I do find the setting of the models at the life sessions I go to very uninspiring – mainly people sitting rigidly in a chair or stretched out on a bed, hoping to get paid for a good doze. Most of the problem is down to the organiser not having thought about what to set until faced with a group and model. In a similar situation someone turned to me in desperation to set a pose for a group on Thursday. They got the above –  maybe more than they had bargained for (too many sharp angles and hands on display).

A number of years ago we had a model in Liverpool who had worked for both Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. Now, he could get himself into some  amazing contortions and hold them as well. Bring back Phil. I think he relocated to York.


This pose is more the type we get, though I did get her to look down – otherwise she would have sat even more rigidly looking outwards. I try to refrain from interfering when the pose is being set, as there is nothing worse than people calling out their preferences and you get a pose set by a committee which can be a disaster.


I am back to using acrylics after a spell with pastels. For the top two I started to use black to mix darks instead of a blue. The bottom one used blue as you can see. I prefer the rawness of the top two. I have been taken by the work of Crawfurd Adamson, whose work I have seen over the years and  this has influenced my approach on the top 2 sketches. I have booked to go on a 3 day course with him in my old hometown of Hastings in December. I do particularly like the directness he applies his pastel and the interesting poses he sets. I am looking forward to it.

Other life paintings can be found on my website:


  1. I always marvel at your figures Graham. This post gives one good insight into what goes into “setting up” the pose – had no idea it was that “involved”. This aspect alone would agitate me, but I guess we can’t hire our own models as easily.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Deb. I suppose it follows the old computer adage – rubbish in; rubbish out. A good pose, good lighting (dont get me going on to lighting…) and a good selection of viewpoint all go towards an eyecatching outcome.
    I have thought of hiring models myself. Around here they charge around £15 per hour, cash in hand – maybe different for you rich Californians – but as I dont sell many life paintings, and my main interest is landscape, I have put this option off – but I may reconsider. I have hired models for groups I have run and I would imagine it is pretty similar everywhere if you wanted to do it. It’s just making contact.


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