Photo -JACKIE – 1972
Life Figure Drawing
As good fortune would have it, weeks after I closed Botany House I got a phone call from my art school life figure drawing instructor. He knew that I loved to do life figure drawing from an artists model.
George said that they have formed a group of Chicago area illustrators who worked for local newspapers and ad agencies. He told me that they meet every Thursday evening, 5 to 8 pm, at his downtown Chicago studio. He was wondering if I’d be interested in joining them. And actually after the session, they all go out for dinner at a local Greek restaurant.
What a great way of getting back to my art career and to good Greek food. George is Greek so the food has to be good. And surrounded by professional illustrators would definitely be inspiring. Drawing from the artists model is my favorite weekly exercise.
The following Thursday I packed my large black leather portfolio with a stack of 24×36” oak tag manilla colored papers. That color and size was always my favorite. Sturdy in body it didn’t wrinkle and stayed flat against the backboard I used to clip the paper onto. Of course I had other pads of paper but I loved the 24×36” size. My favorite drawing tools were charcoal pencils. which danced and sang on the smooth manila color paper. Occasionally I used very thin black ink pens.
I arrived about a half hour late, heavy traffic from the suburbs to downtown Chicago. Then it took time to find parking. I trekked up the narrow creaky staircase with my large and very heavy portfolio in hand. I opened the door to the second floor studio where there were about 10 men, yes only men, seated and busily drawing from the model.
The model was on a model stand in the corner of the room, and everyone formed a semi-circle around him. As I walked around the room to find an open space and easel to set up for my drawing area, I noticed that not one of the artist’s drawings included the model’s penis. It was as if the model came without one. Amazing, these were professional illustrators, who were very used to details.
The model was a male, black man, nude with the longest penis I had ever seen. Now understand we had plenty of nude male models all through my art school years. So when I say the longest penis that I have ever seen, I have seen and drawn many and this was the longest!
So I set up my 24×36” tall paper and started at the top with the model’s navel. I decided to go to mid-thigh and to do a portrait of the part of the anatomy that none of these guys could see. I made this drawing extremely detailed since it was a closeup “Portrait of a Penis” my title. On the 10 minute break I continued to add details to my drawing, since I arrived late. Remember this was a life sized or larger than life drawing.
As the guys took their break, word got out to take a look at my drawing. They’d stretch, yawn and wander near the windows behind me to see what I was doing. After the break they returned to their spots and continued on what was this long one hour pose, with two ten minute breaks.
As is customary in a long drawing pose, you would walk up closer to the model to see details that are hard to observe from a distance. Those were usually details in the face, but not in this case. And so I did walk up close to observe veins, hair etc that I chose to include in this once in my art career drawing. On completion I think it was one of my finest drawings ever. But most of all it was a statement to these guys who were there to draw, but obviously intimidated.
As for me it was how I introduced myself to my new found art friends. We ultimately did become art buddies and I can report that they did include all parts of the anatomy in their drawings after they took their break and saw my drawing. It’s a fun memory. I actually can’t share the drawing because it was sold to a silver and goldsmith artist who loved the scale I chose for this portrait. Goldsmiths work on tiny detailed pieces.
This could have been another piece in the “Erotica” series, but I didn’t repeat the moment or that kind of portrait again. I really prefer drawing faces. It was a fun moment in time in this lengthy art career.
The Art of Modeling
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