I am retiring. The time has come for the torch to be handed to another artist. It has been my pleasure to facilitate the figure drawing group since 2012. Yes! It has been 5 long years in which I have grown artistically, met some amazing people, and formed friendships. Here is a little look into chapters of the past, the impact the program has had on my life, and a few good memories I will never forget!
2012: True Love
I had just graduated from college and need $$$. I need it bad. Jen would ask “Lana, do you want to clean the studio?” Yes. “Lana, do you want to teach a class?” YES. “Lana, do you” YES!
So I found myself leading drawing group, a totally new experience for me and a little scary at first to be honest. There is nothing like asking someone to disrobe and stand in awkward positions in front of a group of strangers. Finding models was tough, so I turned to friends, family, and the regulars who frequented Spring Street Bar on Tuesday nights. Hey, I was just out of college.
The handsome Jake Reed (yes, he is my husband now!) was one such individual who took on the challenge and took off his clothes. Ladies calm down, he has retired from modeling, but you can see one of my first drawings of him above.
EARL. If you have ever visited one of our sessions you have probably heard this story. To help find nude models, I put out an ad on Craigslist. Lo and behold someone answered! Earl.
Earl showed up in a red corvette, he had driven across the state to grace little Quincy, IL. He showed up early and prowled around the Art Center’s exhibits. I was nervous. This was my first nude model that I didn’t know. There was a summer storm brewing and things were feeling weird. To my surprise, the session began and was running pretty smoothly. Earl was an experienced model and while he told us some strange stories about his nudist colony days, he was doing a pretty good job. Then the heavens opened and the rain came down, the fire alarm went off, and everybody panicked.
Except for Earl. Throughout the alarm going off, he stayed cool, calm, and totally naked lounging on our stage. I want to mention a few things to really set the scene for you. Earl was retired and at least 65 years old. He was reclining on a zebra blanket we used for padding. He was completely nude and looking majestic.
That’s when the Quincy Fire Department walked in the door to make sure everything was ok. After a strained conversation and avoiding all eye contact with the Firemen, our building was deemed safe and we proceeded with drawing since Earl was still striking a pose.
2014: The Beautiful People
I don’t have a great story for this year, but there were lots of beautiful people who modeled and stopped by to draw. The attached drawing shows either Emily or Bobbi. Both ladies were gorgeous and modeled numerous times for the Art Center. Emily taught classes, helped around the Art Center, and moved half across the world to spread her love of art to the children there. Bobbi, moved to Georgia where she is continuing her education.
Another model, Kayla had been quite pregnant when she modeled for our group. While this drawing isn’t one of my best, it is totally an emotional snapshot of that time. Her baby is growing into a beautiful little girl. This past fall that “baby” showed up to ArtFest and painted a rock. I like to think she feels comfortable at the Art Center and creating since she has been immersed in it since the womb.
I have mentioned just a few of the models over the past years, but all of them have been great! I hope all of them look back at their modeling days with a certain sense of pride.
I think it took a while for everyone to get comfortable enough to share their drawings. Somewhere along the way, the artists became open to learning from each other and a sense of comradery pervaded. It became a custom to layout the drawing at the end of the evening and share thoughts and ideas. These “critiques” were and are not brutal, but more of a cheerleading squad for each other. If you ever show up in the future “Hey, I really like what you did here” and “Very Emotive” are some of the phrases you might hear.
This environment was perfect for aspiring art majors and over the past year students from John Wood Community College, Culver-Stockton College, and Quincy University have joined our group to draw and learn. Occasionally, one of the students will stick around and become a model and a comrade.
One person who started attending was a bearded guy named John. He was a free-lance graphic designer and loved to paint and draw. Over the weeks, we talked more and more and we became friends. Friends meet friends, love developed, and now John is married and my neighbor. Not to be a creeper, but I can literally look out my window and see his house. This “stranger” continues to attend the figure drawing sessions and even dressed up in a pirate costume to model!
2016: Artistically Speaking
I have once heard that it takes 10 years of practice to become an expert. I can attest to the fact that if you repeatedly practice drawing every Monday for 5 years, you will improve too. I can look back on my drawings and see that there has been millions of tiny improvement over the years, and there is a still lot of room to get better! Artists are not born with a paint brush in their hands. The road to a good painting is paved with a lot of crappy ones. Yes, feel free to quote me on that J
Making art is a life long struggle to create, explore, reflect, and strive to be better. That being said, I plan on continuing to attend the sessions once they start back up in August as well as my own personal practice. I hope that you, our dear reader, will be dually inspired to express your creativity too and join us on Monday nights!
Maybe Mondays aren’t for you, but with the ever changing adult classes, kids classes, and special events the Art Center provides all year long, there is always something for everyone. GET INVOVLED! Perhaps you will meet the love of your life, make a new friend, meet your future neighbor, hone a skill, or develop a passion. What are you waiting for?