Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Can you tell what it is yet?

I am not now - or ever have been - a member of the arty party. There was art at school, and I liked the flavour of the classroom where the teacher was based; it seemed a colourful and imaginative place in comparison to the dirty functionality of the rest of the buildings. I wasn't really part of what went on there. I didn't even do GCE Art O Level. Up until last night I'd never sat down seriously and drawn anything for over thirty years. And certainly nothing that was actually alive.

But these days I'm mates with one or two arty types. Aside from the people I know who write for a living there's Rikki and Louis, who are musicians. And now there's Will who is pretty serious about drawing and painting and has his own studio in the East End. The other day he asked me if I'd like to go to a 'life class'. I'm not one to turn down a challenge so last night I sat in the basement of a jazz bar clutching a pencil while a young woman took her clothes off.

There was nothing remotely erotic about it, which surprised me slightly. I looked at her, looked at the massive blank sheet of paper and was terrifyingly challenged for the next three hours. It was really hard work. Lines, shapes, textures. Where do you start? I couldn't do hands. Or feet. Proportionality seemed to elude me. Then there were all sort of tricky perspectives. Suddenly I was massively respectful of anyone who can transmit the complexity and subtlety of the human shape onto a canvas. Above is about the best I could manage. Afterwards I was knackered. Will and his mate Jonathan were pretty kind about my efforts, so I bought the drinks.
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