Art is therapy
Attending an evening class was one of the most restorative hobbies I’ve ever had. It was every Wednesday after work in a local school and I was the youngest student by about thirty years.
I’d gone to WH Smiths and kitted myself out with a portfolio, a few sketch pads and some very expensive pencils.
Why is stationery shopping so much fun?
I guess it reminds you of being a kid, when choosing your pencil case was an extremely important task. Sometimes you’d have to go to several shops and weigh up your options before carefully selecting the item that would define your classroom status for the term ahead.
There were about seven of us on the course, the eldest was a man called Rodger in his eighties. His wife had recently passed away and he was there for the socials just as much as he was for the scribbles. He was the mischievous one, always playing up for the teacher, asking silly questions and chatting to others or just himself for the entire two hours.
It was time well spent and I’d leave feeling meditated. So last night after a weekend working thirteen hour shifts crêpe-making and a manic Monday at the office, I gave myself a little bit of a curated curative and dug out my HBs.
I lay there letting the pencil do all the work and my mind wander as the setting sun came in through my bedroom window.
It got my thinking back to a couple of years ago when I bought a life drawing voucher on Groupon for a Tier One’s birthday. Two hours sketching up a forty-five year old man’s tiny penis, who could ask for more?
I know that Groupon is always a bit hit and miss, but this was a whole other level of dodgy and I’m pretty confident he wasn’t even an art tutor. In fact, I doubt he’d ever picked up a paintbrush in his entire life.
It was one of those stereotypically bleak and frosty winter evenings in November. We’d rocked up to this tiny little photography shop in Birkenhead after hours; the shutters were down, but the door was open, so we entered.
The space was a no bigger than the average living room and the air was just as cold inside as it was out – validated by the intermittent billows of exhalation leaving our mouths. Photographs were hanging in frames on every inch of the wall and a few pine chairs were in a circle facing the centre.
Paint me like one of your French girls
Once all of the ‘students’ had arrived we were given a bit of an introduction that was nothing to do with drawing and everything to do with not turning the light on in the bathroom to save electricity and only flushing if it was a number two. Yeah he actually said that.
Then it was time to get our sketchpads out.
We’d expected some sort of a tutorial on technique before we got started, but instead we were handed what can only be described as a laminated page from a one man porno show. It was like something you’d see on the back of a really low budget DVD, except, for whatever reason, one person had been photoshopped out.
A tanned and muscled up naked man with bleach blonde hair in an 80’s quiff was lazing in various poses numbered from one to fifteen and what we had to do was select which one we wanted him to ‘perform’.
The awkward tension in the room was palpable and we were all looking at eachother with those eyes — those eyes that send messages without a word needing to be uttered. And HELP was the telepathic message I was putting out there.
We simultaneously agreed on the most prude of options to start with — a seated position with legs both facing sideways. He tightened his lips, lowered both corners of his mouth and nodded as a waiter does as if to say excellent choice madame, then proceeded to move a chair to the centre of the room.
He was a pale, white man in his mid-forties with mousy brown hair, wearing nothing but a tatty old ochre dressing gown that had been through the wash a good few hundred times. It was tied loosely around his beer belly and hanging low enough to reveal his eleven chest hairs with pride.
He slowly moved towards the chair with the prowl of a decrepit lion and paused to face his audience. Our eyes widened with fear and anticipation. I felt a strange sensation of wanting to laugh and whimper at the same time and a little bit of bile rose up from my stomach as he slowly de-robed before us.
La pièce de résistance was definitely much more Birkenhead than Baywatch.
We reluctantly picked up our pencils to sketch the outline of his distinctly unloved body. And then, every fifteen minutes, we had the absolute pleasure of selecting another pose from his laminated one-man porn show.
The Erotic Recline
Three poses deep we were getting a bit more at ease with the naked stranger in front of us and I actually found a bit of admiration for him.
He was clearly desperate for cash and actually, stripping off for a couple of hours to pay your electricity bill is a pretty quick and easy way to make some moolah. It’s also really brave being naked in front of eight strangers, scrutinising every lump and bump of your being and inadequately sketching it up.
Our finale pose was what we later named the erotic recline, for which I had front row seats. He lay down on the centre of the rug, with his arms behind his head, feet touching and knees out. And yes, front row seats means I was at the toes end, close up and personal with a tiny little penis on a cushion of giant bollocks.
It was nearly nine o’clock — I was tired and getting delirious from all the dick. My eyes could no longer send telepathic messages and my laughter could no longer be stifled… I erupted into a fit of the giggles. The poor man continued to professionally lay down like the Greek God he wasn’t while I choked on my own chortles and moved to the other side of the room for a slightly less disturbing view.
I left with no newly acquired art skills and feeling slightly like Seth in Superbad with a deeply erotic collection of member masterpieces… but it did give me a good idea for some money-making when times get hard.