After seven months, he finally arrived on my doorstep. I welcomed him in with a smile and a “At last, we meet!” comment which he smiled at and agreed. Its not often that a commission takes so long to arrange, but he’s been really busy with work commitments, and I’ve been busy with art commitments when he has managed to be free, but we got there in the end and arranged it eventually and here he was. I offered him a coffee which he declined, but he was fascinated with the view from my window and I remembered that he’d said that he had lived in the next village when he was a child so of course he knew the area very well and told me about the surrounding area and where people searched for work in the different towns in different directions. We chatted and got to know each other, although we’ve spoken on the phone we haven’t seen each other and I had no clue as to what he would look like, I knew he was a couple of years older than me, but not his body size or height or facial features. But of course he was looking at me too, and getting to know me as I got to know him.
I asked him which pose he was thinking of, I know he had told me on the phone he wanted a standing one, probably leaning against a wall or doorway, so whilst he was still clothed, I asked him to show me, and he went into a couple of easy poses, and straight away I said that I don’t like symmetrical poses as they’re too boring to look at, and he agreed and leant one arm up against the wall but I said it make his arm look foreshortened and awkward and also would cause him some problems keeping still and getting pins and needles. He went back to a hands down by his side pose again but made a couple of small movements that changed how his hands and arms were – one against his body, the other leaning on an upright chair, one of his legs slightly leaning forward so the other leg was more upright, very gently throwing his hip in one direction. The whole pose was subtle and elegant, masculine, but not overtly so. I liked it, and told him with a smile that it would work as the pose. He smiled, and as he was about to strip off I asked him what sort of music he liked – “Rock” was the short answer (but the right answer as far as I was concerned!) and I happily set the ipod to a selection of rock classics and he went into the pose, and I started drawing with a dark brown Conte pencil on an A3 sheet of white cartridge paper. The first marks making the paper come alive, and as I measured and drew, and listened to my favourite rock tracks, and he held the pose so well there wasn’t one movement from him but then he’s used to posing for artists in life drawing poses, but was far more still than anyone else I’ve drawn. I’m always impressed when a model can stand still, since I can’t not even for two minutes without wanting to move or scratch a stray hair that suddenly is tickling my neck. He wasn’t a chatterer whilst I drew him, and I prefer not to chat whilst I get the first lines on the paper, whilst I have to concentrate. I don’t mind so much though after when I have got that right, and am working more on the tones. I quickly got into the flow of drawing, loving putting the marks on the paper, and building up the picture, the form, the positive shapes, the textures, features, and fine details.
He asked for a break when he wanted one, and I was glad that I had the main line drawing done at that point as that’s the most important part. He was happy to have a coffee then, and I made it for him, as I drank my tea and we chatted then about his stressful job, and life drawing anecdotes, and shared interest in travel. Five minutes later we were back in the pose and both listening to the music. He made a couple of comments when he heard various ones and when the distinctive intro of “Smoke on the water” came on he said “I’ve seen this performed live, with the original line up” which impressed me, as I’ve seen Deep Purple too but some years after that. When “Alright now” came on, I said with a grin “This is my favourite record!” and he smiled and said “I was just about to say that!” so we shared the same musical tastes liking Free, and I said “I’ve seen Paul Rodgers play live twice, once at DeMontfort Hall in Leicester, and once at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, and stood six feet away from him as he sang on the stage, seeing my hero” and he nodded at me and then said as Queen came on “I’ve seen them play at DeMontfort Hall, they were the support for Mott The Hoople!” which made me gasp in surprise, wow, you think of Queen being instantly a hit band, not a support band!
The picture soon was finished, and signed. He was happy with it, and so was I.
He found the experience therapeutic he told me as he put his clothes back on, the standing still part and clearing his mind, listening to the music and holding the pose. I find it an enjoyable experience too, and love the interaction between artist and model, both creating a work of art between them. He told me he already had a frame ready for this drawing and was going to put it on his study wall. I love it when a painting has a place to go to. And I also love it when its made with a shared enjoyment of music 🙂