Arts

Arty Things to do in Nottingham: Life Drawing

It was 7.30pm and my housemate and I were heading for the only place to be seen in Nottingham on a Wednesday night; Artsoc’s weekly life drawing class. At £3 it’s cheaper than your average jaegerbomb, and definitely induces less of a hangover than Crisis; although the two are probably quite equally matched in prevalence of nakedness if sports initiations are anything to go by.

The class was held in a seminar room on the lower floor of the Trent Building. The with tables set up in a square reminiscent of the way extra-enthusiastic tutors make you shuffle around until you can all face each other. This wasn’t a good sign; I have trouble avoiding the giggles when I made eye contact with people in seminars, when everyone is fully clothed. I set about distracting myself by focussing on the equipment table.

 I have trouble avoiding the giggles when I made eye contact with people in seminars, when everyone is fully clothed.

Everything for the session is provided, from pens to oil pastels and a big pile of rainbow coloured paper. I grabbed everything I could carry, in the hope that something in the pile might magically improve my artistic talent (it didn’t). I nervously chose a carefully positioned hidden corner seat and sat in anticipation, my hopes rising with every handsome male in his mid-twenties that walked through the door. Was this our model?

The model did turn out to be male but was probably three times our age, balding and, to put it politely, slightly rotund.

It wasn’t. The model did turn out to be male but was probably three times our age, balding and, to put it politely, slightly rotund. As he de-robed the shock of being confronted by a fully naked middle-aged man initially left me dumbfounded. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or run from the room screaming in terror. It dawned on me that the second option wasn’t viable, my corner seat no longer felt so well thought out, I was trapped.

As he de-robed the shock of being confronted by a fully naked middle-aged man initially left me dumbfounded. I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or run from the room screaming in terror.

The room fell silent and I cast my eyes around the room. Everyone, obviously much more worldly (and mature) than I, was staring intently at the model sketching with ease. I took a deep breath, composed myself and put pencil to paper. After a minute or two of drawing I forgot the embarrassment of staring at a naked man and found myself instead focussing on shade, colour and shape.

After a minute or two of drawing I forgot the embarrassment of staring at a naked man and found myself instead focussing on shade, colour and shape.

Though it’s called a life-drawing ‘class’ there was no teacher to instruct us. Thankfully this meant there was nobody to judge my questionably ‘abstract’ representations, which all had missing limbs and a blank space anywhere below the waist and above the knees. The lack of judgement also took the pressure off of the experience; all attention was on the model, so nobody cared that I couldn’t draw.

I found it required focus and concentration but without the stress. Once I eased into it the class atmosphere was strangely relaxing. It allowed me to forget all else and focus solely on being creative, a rarity in a University life full of essays and exams.lifedraw2

During the 15 minute break, I had a sneaky peak at some of the other artwork in progress. These ranged from detailed pen illustrations to large-scale oil pastel sheets. The session took the form of a range of poses the model held anywhere from five to twenty five minutes. This meant everyone got a range of views which created a variety of unique and actually quite beautiful artwork.

The final pose of the day was a climatic 20 minutes of the model lying on his back, legs akimbo with literally everything on display.

The final pose of the day was a climatic (possibly the wrong word in this context) 20 minutes of the model lying on his back, legs akimbo with literally everything on display. This inevitably set off the giggles I had done so well to suppress for the previous two hours. I hastily left, relieved that it was over but also surprisingly relaxed. I came home sadly bereft of Da Vinci’s drawing skills however I did have a selection of tasteful new and original artwork for the walls (though I’m not sure my housemates agree.) Life drawing may not be something I excel at, but it’s definitely a unique experience, one to tick off the bucket list!

 Ellie Hughes

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