This was a life drawing study I did about a year ago now. It was the first time I’d attended a class and a long time since I’d returned to art after my school years. I was nervous about what I could create in a room filled with cool, confident and arty students who held a pencil like a protest against paper. The woman entered and de-robed, assuming her position on the chair at the centre of the room and our collective gaze.

Perhaps what I’d captured in the tentative pencil strokes and the smudges of charcoal was an insecurity not only mine. I’ve realised that I drew someone quite faceless, devoid of identity and any bold form – apart from the jagged lines of downcast eyes peering off the paper into the left-hand corner. We both felt vulnerable in that moment. Did she also have something to prove to herself? I’d not pursued art, choosing instead an academic route which left little time for the practical creativity that had given me so much joy.

What if I couldn’t draw anymore? There is an almost palpable fear to make any mark too permanent on the paper, as if it would be committing to something unchangeable. By no means do I consider this a great life drawing, but it does make me wonder just what we put into our art. If it isn’t our own fears, longings and lines – what’s left?


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