Late in 2018 I chose to challenge myself. I joined a public speaking club, did a 43-metre bungy jump, and contacted Life Drawing MK about modelling.

Why life modelling? Two decades ago, travelling frequently as an IT consultant, I became addicted to pornography. Through personal development I overcame the addiction—only to find it stemmed from an unconscious shame of my sexuality. I wanted to know if I’d overcome that too.

Misgivings

I wasn’t too nervous as the session approached, but I had misgivings. How would I react to a roomful of people staring at my body? Had I gone too far?

I needn’t have worried. The session was in a repurposed warehouse in mid-winter. The heating had broken down. I was more concerned with keeping warm than anything else. But I loved seeing the artwork and talking to the artists about their individual approaches. I was hooked.

Husborne Crawley Life Drawing
Image: Husborne Crawley Life Drawing

The more I posed, the more I was drawn into the artists’ world. I learned that a little muscular tension changes a flat surface into a series of ridges, like those Japanese paintings where silhouettes of mountains fade into the light. It’s infinitely more interesting to draw.

Dawned on me

I stopped being self-conscious. Instead, I started thinking about the fall of the spotlight on my body, about presenting something of interest to each artist. I put myself in their place. That’s when it dawned on me: they weren’t seeing my body; or, more accurately, they were seeing my body in another light.

The artists were seeing planes of light, muscle groups, geometric solids juxtaposed at awkward angles. I was a living jigsaw puzzle to be reassembled into a drawing of a human being.

They were seeing planes of light, muscle groups, geometric solids juxtaposed at awkward angles. I was a living jigsaw puzzle to be reassembled into a drawing of a human being. One artist referred to each pose as “a gift.” It’s a gift that I hope to keep giving.

This year I’ve decided to challenge myself again. I’m going to try figure drawing. I can do the naked thing. Confronting a blank page with nothing but a pencil—that takes courage.

This article appeared in the September 2020 Life Drawing MK newsletter.

Image: Life Drawing MK