art · chronic pain/fibromyalgia · medications · rabbi · writing

Naked People

I’m taking a Figure Drawing class out here in what my rabbi calls, “La la land.” I’ll admit that it’s strange to be classmates with George Clooney’s landscaper. Plus, I learned in my writing class that when people say they’re “in the industry,” they mean Hollywood.

The class, which is held at a local community college, is a lot of fun. Three hours, one night a week, for six sessions. I figured as long as I’m trying to get my creative juices going here, I meant as well let all of them working so aside from writing, I’ll be drawing here and there.

I’m not a big fan of my teacher, though she’s nice enough. She’s one of those “Fine Arts” buffs. She thinks that anyone who does art in any other way should be deprogrammed. She thinks starting a figure drawing with the top of the head is insane. She’s having us do “contour” drawings of the figure, which basically means doing an outline of the entire figure (from the feet up to the head). Basically, it’s like the chalk outline police officers draw around a dead body. Then we’re allowed to start our pieces. In fact, she used some colorful expletives to describe her feelings on commercial artwork. That was just a tad too intense for me. But I figure since I am paying her to teach me something, I might as well try to learn something from her without gritting my teeth too hard.

By the end of the three hours, my arms were in excruciating pain. Drawing is really taxing on my arms and back muscles. My little infusion of pain medication didn’t cut it at all. The teacher looked at me like I was totally crazy when I told her I was having a hard time rubbing in the charcoal with my hands to shade the figure. I tried to explain vaguely that it was because of a disability and she finally tried to help me figure out a different way of doing things. It still hurt. By that point, I couldn’t even tell if it hurt less to do things her way.

My husband almost had a heart attack when I told him about the class after we met up after his Spanish class, which he takes on the same nights I take Figuring Drawing. Apparently, I hadn’t mentioned earlier that in Figure Drawing class, we basically spend three hours drawing a nude model. He recovered eventually, though not too quickly. My in-laws, who heard about my class from my husband, apparently think the whole “drawing naked people thing” is uproarious. My mother-in-law asked if the model covered his “thing” with something and when I told her that he was totally naked, her eyes nearly crossed as she started laughing again.

Here are two pieces I created in my first class:

And here’s a link to an article I wrote, Ugly Naked Guy, about my first Figure Drawing class in college: A personal essay about a modest girl’s foray into Figure Drawing and the illuminating results.

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