Day Two dawned overcast and cool again. It had rained overnight and the studio roof leaked in the corner where Phoebe and I had claimed space. Unfortunately Phoebe's work of the day before was wet. But we were issued with a green bucket to catch the drips of water as it continued to rain on-and-off all day.
Phoebe flew up to Wanganui from Nelson for the course. At 17 she'd figured out she wasn't getting the art education at school she felt she needed so got her cute-little-self up to the North Island and to Marianne's class to get more skills. And by God, could she draw! I think at 17 I was still drawing horses in long grass because I couldn't draw hooves and here is this confident, beautiful young woman with line work to *die* for. She seemed confident, self assured, talented and so grown-up with the most *beautiful* face. She worked hard and drank hard if her horizontal attitude was anything to go by some days. Never late; no complaining. That's who I want to be when I grow up - Phoebe!
We started each morning in class by 9am to talk about the body, and bones, and looking at examples in art books and checking Joleen's bits-and-pieces out. It was like a mini-lecture/lesson but quite informal and really interesting. Our first model would be in the studio by 10am and we would draw until 1pm when we'd break for lunch. The afternoon session'd start at 2pm with a new model and finish at 4pm and was always the toughest to get through.
Our models for Day Two were John and Anna. I was beginning to worry I was only going to draw males when I saw John arrive for the morning session - and where my easel was I was only ever going to get the business-end of the male models. Before this course I'd never really *cottoned* onto drawing from the Male nude - mostly because of the lack of bodyfat on males, you *have* to be way more accurate and mostly, I wasn't - so my mistakes showed all the more obviously when drawing from the male body. Nothing quite like pendulous breasts and curvy hips to draw a viewer's attention away from misproportioned drawings of the female form. John was a good model and seemed to be able to sit deep within himself - deep into his pelvis or something, and keep very still. We did a lot of blind-contour drawing with him.
Blind contour drawing is where you don't look at your paper/drawing and only look at your model. You match your eye movement with your pencil movement, imagine you are drawing a line around the model with your eye rather than your hand. It's more about seeing than drawing and it's extremely physical in a slow/controlled kind of way - it *killed* my upper arm and my shoulder/back muscles - not the fittest of people at the best of times, I spent the first 3 days of summer school stiff and sore and complaining to beat the band.
Anna arrived for the afternoon session - a tiny, lithe woman, I am hard-pressed to ever recall seeing anyone as thin. She was so tiny you could see all her bones all the time. We did gesture drawings a lot with Anna and she was great at posing for them. Gesture drawings are quickly captured "action" drawings. What the body might look like reaching for something from a top shelf or tying one's shoes or walking up a step or what-have-you. I found these very difficult because you need to capture the essence of the pose in a minute or two. So it's not about thinking it's about reacting to the pose and taking the most vital impression of it. This first morning of Gesture drawings were mostly two minutes each and that was *so* not enough time. By the end of the course it felt like *tons* of time so I guess I got smarter/faster by doing having these Gesture drawing sessions sprinkled through the next few days.
Interestingly enough, looking through these drawings to take photos for this post I realise, they are some of the best i did during the course. I didn't feel like that at the time but some distance has changed my opinion.
We finished the session with a couple of longer poses. Anna really is just lovely to draw. Especially when she lay on her front and tucked her knees up. She looked perfectly natural and seemed comfortable for the length of the pose.
After class we all made our way back to where we were staying and I was in dire need of a stiff drink. My shoulders and back were still aching from the hours of blind contour drawing we'd done in the morning session (looking back now I have about a dozen of them so no *wonder* my arm/shoulder/back/legs hurt so much). By the time Pat and I got back to the flat, Mrs Bates already had a gin and tonic and Norman was lying on his tummy on the floor playing with his iPod.
I guess Mrs Bates is a bit like me in that it doesn't take many drinks to get those sheets to the wind. After a while she sloshed the comment to Norman, "Mummy's glass is empty." which seemed to be the secret command to get son off deck and to the fridge to construct another gin and tonic.
PS: all drawings are on A1 (33"x23") paper (newsprint/cartridge/sugarpaper)