Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dr Sketchy's Anti-Art School, 22nd November

This is a tale of how NOT to do a Dr. Sketchy. 

First of all, if it’s happening at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, like it did last night, don’t turn up early expecting to have a few drinks beforehand. The RVT as it is often known, is not a regular pub, open all day and hosting the occasional event. It is a venue ONLY open for events. Doors open whenever your event says the doors open, not before. 

Secondly, even if it seems logical to sit at the back because there’s a large group of you and this area will accommodate everyone sitting together, don’t. Even though the RVT isn’t massive, it is big enough for the stage to feel quite far away. Not conducive to getting any facial details down, especially when you've had a few and everything looks a bit fuzzy anyway. Also, there are a few poles dotted around, and from where I was sitting they tended to block out at least a third of our subjects when they were posed. 

Thirdly, take something to lean on! In my head I pictured us all sitting in the round with our subject in the middle, possibly wearing white smocks and berets, and with easels provided. This was a romantic notion purely based on sitcoms I have watched where a character takes an art class. In reality, it’s taking place in a pub, where there are lots of you and no room for easels. You are provided with some paper, some drawing materials and that’s it. Actually, there were a few boards available, but not enough for everyone. 

Fourthly, don’t pick a hard-leaded pencil. Soft leads or chalk are much more forgiving and instantly make your works of art look much more like works of art. Smudges look professional and it is much easier to shade in large areas. I had an HB which, when Dusty was going around assessing our works, barely showed up in the dimly lit room. Not good. 

Fifthly, probably better to drink more early on, than having a few throughout and then at the end practically downing two mini bottles of wine. That’s a good rule for a night out in general I find. 

If you get these things right then you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the show. Or rather, sit up, pay attention, get drawing and enjoy the show. For there is a bit of a show element. Your host for the evening is Dusty Limits, a man whose reputation precedes him, in my case anyway, as I am always seeing his name mentioned in conjunction with cabaret nights and burlesque. He actually directed the phenomenal Prospero's Tavern that I saw by the Boom Boom Club. He is a consummate host and more than a little pleasing on the eye as you can see from my uncanny likeness of him here. 

He starts things off by getting people ‘warmed up’ for drawing and explains that it’s not about ability, it’s about doing things your way. We have a scribble to get out any aggression and to just break the daunting first time you put pencil to blank paper. Then there’s an exercise where you have to draw without looking at the paper (see above for how well this comes out). Then the first subject comes on. But she doesn’t just come on and assume a pose. She does a bit of an act first, in the guise, in this instance, of a mega-Rolf Harris fan (although, who isn’t one really - Jake The Peg - classic!), which involved a parody of “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid. It culminated in her stripping of her anorak and Rolf Harris t-shirt to reveal two little Rolf-heads covering her nips. She wasn’t the best singer in the world, but she’s got good comedy timing, the song was funny and it’s always nice to see some tits. 

Then it’s time to draw – first two minutes getting a feel for her (FOR her, not OF her). Then a different pose, and a “theme” to encompass into the drawing. This time “wind storm”. Then another five minute drawing, which I liked the most, where you start drawing Frankie von Flirter, our muse, and then Dusty starts telling you things you need to add to your scene – like killer bees, turning the setting into a jazz/poetry night, a tyrannosaurs rex is attacking her! And then she has to contend with Hilary Clinton! Sadly I seem to have misplaced most of my drawings from the night so I can't share the masterpiece I created with this scene. I may not have won any chocolate coins or tiny snowmen but I was still proud of it.

You see, what I didn’t realise before I went was that there is an element of competition involved. After every round Dusty comes over and judges you, sorry, I mean judges your composition and you may get a reward if you’re sufficiently good, or sufficiently atrocious. I like to think I’m somewhere in the middle and this is probably why I got bubkus the whole night. At the end of the evening you can submit your best/worst work for a chance to win a grand prize, which I think was some sweets and maybe, a diary. Big prizes folks!

There wasn't just Frankie, there was a little eye-candy for the girls (and guys of a certain persuasion) apart from the luscious Dusty. For the second act we had a model who was dressed as a sailor. This guy was a little hard to draw as he kept moving around. That's my excuse for the below, anyway.

Also, he didn't get one single piece of kit off, despite us loudly hinting that he should. Disappointing. But Dusty promised that there would be some man stripping in the next half. We waited eagerly.

After another round of drinks out came a man-pilot strutting to Highway to the Danger Zone! But... wait a minute. "He" looks a little slight and his mustache isn't convincing. No, it's miss Frankie again! She does another striptease, this time to "Take my Breasts Away", and very funny it is again too so despite my dismay at not seeing any man-abs, I'm enjoying it anyway.

Dr Sketchy is a really fun night. I would strongly encourage drinking, as does Dusty, and not worrying about how well you can draw. Of course, if you do have talent then it is still going along because drawing is the name of the game for this night. They just don't let it detract or spoil the fun. 

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