Sketching out a life model legacy

Life modelling sounds daunting to many, but for the brave few who attempt it, it can be a truly transformative experience. A serendipitous encounter at a life drawing session brought together life model and artist Bobby Napier and life model and photographer Jesse McDonald, who together decided to create a program of empowerment for women who are battling body image and self-esteem. Sketch Marks prepares women to sit as a muse, and celebrates the power of life drawing as a tool for self-acceptance.

“Sketch Marks came about after a negative experience modelling for myself, and a positive, transformational experience modelling for my partner,” says Bobby.

“We met, shared our stories and the project was born.”

The Sketch Marks training program is available to all women, and the bi-monthly life drawing sessions are open to the whole community. Together Bobby and Jesse hope to create positive change to the lives of many.

“Sketch Marks is for everybody,” Bobby states.

“A lot of people seem to think Sketch Marks is just a training program for models but it is so much more than that! We are working with a GP, psychologist, a counsellor, and two art therapists to ensure we are doing everything right by these women.

“We have created a training and preparation program, based on cognitive behavioural therapy, with a lot of self-love thrown in, and of course training and preparation to be a professional life model.”

On completion of the Sketch Marks program, the participants will sit as an artist’s muse for a small group of professional and emerging artists, and will receive some of the artworks created on the night. The women will also receive a beautiful silk robe to keep and to use for future modelling jobs, if they wish to continue as a life model. If they do, Bobby and Jesse will put them in contacts with classes and private artists.

“What makes the classes special for the artists, is that we are breaking down the barrier between artist and model,” explains Bobby.

“Historically in life drawing classes, you are looking at a human form with no emotional context, however in these classes, you will be looking at a person. The model in each Sketch Marks session, will share her story and her struggle, with the supportive audience present.”

“Life drawing is skill based,” continues Bobby, “and it can be challenging to capture what you see, but it is an honour to have the chance to try, and so rewarding when you do capture it. I think having the extra connection with the models in the Sketch Marks class will make this even more rewarding for the artists present.”

And for first timers or those who may just be curious, what are some of the unique benefits of life drawing?

“Life drawing classes are a beautiful way to connect with other artists, emerging, professional or first time sketchers! It’s always a relaxing night, the atmosphere is pleasant and friendly and it’s a great way to break up the week.”

There are info sessions happening on 21 April in Burleigh. Like to keep up to date with what’s happening, contact Bobby and Jesse and register your interest.

Interview by Samantha Morris
Story by Natalie O’Driscoll

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