A few years ago, I was part of a life drawing group in Denver. It was a small assembly of people that just wanted to get together and draw the human figure. Naked. Not us, the model was naked, although it would have been much more interesting if the roles were reversed. It would have been much more revolting, as well.
We would hire a model to disrobe and then strike various poses for 2 or so hours. Some poses would be short, some would be longer. The artists would sit in a circle around the model and sketch furiously. We seemed to predominantly hire female models, I’d say about eighty percent of the time. I guess male models were more difficult to find, which is surprising. You would think that guys would jump at the chance to flash their junk.
One evening, we hired (unbeknownst to us) a grungy hippy with dreadlocks. She arrived in all her dreadlocked glory, unshaved armpits and nether regions – unwashed, too. As a model, she was not so good, striking uninspiring and limp poses. The worst part was that she carried a rather aromatic pungency (if that is a phrase.) Our circle of artists kept scooting back further and further as the night progressed. During breaks in the drawing session, when we would mingle with each other, and sometimes converse with the robed model, she casually walked around buck naked, gulping a very tall glass of wine, oblivious to the rest of us.
We did not hire her to come back.
Another evening, due to the scheduling nature of the gallery where we met, we were forced to set up the drawing circle in tighter quarters. The model for the night was a veteran for our group, having posed several times before. The tight circle of the drawing session forced all of us to be approximately four-five feet from the model – very close. As it turns out, it was the model’s time of the month, meaning she was on her menses and the flow must have been fairly heavy. I’m not sure if she felt that wearing a tampon, with the resultant dangling string, was inappropriate, but she was most definitely not only leaking, but she was also emitting an unmistakable smell of the situation. Once again, we all scooted back as far as we could as the night progressed, not wishing to inhale the odor of sweat and blood.
And you all thought I was going to write about the smell of turpentine and oil paint.