An Unusual Commission

Possibly one of my most unusual commissions…
Phone call at 8.45 am:
“Alex, are you free this afternoon?”
“Possibly?”
“A lady has rung from a charity called UserVoice needing an artist for the afternoon at Rheged. She wants someone to record the meeting by sketching it”.
“Yes!”
“You will?”
It sounded fascinating and it was.
Despite the slightly stressful journey with possibly most of Britain travelling on the A66 that Bank Holiday Friday which slowed me up horribly, and my packing of equipment in that optimistic way I have, where I suddenly believe I possess four or five arms…it was the challenge of drawing people…who unlike in Life Drawing, where the model is unclothed, well lit and generally still – these people were moving, clothed and backlit from one of Rheged’s large window walls.

As I drew, it was more than that difference that became apparent and interesting.
These people were all very animated and thoughtful and engaged and focused – in a way that is quite apposite to life drawing. They were in a meeting/conference/sharing space and there was much to discuss and stories to tell.

When people are listening, really listening; they sit leaning forward, they look intently, their eyes are very engaged as they look closely at who is speaking. They may tilt their head, rest their chin on a hand, legs cross (sometimes twist around each other) and you can see thoughts jumble across their face. When they speak, hands are open, fingers splayed or arced, shoulders raise and the head becomes upright.

So I drew all afternoon. There was also someone taking photographs, but it seemed that the artist drawing in a corner drew comments and engagement. It became more and more interesting to see the passion in people’s voices and poses, and I tried to capture this.
There was little physical movement in the afternoon, so I did have some people sitting fairly still and was able to do a couple of portraits.

The drawings will be printed into cards as a memento of the afternoon for the participants and the originals will finish up framed.

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