I was panicking. Panicking. There was a naked woman on the ground in front of me and she had an irritated scowl. I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but she did. With a resigned sigh she adjusted a small heater to her left and positioned her limbs.
“Five minutes begin now,” an elderly man called out from a corner of the room. He was also the same man responsible for the classical music selection.
Back in university a late night study session meant holing myself up in the darkroom and breathing vinegary fumes till 3am. The radio would weave in and out of reception while I tapped my feet and developed photographs. I loved working at night when the art building was completely deserted and whenever I used my keys to enter the building I felt a sense of power and seniority. During the day I was one student of many, but at night I was in charge of who could or could not enter the photo lab.
Because of my dedication to my specific focus, there were other fields that I neglected like ceramics and oil painting and life drawing. Once I graduated certain subjects become harder to practice (ceramics), while others remained just as accessible (life drawing- apparently nudity is easy to come by) . In fact, within a two minute walk from my job is a historic building called the Turnbull House. Every Thursday evening at 5:30pm, inside a nondescript room with plush red carpeting, a group of (mostly) retired folks gather to sketch nude models. Barret had attended a few sessions, so I decided to join him one night and try my own hand.
So that is how I found myself sitting at a laminate table with a pencil in my hand and panicking. There was so much to draw and so little time. I frantically hovered over the page, indecisive as to where to begin. Should I start with a rough outline or just jump right into drawing vaginas and breasts-would that be creepy?
It seemed like something one should accidentally stumble upon; like while drawing a thigh my pencil took a wrong turn and ended up snaggled in a thicket of pubes. With time running out on the warm-up drawings I began at the only place that felt was safe ground- the hair on her head. This was really going to improve my understanding of anatomy.
How to get to the Turnbull House: 11 Bowen Street, Thorndon, Wellington