Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nude Descending, and so on

20 minute modified contour drawing, pencil

Community figure drawing studio at my alma mater this summer has been - I'm searching for the right adjective here - a mixed bag.  On the plus side, the space is fine, large, well lit, comfortable.  I love taking a chunk of time out Monday evenings for direct observation drawing, like our two models, enjoy the time I spend working larger than usual, and faster than I do at home.  

The not so good part of this summer has been the low participation, and the anxiety connected to that.  The model fee is split among whoever shows up, and when only two or three show up, the cost is higher.  Why so few?  Who knows.  Maybe people are more scheduled this summer than previous years, or maybe the undraped model is intimidating.  Maybe there are personality conflicts that I know nothing about.  Maybe people are unhappy about the uncertainty of what they will be required to pay.  All I know is that it's too darned bad, and that if people are not interested or able to attend, the opportunity will vanish.

5 minute drawing, model, in belly dancing costume

One of our models this summer is a young woman who is a belly dancer, and she agreed to model part of the evening one of her costumes, a beautiful affair with a beaded and sequined bodice and belt, and coral silk swirling skirts.  I was also intrigued by her metallic headpiece, with its fringe of pendants and semi-precious stones.  She clearly enjoyed modeling the outfit, and showing us some of the moves.

5  minute quick sketch, charcoal and pastel

Perhaps having costumed models for summer,at least some weeks, would be a less intimidating way to get people involved in drawing, and it certainly would be a nice break in routine; it was certainly nice for us.

Anyway, all this considering of models, draped and undraped, brought to mind this favorite poem of mine, written by X. J. Kennedy:

Nude Descending a Staircase

Toe upon toe, a snowing flesh,
A gold of lemon, root and rind,
She sifts in sunlight down the stairs
With nothing on. Nor on her mind.

We spy beneath the banister
A constant thresh of thigh on thigh—
Her lips imprint the swinging air
That parts to let her parts go by.

One woman waterfall, she wears
Her slow descent like a long cape
And pausing, on the final stair,
Collects her motions into shape.

 --X.J. Kennedy