I’ve done a lot of artwork for Derbyshire writer Stuart Haywood since I met him in 2008 and become friends with him and his wife as well. He had at that age of 72 never been naked infront of anyone other than his wife of almost 50 years when we met and because I made the experience of drawing him in the nude a pleasant one and not awkward in any way, he has since gone on to commission me for other artworks in the nude, and even has holidays at clothing optional venues, and do a naked bike ride, be featured in Chat magazine and appear on the Radio in the nude to talk about his experiences. I always say about Stuart that he wasn’t a naturist until he met me!
He reached the grand age of 80 a couple of months ago and to celebrate the occasion he had an idea for a drawing…. Ok I thought, that’s a nice way of celebrating this milestone birthday, I wonder what he wants me to do for him.
It turned out that the request was for a nude sketch, on A3 paper to match the others I had done for him, it would be of his lost youth and demand some imagination. The depiction he had in mind was of him aged about 40, still in his prime but a bit slimmer than he is now. Nothing extraordinary you would think, but he wanted the depiction focusing on his genitals, particularly a typical erection at that time since the male psyche revolves around the genitals. He also wanted a drawing of himself to match it as he is now. He asked if I would consider doing it and gave me permission to use the experience on my website.
This would take some imagination I thought, since he didn’t have any photos of himself naked, nude, or even in swimming trunks, or shorts, at that time. So I would have to work from whatever photo he had of himself of that period. Which turned out to be of him fully clothed, in a sweater and trousers in a group shot of other people, and not much of him on view at all other than his face and one hand. I had to ask for clues as to what his body looked like then which he described for me in the changes in his body then from now.
Ok I agreed I can do this I told him, but it will be a fantasy version of you, as realistic as I can make it. I said the best way of doing it would be to work from photos, so went to his house to take the photos for me to work from. His idea for the pose was just standing in a simple full length pose. After I had taken the photos I needed and he was clothed again he made the comment that a banana he had in the fruit basket on the table was the same length and girth to the erection he wanted in the fantasy drawing. I laughed and asked him to strip off again and hold the banana in the appropriate place whilst I took another photo laughing outloud about the things I do as an artist!
That was a definitely a first for me!
I went away and did the drawings as he requested. The first one of him now at the age of 80 was the first one I did since it was the easiest one, all I had to do was copy the photo of him. I was delighted with the version and thought I had captured him well.
The second drawing though, I did as exactly the same size as the other one, in the same pose but slimmed down, and with thicker pubic hair as he had described, with darker chest hair as he had described, with the face of the photo of him from when he was 40 from the group photo, and with the banana replaced with an erect penis as he had described.
When I had completed it I felt that it was the best version I could do for him, but it was when the two drawings were placed side by side I felt that each of them came into their own. The 80 year old him looking as he does now, and the 40 year old him as he remembered himself as a vibrant lusty man. I was delighted with them!
I took them to him to see what his reaction would be, and he stated he was pleased with them, although he went a bit quiet when he saw them.
It was the next day though after I’d done the drawings and delivered them to him he sent me an email thanking me, and said that having appraised them thoroughly he thought the present day depiction the best I had done for him. He said that it had taken a little time to get used to the new picture which augered well for the future. And that I was correct, they work best side by side. And thanked me for a wonderful job.
Eight hours later and he commented to me that the drawings are coming together and he thought they were magnificent and that I had done him proud and that I had captured him as 40 years ago accurately.
He went on to say a couple of days later that he had had a good look at the latest drawings of me and he agreed that they were the best I had done of him. He said it comes as a shock to see yourself portrayed through someone elses eyes and takes some time to come to terms with the portrayal but he now thinks they are wonderful. The present day one is almost lifelike and the depiction of 40 years ago is how he remembers himself. He thanked me and said that he will always cherish them as he does all of my depictions of him.
So, the drawings, well here they are… the 80 year old one as he is now, the 40 year old one as he remembers himself, and the two together which I think is a poignant depiction of him now, and then.