I was contacted a few weeks ago via my website by a man who explained that he and his wife had got to the point in life where they wanted to fulfill some of the things on their ‘bucket list’. And on that list was …’to be drawn naked by an artist’. The wife had already done that and was delighted with the pencil drawing she had had done by another artist, but he wanted to surprise her and have one done too. So that was why he was contacting me. We had a few email conversations whilst we discussed what he was considering having done, and he valued my feedback when I explained that some poses are more difficult to hold, and it was better to go for the option of something he could hold as a pose, whilst I drew him, rather than five minutes after I started him telling me he was agony. I also said I couldn’t tell him how long the drawing would take, as I didn’t know if he could easily hold the pose and keep still, or not. We also had a phone call which helped us both ask or answer questions of the other, it matters for me as a professional artist, and for a client to know they can trust me to do what they want doing.
We had arranged to do the drawing yesterday, and I had assured him that he would leave with the artwork.
He had asked what he needed to bring with him, as he hadn’t got a robe, we agreed on a towel. He had also told me that he would be feeling nervous as he hadn’t been seen naked my another woman other than his wife. I assured him that I was used to drawing naked people, and he had seen the artwork on my website to know that was one of the things I drew.
He turned up at the appointed time, and that was the first time we had met. We shook hands as we greeted each other and I welcomed him into the house. and made him and myself a cup of tea whilst we chatted about various things. I knew he’d be nervous.
Just before we got to the point of me drawing him I asked again what sort of music he liked, we had had the conversation by email a couple of weeks ago, and I explained that it helps me a lot to draw if I have the right sort of music, something with a good beat, and it turned out that we both liked Glam rock from the 1970s (Sweet, Mud, T. Rex, Slade) perfect for me. So that was what I played, and he stripped off and even though he was naked, I carried on talking to him in the same way, looking at his face. I had explained to him beforehand that it didn’t make any difference to me whether I was drawing a plant, or a tree, or a naked person, the same thought process went into it. The only difference was the way I drew him, as a 3 dimensional person onto 2 dimensional paper, I had to make sure he looked like him, and fitted on the paper, and was happy with the pose. So I did a five minute little sketch to show him at that point, so that we were in agreement about the drawing I was doing of him, there was no point in my spending 2 hours on a drawing and then him telling me he didn’t like it. But, he was happy, I was happy, and the music made us both happy. Because its about the right experience, for him as the client, and for me as an artist. We both had to feel happy. I also wasn’t sure how still he could hold the pose, and he could easily, although every so often he said his knees were seizing up a bit, so we stopped for various cups of tea through the session, to let him rest, and for me to check over the drawing that it was looking right.
I kept checking with him about how much detail he wanted me to put into the drawing, We chatted about various things whilst I drew him. places we’d been on holiday, music we liked, live bands we’d seen, and what else was on his bucket list.
He was trusting me to do a good job for him, and I wast trusting that he would pay me the amount we had agreed, at the end. He hadn’t realised how much measuring I had to do with the pencil, against the paper, and I explained that’s how proper life drawing is done, with me holding my arm out straight, and the board infront of me vertical, and my bringing my arm in to the paper, and making the mark I had measured with my artists eye, and with the pencil, and getting the angles of his body correct too, we had discussed the pose being a bit erotic, and hinting at what his left hand was about to do next. and I had explained about negative shapes, like the ones between his arms, and torso, and not making them symmetrical. He is also looking straight at the viewer, although you can’t tell that with his head blocked out for privacy reasons. It took years for me to learn how to do life drawing, its the most difficult of drawing techniques, but once learnt, artists can draw anything that way. I explained all that to him.
By the time he left he had a drawing that he loved, and I loved too. I had fulfilled what he had asked for, and he had realised that its not easy to pose, as he had expected it would be, and I agreed, its hard. Its also hard for the artist to do a good drawing, and make it right, and make it look like the person being drawn, capturing the essence of that person, me talking to him helped me.
I asked him if he was happy about me putting the drawing on my blog and website, and he agreed he was, but with the face covered, he’s happy for me to mention his name is Anthony, and when I asked him what I shall call the drawing he suggested “Part of the later in life bucket list”. So that is what it is. And here is the drawing I did of him, with the face covered.
Later on that day he sent me an email saying:
Just wanted to say another big thank you for making today so friendly and relaxing. With the cups of tea, music and chitchat you dispelled my nerves. I am absolutely thrilled with my portrait and I look forward to seeing XXX face when she sees it on her birthday. Look forward to reading your blog tomorrow and seeing myself on there!!