Friday, February 3, 2012

The one in which I discover that life drawing is another skill I have yet to acquire

At my WI we like to liven things up a bit, teach our members new skills that they might otherwise not learn. Not for us a dry talk on the lesser spotted bastard of Salisbury Plain (or should that read 'bustard'?) or 101 ways with Great Aunt Matilda's hat. So for our first meeting of the new year we decided to have a go at Life Drawing, a new artistic endeavour for most of us and to be honest, the only way we could think of to get a naked man to come to our meeting. Strangely enough, the idea of a naked woman was never even suggested.

An art teacher was sourced and booked. She offered us her models who we managed to ascertain was about 60 and had a beard. Now, I've nothing against beards but if I was going to turn out on a winter's night it would need to be for something slightly more aethetically pleasing than a hirsute pensioner so we set about finding our own model. The advantage of living in (or at least near) a garrison town is that we have more than our fair share of fit young men and so it was in that direction that we cast our net. A well placed word in the ear of one of the commanding officers and two suitable candidates were procured.  I suggested a panel interview so we could assess their relative 'merits' but this was deemed a bit too pervy, so in the end we relied on the wisdom of our Prez to decide which one we chose.

In the end we went for the lovely Graham, a tall, very game Scottish soldier who had 'a lovely body to draw' according to someone who actually went for the art... go figure!  Originally we'd discussed only partial nudity, we'd let him keep his boxers on, but then, thinking it would probably be better for drawing (yeah really!) we decided on full nudity.  The news was broken to Graham. We hoped that, having faced the Taliban, albeit fully clothed, the prospect of getting his kecks off in front of a full village hall of women would be only marginally more frightening.  I did also check that he understood that we are a young WI so it wouldn't be a room full of matronly women but more likely of a similar age to him  Ok, well I might be flattering myself a bit there.

The evening arrived. It was the coldest night of the year, well below freezing but, dear Reader, if you want a sure fire way to get women away from the TV and the central heating on a winter's night, the answer is, sadly, a naked man.  There were twice as many people at the meeting as we would normally have.

We set a 'stage' up for Graham who hung around nervously watching us all file in. We plied the women with alcohol but not, sadly, poor Graham, who's the only one who probably needed a stiff drink. He seemed to be edging closer to the door.  I warned The Prez that he might bolt. Maybe the taliban was preferable?  Our art teacher suggested that he was already naked when everyone arrived to avoid a 'ta dah' moment when he took his dressing gown off  but, to be honest, a naked man lounging around while we were all signing in and buying raffle tickets would probably have been even more weird than it eventually was.

I think it's fair to say that he was probably the first naked man I've seen since meeting The Husband over 20 years ago, well, apart from one ill-fated Hen Night at a rugby club where a male stripper left me with a mild case of PTSD. I don't know what I expected, I don't know what he expected. I thought he'd be lying around, artfully draped in the white linen sheet I'd bought along. What I didn't expect was to turn round from fiddling (quiet at the back!) with the heater we'd brought along to keep him warm, to find him standing there, stark naked in a Usain Bolt-esque pose.  And my goodness, he had an extremely large............. tattoo on his back! I sort of squeaked and jumped. I guess you can take the girl out of Tunbridge Wells but you can't take Tunbridge Wells out of the girl.

He had to hold the pose for 10 minutes then change to another one while we tried out different, and in my case equally useless, drawing styles. I was only glad that I was sitting to one side so I didn't have to study his manhood in order to recreate it on the page. That said though, I think he'd be delighted at the proportions bestowed upon him by some of our artists. Mind you, this was before we'd been taught how to measure properly.

There was a little bit of sniggering from some people - you know who you are - and whether or not we created anything of any worth is debatable, but we had a great evening. Graham was a real sport, Mrs Graham was very good to lend us her naked husband for an evening and God knows what will happen the next time any of us run into him in Morrisons. And quite what the village hall committee would make of a naked man sitting on their prized fabric chairs, who knows, but now at least we now all know what a Scotsman keeps up his kilt.





12 comments:

the fly in the web said...

Full house by the sound of it!

Do you think political canvassing would go better if they dragged a naked candidate to the hustings?

Perpetua said...

ROFL! When's the calendar coming out then, Wylye Girl? No wonder you had a good turnout. :-)

Vera said...

I would have giggled. I would not have been able to stop myself. I would not have giggled at him, bless him, but at my efforts at trying to draw his bits, and being a people-watcher, I would not have been able to stop myself from watching how everyone else reacted to the experience of painting a naked man either. Love the WI. Never been a member but wish I had of been when in the UK.

About Last Weekend said...

Very very good. And loved that he let you take a pic at the end with his robe on. he does look like a good sport. I've done life drawing but only involved rubenesque women of uncertain years.

Steve said...

I did life drawing at college many moons ago when I was a young student. We had a breathless pensioner who looked like Victor Meldrew. No matter where I say I always ended up with the posterior view.

I stuck to still life after that.

lavenderjack said...

I've always resisted our local WI, due to the fact that the average age is about 70. I can't see the prospect of life drawing every cropping up, but kudos to your group. Makes it sound positively tempting, but only from an artistic point-of-view of course!

Sarah said...

What a brilliant idea. More evenings like that and you'll have them queuing to join the WI!

Iota said...

I so want to join your WI. Forget my book club!

projectforty said...

I have the (optional) opportunity to do a life drawing session a week as part of my degree and started to go back again last week having completely forgotten how to start. I thoroughly enjoyed it and think I might suggest it to our WI!

Wylye Girl said...

Fly, I think it would very much depend on who the candidate was. I'm afraid the thought of any of our main party leaders in the buff makes me slightly nauseous!

Perpetua, I think we'd have to have our lovely Graham from January through to December with possibly the pensioner chappie on one month. Not to many volunteers for the other months!

Vera, I did spend as much time watching other people as drawing - or trying to. There was some sniggering but by and large we were all very well behaved

Wylye Girl said...

ALW, he was amazing. It's must have felt like one of those dreams where you are standing naked in a room full of people with their clothes on, except its real. I wanted to ask him how it felt the moment he took his dressing gown off but I thought it might sound a bit pervy!

Steve, I see certain similarities between still life and naked men... bananas... plums...oh, stop it!

Lavenderjack, the WI has launched WI Lite which sounds like a diet program but is actually aimed at a younger age group. There are quite a few springing up all over the country. We have a traditional WI too and its fair to say there was a certain amount of ill-feeling when we set up but now they've got used to us and anyone who they think is too young for them, they send to us.

Sarah, it certainly bought lots of lovely dosh into our coffers. We toyed with the idea of having a naked man at every meeting but decided it might get boring!

Iota said...

And now you have drawing skills and will be able to illustrate your book!

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