Misadventures in Wonderland: All the Young Nudes
- Alice White
- 24 February 2014
This month we sent Alice along to a life drawing class. Here’s how she got on.
Where was it?
The Edinburgh Drawing School is in a basement. I used to live in a basement flat nearby with a friend who let me pierce his ears with a corkscrew once – it constantly smelled of either smoke or mustard and I could touch opposing walls at the same time. This place was a dream in comparison: a large room at the front with an eclectic collection of pieces, more rooms with studios and cloakrooms and a kitchen for teas and coffees. The owner, Fiona, was incredibly likeable and I don’t think it was just because she wasn’t what I was used to in underground properties (ie. she wasn’t covered in blood). There’s so many small, privately run galleries that tend to be unfairly ignored and this is one of them.
Who was in the class?
A naked model obviously. But taking the class – an overly charming guy and an adorable isn’t-everything-worth-giving-a-go kind of girl, both in their 20s. There was a couple of unwelcoming, middle-aged women and a helpful, friendly man next to me – he showed me how to stick my paper up, which sounds simple unless you’ve had ‘don’t use all that tape’ drummed into you since childhood. Similar to how I was 22 before I realised I could order more than one drink in a restaurant.
It’s more of a technique-learning class than free expression. The teacher talks about how to shade and how to get your composition right. I'm not a big fan of being told what to do but that’s because I'm like an arsey teenager in many, many respects. However, this is actually a drawing class and not just a ‘do what you like in your garage’ class. You work on a different picture every 10 minutes, changing positions, then finish off with a final, longer piece.
But what’s it like staring at a naked person for two hours?
You forget until you remember. Having no desire to draw feet and been told not to concentrate on details on the head, I ended up with page upon page of tits and vaginas. I have both these things so I’m not shocked by their presence and I know there’s beauty in all human form, but by the end I did feel a bit like I was creating wallpaper for a serial killer’s spare bedroom. I read once that you always subconsciously draw yourself. I know the scientists behind this theory were referring to facial features but I was glad the teacher said I’d drawn the breasts too high up.
Did I see artistic potential in myself?
Of course I did, until everyone else turned their easels around. I thought because of the instructions on shading and lines all the pieces would be similar but it was wonderful seeing everyone’s interpretations of the same model. This sounds incredibly gushy considering how much I was sulking that my one attempt at a face looked like Sweep from Sooty & Co.
Life Drawing for All Levels takes place at The Edinburgh Drawing School every Friday.