Again and again I meet people whose zeal for life-drawing looks religious.
“Governed by rules proscribed by artists themselves, it is a ritualistic activity” writes Doug Binder, Painter in Residence at Dean Clough (reviewing A SMALL LIFE).
Dave Thomas, for whom I have modelled in his studio-with-toilet-behind-a-flimsy-curtain, agrees that life-drawing is ‘spiritual’:
”I think all objective drawing and painting has a powerful metaphysical slant. I’m too inarticulate to express this in words but that’s the whole point, surely… There’s a long history of seeing objective representation as a critique of the essential illusory nature of visible experience: Cotan the 18th century Spanish still-life painter’s work is partly if not wholly about this. I think Berger is very good on this kind of thinking too [see ‘Life drawing’ in Permanent Red: essays in seeing, Methuen 1960]. And then there’s Auerbach’s obsessive search for the true person in his drawings. I could go on… ”
By the way, the winner of ‘First Response To Suki’s Blog’ prize – he sneaked it in when the site was momentarily live during construction – is someone I know through my pal/manager/muse Sue Vickerman (they were theology undergrads together), ex-life-model Nic Carlyle.
I too, Nic, am interested in that. How far is there an interaction, during the pose, between the personalities of artist and model? And what impact does this have on the drawing? As you know, I don’t have a religious bone in my body. But life modeling is me exposing my self – my Self. Completely. A reckless open invitation. Have all of me for two hours. It’s about connection. Well, that’s spiritual, isn’t it.
I am recently back from a month’s cat-sitting/writing in the coldest cottage in the British Isles, six miles from Lands End in Cornwall. It was a high-achievement month. I completed my illustrated poetry pamphlet KUNST (Indigo Dreams Press, Sept 2012. Pre-order here) and kept Jay-Jay the cat alive even though it welcomed me with a pile of sick. Paul and Alexandra, two brilliant performance artists were in the USA doing a festival. Going by their cupboards they live on mung beans and herbal medicines. And people say I’m anorexic.
Trying to keep warm I took up porridge. Carbs – moi! Yet I still lost a kilo. 500g off each breast, so that once again they look like the empty bags of an emaciated Sudanese tribeswoman who has suckled fifteen children.
‘KUNST’? German for ‘art’, chosen out of Berlin nostalgia (the love story of Ilka and I. Tja. Schnee von gestern). Also because of its sort of Shakespearian ring: C**t, F**k, P*ss, KUNST.
For more info re Ilka, see A SMALL LIFE, Sept 2012, pre-order here.
I also completed TWO SMALL LIVES, part II of my illustrated autobiography, which was so harrowing I took up smoking. Only roll-ups, though. I’m like Bridget Jones but poor. Okay, and a decade older. And no-one duelling over me.
I just want to love and be loved. It’s that simple. Who doesn’t? Please retort sharply, all those who don’t (you callous ice-queens).