On a sweltering hot day .....eleven loyal labourers doggedly climbed to the top floor of the mill and, in spite of the oppressive heat, struggled and toiled towards their shared goal—that of creating a piece of art work based on a human being who is willing to bare his soul.
Our model, Steve, had arrived the most hot and bothered of all after being cooped up onboard a crowded train which was also running late. However, being the consummate professional that he is, he soon regained his cool and remained gracile and poised for the rest of the evening in the most appealing and evocative pose.
In an attempt to cool things down, two powerful electric fans were loaned to us by our friendly photographer neighbour. These are usually the source of models’ glamorous windblown effects so often seen in magazines, somehow it did not manage the same effect on my hairstyle, rather the phrase ‘dragged through a hedge backwards’ came to mind, nevertheless we were after comfort not glamour. Did I really just say that and mean it? Comfort not glamour! Damn it, I did!
Back to the plot, which I am rapidly losing, Lucien Freud said ‘The simplest human gestures tell stories’ and this pose and attitude which Steve struck, though not simple, did seem to tell a story and invoke a sense of introspection and vulnerability, watchfulness and wariness. The form was compact with limbs folded and gracefully almost intricately embracing his body making a very powerful statement. Had I the time to complete this study I think I might for once have actually got it all on within the boundary of the page.
I am pleased to see that featured painting is Fiona’s, the delicate, pale colours on the form and the fragile outline contrasted against the bold blocks of background colour seem to convey so acutely the sense and meaning of the pose.
Cathy’s drawing also fascinates me. The figure on the right being defensive and fragile as suggested by the delicate line work while the figure on the left appears to be Steve’s alter ego bold and fearless.
Tom was working at a very different angle and viewpoint from usual this week. The resulting drawing is beautifully sculptural and captures the folded compactness of a body which has morphed itself into an almost abstract form
All the drawings this week show a degree of fresh inspiration from this stimulating pose and I would love to paint this again in a longer session. I think it may be a pose that only Steve can make work in this way but perhaps the models themselves have a better idea of this than I.
by Sandra Cowper
Paintings and drawings by Cathy, Hadyn, Ivan, Roger H, Roger S, Sandra, Steven, Sue, Tom, Tony and featured artist Fiona.