to rebuild it. Perhaps it is only hubris on my part, but it felt almost like playing God. And while my creation story would certainly be an abstract one, there is a power to be felt in creating on your own terms, entirely for pleasure.

I would highly recommend this experience. It’s perfect for beginners, there’s no awkward show and tell at the end and the atmosphere is welcoming and professional. I am ardently anxious to have another go and perhaps, if I can pass of my work as impressionistic as opposed to unskilled, I have an illustrious career ahead of me.

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