11 Jan. 2017

Graphite & Easel: A review

Graphite and Easel is a life-drawing classes led by Artist Emma Stroude. It takes place in The Model on Fridays at 10.30 am. To resurrect whatever waning artistic talent I may have left, I decided to give Emma’s class a go. Life drawing for some is the most essential of all artistic practices. It trains its students in a variety of skills like shape and form, space, line, colour and texture, components that are crucial for any artist’s repertoire. Because I haven’t been to a life-drawing class in quite some time, I am a little too eager and I arrive at Emma’s class at 10 on the dot. Thank god, she’s already in the education room with a friend, setting the stage.

“So, who’s the model?” I ask, secretly hoping for a woman because men are impossibly boring to draw (they’re just a couple of straight lines with a lumpy bit after all).

“You’re getting the best model,” Emma’s friend informs me.

“Who’s that then?”

“Me!” she tells me.

The class starts to fill up around 10.15 so any newcomers interested in attending Graphite & Easel are advised to arrive that little bit earlier. There’s a pretty big crowd but there’s plenty of easels to go around. Emma takes to the middle of the class to give us the low-down on the schedule. We are to do a series of warm-up sketches to get us moving, then our model will pose for longer periods of time followed by a short break.

“No problem,” I think, “Sure, I’ll be a little bit rusty but I can shake that off in the preliminaries.”

Oh, how wrong I was. During the warm-up poses I can’t quite believe how good I am not. In fact, some sort of clinical separation between body and mind seems to be at play here. My brain knows what it perceives and what it would like but my hand refuses to oblige. When did my fingers become sausages? Why can’t I draw? Who has done this to me?

Our Model seems to be switching poses with rapid speed. I glance around at my classmates to find that I seem to be the only one breaking a sweat. The other students are as calm and focused at Buddhist monks. Am I the only one who believes that our Model is not so much posing as vogueing?
It turns out I am. And that’s because I’m out of practice. I stumble upon this conclusion when we have a short intermission and Emma encourages us to take a waltz around and view each other’s work. When I take my turn around the room I discover that although I may have struggled, my classmates had no such issues. All levels are welcome at Graphite & Easel, and every group is represented here. From shy beginners to the very the intimidating masters, we are all accounted for but the overall standard of work at Graphite & Easel is excellent.

So much so that your dear correspondent took one look at her neighbour’s haunting charcoals drawings and fled the room, rather then having to stick around and justify the glorified stick-woman I’d managed. I took solace in the café and chatted to others from the group. Everyone was friendly and the atmosphere is one of goodwill and encouragement. When our break is over, we filed back into the education room; I was ready for round two. It’s easier than the first half, partly because I’ve warmed up and partly because I left my massive ego at the door.

Graphite & Easel takes place in The Model on Fridays from 20 Jan.
10.30am – 1pm, €10 per session.

Posted By

Rebecca Kennedy