NTKOG #18: The kind of beret-clad Picasso who casually strolls into a semi-nude model sketch session, churns out hauntingly beautiful portraits in a few masterful strokes, and doesn’t even giggle awkwardly in the process.
I am: a fairly artsy dude — or at least one with a passable passion for classic works of art, the human form, and, um, nudity?
I am not: capable of drawing a straight line, a perfect circle, or anything in between.
The Scene: Your typical neighborhood heavy metal bar (?!), on a bright Sunday afternoon in Allston, I packed up a notebook, Bic ballpoint and $8 cover charge to head to a burlesque life drawing sketch session. During the walk over, I burned with a single question: what the heck kind of people would routinely pay real human earth dollars to draw pictures of some Bettie Page wig-wearing chick wearing half of a flapper dress for multiple hours?
Mostly middle-aged women, apparently.
The back of the bar was packed with two distinct breeds of people: middle-aged braless women, and 20something girls in hippie skirts. All eyes were on the model — mid-20s, maybe, fake hair and fishnets for miles, with slim quivering calves curving up, in that inevitable burlesque aesthetic, to slightly pulpy thighs and flared, fringe-laden hips. Her lips were trained into a constant expression of amused melancholy; her nose sloped gently, like a garden path you’d want to walk down on the first day of spring. Really fucking beautiful, is what I’m saying. This bears noting for later.
As we sat through the first four five-minute sessions, it became readily apparent that I was the only member of the thronging masses who didn’t come with charcoals, watercolors, an easel, or even a proper damn sketch pad. Way to go, TKOG. Putting the “sketch” in sketching session.
After about an hour of various poses, costume and wig changes, etc, a ten-minute break was called. A Wooden Allen lookalike in an unseasonable cardigan ambled over. “You doing any nice drawings?” asked Hippie Skirt, politely. “Oh, I’m not here to draw,” letched Woody, giving me a conspiratorial wink.
The early five-minute sessions convinced me that perhaps I hadn’t given the whole representational art racket a fair shake. It was like Pictionary, without all that distressing pressure! Then we moved up to ten-minute poses, and my pictures didn’t get any better. By the time we worked up to twenty-minute sessions, I had to admit they were actually devolving.
After two hours, the novelty had worn off, both of my feet were asleep, and someone had stuck a piece of used gum to my favorite purse. “Only time for one more pose!” called out the organizer, to a moue of anguish from the assembled crowd. “But how about we work on this one for half an hour!”
Silently, I packed up my bag, slipped a few bucks in the tip jar, and slinked out of the room. Hey, Picasso didn’t start out as Picasso either.
The Verdict: Let’s just let my drawings speak for themselves, shall we?
Um, did I mention that the model was in actuality quite beautiful? So. Yeah. My most grievous error, madam. Shan’t happen again.
[Edit: Ah! Found a picture of the model. Ummm. Clearly she looks totally like my drawings.]