Tab Tries: Life Drawing

ADRIAN GRAY tries life drawing and doesn’t get an erection.

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I was nervous as I walked from my room to Christ’s visual arts centre. After telling my friends I was taking a life drawing session I’d heard such worrying statements as “they make you get naked”, “it’s all just perverts” and “Nigel Farage is going to be there even though he hates Europe”, though admittedly not all of these were related to the initial assertion. Either way, I was prepared for the worst.

6.58pm and I arrived at the studio.  From within emerged some sort of David Baddiel/Noel Edmonds hybrid. He was short, stocky, and appeared to have ransacked a James May-themed branch of Oxfam. “Are you here to draw?” He queried, unveiling a lyrical Italian accent. I was, so nodded, before rushing through to the back of the room and knocking over an easel. During the next few minutes about twelve more students bumbled in, the lights were dimmed, and we were addressed by our host.

“This week”, he said. “I am afraid the heating is not working.

Alarm bells.

If there was ever an excuse for a tiny cock it was a reference to faulty central heating, and I thus assumed I would be spending the next two hours shading the floppy Italian phallus soon to be freed from this man’s aged Levi’s. Fortunately this wasn’t the case, though, as an attractive female entered moments later and proceeded to throw her dressing gown to one side.

First thought: thank goodness it’s not the bloke.

Second thought: don’t get an erection.

Third thought: actually, if I do get an erection that would be something funny for the Tab article, so maybe I should.

I didn’t. But you can pretend I did if you think that’s amusing.

Before the actual drawing began we were given a brief presentation involving a projector, some uncooked spaghetti, and a woman’s bottom. Although supposedly a lesson on symmetry this felt more like a hestoon blumintal recipe hahAhafasfkadshf!!!1

Now, during the session I felt under some pressure to make my drawings shit. They were going to be in The Tab; if they weren’t humorously shit then I’d have failed. ‘I’ll make her boobs hilariously pointy!’ I thought. ‘I’ll make one of her arms look like a cheese string or something!” I mused.

Unfortunately Baddielmonds was like a hawk. He glided across the room with disconcerting velocity, snatching glances at participants’ work while muttering ‘yes’ and ‘mm’ slightly too loudly. If I got bored and drew a hairy nipple, he’d spot it, so I was going to have to try. Luckily I am actually a bit shit at drawing, hence, a lot of what I produced could easily have been deliberately poor anyway. The highlights of my attempts are displayed below.

Fig 1. A bloke with one leg, a nice bum, and a RIDICULOUS cock.

Fig 2. Pregnant Bigfoot dances to thriller.


Undeniably, it felt a touch odd to be sketching the second girl I’ve seen naked in Cambridge and also ever but, after a while, I began to enjoy it. There’s something therapeutic about attempting to draw an arse, getting it wrong, trying to rub it out, realising charcoal just smudges if you try to rub it out, getting another sheet and starting again. Something peaceful.

When the session ended we were asked to spread our work across the floor and told to discuss our experience. The first few participants commented on the motion, aggression and innocence of what lay before them. There’s a chance that this wasn’t a satire of every arts subject ever, but I’m pretty sure it was. Sadly when my go arrived I was incapable of continuing this trend with any dignity or grace. Unable to see anything but a horny teenager’s wall from the pre-photography era, I muttered something about playfulness then went red.

Irritating attempts to be funny aside, this was actually an enjoyable two hours. The atmosphere was relaxed and inclusive, and the process of sitting and drawing genuinely quite immersive. The sessions run every Wednesday at 7pm in Christ’s College Visual Arts Centre for £5 a go, and I thoroughly recommend them.