Black and White Pinwheels
He preferred to work with charcoal – today the model was female, the charcoal captured her shadows and curves sublimely. Matty traced the curve of her stomach in the air in front of him and then repeated the movement on the paper. He had fallen in love with the beauty of the human body a long time ago. Probably around the same time that he started to study human physiology at school – learning about the complicated inner workings of his body. By learning more about the inside he became more aware of his body from the outside. The way everything fitted together – bones, muscles, tendons. Even the simplest of movements involved a chain reaction of enormous proportions. He began to watch people at any opportunity – he couldn’t describe their faces but he could remember the curve of their shoulder or the angle of their elbow. Initially he recreated them from memory and quickly progressed to life drawing classes.
His bus journey home was slow – rush hour traffic not quite dealt with. Just as they seemed to make some progress the bus came to halt – a change of driver. Matty looked up from his magazine and glanced out of the window. Opposite he saw a guy take a run up at a set of concrete bollards and, in a sequence of movement dance across the top of them. He leapt from there to a high wall and without appearing to draw breath somersaulted backwards – his body like a pinwheel. Matty grabbed for his sketchpad and charcoal sticks – eager to capture the body appearing to defy gravity. He was too far away to capture the true details – he quickly sketched basic shapes in an arc across the page. The bus jerked forward and slowly re-joined the flow of traffic, oblivious to his longing to remain parked a little longer.
That night Matty attempted to recreate the performance from memory – he couldn’t do it. He could fill in the gaps with his knowledge of anatomy but he lost the essence of the magic. He researched parkour videos on ‘Youtube’ to no avail – it was like watching a play or ballet on DVD – it’s never quite the same as capturing the moment in real time.
The next day Matty took the bus into town making his way to the place where he’d seen the guy. It was a long shot but he had to give it a go. Luckily the guy was there.
“Hey. Hi. Can I have a word?” The guy looked up – he had been stretching. “Yeah?” Matty grasped the moment. “I’m an art student up at the uni and I wondered if you’d let me sit here and draw some sketches of you doing what you do? Look. Here’s my sketch pad – no funny business, honest.” The guy looked at the pages proffered. Before he could say anything Matty launched into an explanantion – describing his interest in the physiology of movement and time spent learning how to better capture the body through life drawing practice. The guy looked up from the pages and stared into Matty’s face “Yeah ok, but don’t get too close… for your own safety. So art student, what’s your name?” Matty had already started to create a space to work from – he knew the angle from which he intended to capture his subject. “Matty, Matt – whatever. You?” “Scott.”
He sketched for an hour and as he started to pack up his stuff Scott came over to look at what he’d created. “Hey these are good. Those classes are paying off. Do the models get paid? Do you think I could do some modelling – I could do with some extra funds?”
A few weeks later after umpteen emails and phone calls back and forth Scott was the guest model. For someone who thrived on movement he did a good job of remaining still. As the class were packing up Scott, now fully clothed, was chatting with the artists. He seemed to enjoy looking at the individual drawings and commenting on the differing styles. Matty had packed up and was ready to leave “Do you fancy a drink?” Scott wandered over. “Yeah why not. Where are your sketches?” Matty signalled to the portfolio propped against his bag “You wanna see?” “I do but you can show me back at mine later… maybe you can sketch something for my eyes only.” Scott winked cheekily and walked towards the door “Come on art student, I’ll buy the first round.”