So today in my drawing class I had my very first experience of sketching a nude model. I'll admit, initially I was frightened that it would be an old man or someone equally... unappealing to think of naked. I was pleasantly surprised by the model we got - she was a young woman, probably between nineteen and twenty-eight or so, and had a figure that was really very "real" - from some angles her thighs looked like drumsticks, from others they looked like the legs of a model - from some angles she had a huge potbelly, from others she didn't - in certain poses her breasts were small or droopy, in others pert and full. As I drew her from pose to pose, I found myself thinking that it reminded me a lot of myself and my insecurities about my body - from some angles I have a double chin, in certain poses I look much paunchier than I did three or four years ago. It resonated with me in a way that was... familiar, but also alien.
Drawing was a surprise - at first, blushingly, I couldn't even look at her when I went up to get my chalk, and then I couldn't bear to draw her nipples which, strangely, struck me as more erogenous than her vulva. Perhaps it was that the latter were mostly concealed by shadow and thigh whereas the former were just... out there in the open. Eventually I got over it and began to really enjoy the honesty of drawing a nude figure, without the frustrations of trying to draw the fold and fall of clothing, knowing that what's there in front of your eyes is just what's there, nothing hidden, nothing to deceive the eye. When our professor began to get nervous about the old ladies who were coming in to use the room next (we rent out the basement of the church because our campus was not designed with art students in mind) she had the model wear clothes for the final pose, and it was strangely upsetting. Ironically, when I spotted a bit of the outline of a nipple through her dress, I was comforted to know that the body I'd become familiar with over the last two hours was still there, and that I had a point of reference as to where everything clean and simple was under all that fabric.
She's coming in again next week and I'm really looking forward to it - in large part because I was shocked by how well my drawings turned out. I've long held that I can't draw people, but it's the clothing that's been throwing me off this whole time, I think. Animals are made of simple, beautiful structures and curves and patterns and, without clothing, I've discovered to my surprise that people are too!
I'll take pictures of some of my sketches in a bit and upload them to show anyone who's interested. (Edit: Here!