s. posed naked for anderson’s class of 14 lady artists. it was a warm enough day in the big room at bob’s cabin in woodstock. s. was not at all uncomfortable about being naked. he was not the least bit ashamed of his body but something funny happened that he hadn’t predicted. when he dropped his model robe and stepped up on the platform in front of all those cougars within a few minutes of a gentle contraposto pose he noticed with growing panic that a certain tumescence of an extremely existential member of his body.
he talked to his anatomy. not out loud of course, just silently coaxing it to go down. “no no, not now… this is not the time or the place for your shenanigans.” but it was hopeless. the eyes of the women as they drew were inevitably drawn to that part of his figure whose form automatically produced some kind of vibration, a feromone symphony of … yes, there was lust in the room. as soon as s. realized what had caused this sudden attentive reaction, the instinctive expectation of his nineteen year old libido, the situation normalized.
at the end of the class some of the women came up and thanked s. effusively for lending his body to them to practice their drawing.
it is well known that one of the reasons for practicing with a nude model is just that sublimation of these rarefied energies for the elevation of the artists skill. if you are not bored, if you are interested, even obsessed with beauty you try harder to capture both what you see and the aesthetic impression which you feel. and it goes beyond sexuality. it becomes a spiritual experience.
s. was lucky. he had the anderson children to draw. not nude of course, but just doing their usual things. thay were all generous with their time and could hold a pose very well. also, he never had a girlfriend he couldn’t get to strip and lie demurely on the couch or the mattress on the floor.
but when julie came it was a marathon. and s. filled sketchpad after sketchpad with sketches and drawings of her.
s. had high hopes of being a great fine artist and knew that for his aim he needed to have great drafting skills. he would practice drawing circles and straight lines for half an hour every day before drawing. he wanted to be able to draw a perfect circle freehand. he never used a ruler for straight lines, but drew fast from a to b, dot to dot trying not to miss the mark and keep it straight.
the euphoric dream he followed was grandiose and narcissistic. unlike a doctor or a statesman artists are self centered… not selfish but self involved. every waking moment goes to serve this romantic reverence for himself as an artist. he makes himself out of imagination. he reads the biographies of great artists. he nurtures his desire through self suggestion to become something, not nothing; that path is strewn with sorrow and disappointments. s. had no choice about this. it was what he wanted since he could remember.
s. was alone that winter of ’62 so when he was expecting brother bobby’s visit he was excited. so excited on that day that he had to lie down on the canvas camp cot and try consciously to relax. when bobby came he was very happy and for days they just talked and walked and climbed mt. tom a couple of times.
bobby was a great model. he had a perfect what they call ‘hard body’, but natural, not grotesquely artificial as developed through weights or sports but like a greek statue with natural lines and healthy proportion. and the best thing… he was glad to pose, often and long. it was a great help because s. had plenty of female experience. and although he had copied all the illustrations in “grey’s anatomy” and knew the names of all the bones and muscles, sketching from life was more valuable than all of that.
just imagine the difference in vividness of drawing a landscape from a photograph and drawing as the french say “au plein air”.
so, bobby came and went and spring came and the juices were flowing and all was well with the world. s. painted every day then; upstairs in the long room. the top floor above the atlantic and pacific tea company was open and went from the windows in the front to the windows in the back. maybe forty feet by twenty four feet. this is where he stacked panels and finished paintings. the walls were covered with sketches and notations. there were a couple of beat up chairs but anderson had taught him to paint standing up.
when julie came she quickly added a few feminine touches and a rocking chair in anticipation of the coming of this new being which was growing in her womb.
s. had no idea then how rare and ideal these conditions were and how salubrious the simple concordance of companionship, shelter, food, health and few distractions were for him. anyway, now he had the opportunity to push the envelope and he did. many of the paintings were stilted or allegorical; sometimes just plain sentimental or ugly.