Drawing on life

I want to destroy some comfort zones and tap into undiscovered regions of creativity within my foggy brain, so I go along to a life drawing class.

Nervous but determined, I sit myself down on the tiny camp chair on the second floor of the city art gallery, grip my clipboard and paper and angle my pencil.

The model strips off, takes a pose on a raised block and, as gallery visitors stroll by to nearby exhibitions, twenty or so sketchers begin to scribble.

Two three minute poses. Followed by a few five minute poses. Followed by two ten minute poses. Finally ten one minute poses, the hardest of all.

In such a public area – a beautiful, airy space surrounded by floor to ceiling windows and modern decor – the model wears skin coloured underwear but the poses are no less confrontational. You’re very close, your eyes are on the model’s curves and angles and plains, more than your sketch pad. It takes a few moments to get past the fact you’re drawing the folds and rounds of someone’s personal space.

Attempts to draw amazing life model at Auckland art gallery

My pencil flies! When I’m given a full ten minutes, it’s difficult to slow down and concentrate on making some of the details better. I give it a go. And once I’m past the oddity of examining a stranger so carefully and I’ve got a handle on how this all works, my biggest barrier is the inner critic. She’s back! Telling me I can’t draw, that I need to stop because it doesn’t look ‘as it is supposed to’, frustration builds. To be honest, I do start a few drawings over again but in the end, I find out, if you just keep going, things start to come together and that panicky voice recedes.

I push on. I keep trying. I make more lines and one or two drawings start to look, if not good, then at least a closer approximation of the figure in front of me.

In the last pose, the brave model throws herself into a bridge yoga pose – perhaps some call it the wheel – and at the end of one minute, as she collapses, we all burst into appreciative applause!

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