1. The subject of Saturday’s life drawing class was facial expression – how to render joy, fear, surprise, anger, worry etc by study of the various facial muscles responsible for forming the expressions we associate with those emotions.
The model for the afternoon was a very pretty girl who had modelled the week previously during my holiday at the school. I would show you a drawing of her, but I don’t have any that are fit to be seen because, and let’s not beat about the bush here, she was RUBBISH.
There is a great deal more to life modelling than a) being pretty and b) being happy to take your clothes off in a room full of strangers who will stare fixedly at bits of you and mutter over how tricky your hands and feet are.
One also needs to be able to HOLD REASONABLY STILL, damn it. Twitching and fidgeting constantly is aggravating beyond belief, because every little movement changes what we see of the relationships between all the parts of the whole. If you are basing the size of the upper leg on the proportions of the lower arm and hand resting across it, and then the muppet model moves said hand and arm, your careful drawing is screwed.
Similarly, the shape of a person’s eye is completely altered if they were looking sideways and are now looking down, no, wait, now they’re looking up, no, hang on, they’ve closed their eyes… you get the picture. Even if we didn’t.
Furthermore, as you can no doubt imagine, when you are trying to draw a facial expression, the model also needs to be able to ACT. They need to simulate an expression of fear, or surprise, or joy, or sadness.
This girl could simulate two expressions:
Neither of which were worth committing to paper.
2. When you come to Australia, well-meaning people warn you about the venomous spiders, aggressive snakes, enormous crocs and lethal sharks. But what they should warn you about is the wretched bloody pollen.
I have never suffered from hayfever – in fact, I used to count my blessings every Spring back in the UK while everyone else was seemingly rendered blind and miserable by it.
The pollen of this unique island continent is made of sterner stuff, however, and can fell a whinging pom at 100 paces. I’ve been feeling lethargic and stuffy-headed for nearly three weeks – I can’t believe it took me that long to figure out what was causing it and get myself drugged up.
3. This morning I awoke to this:
Oh, alright, not quite that, I confess Godzilla is photoshopped in, but the skies genuinely were that orangey-red. A massive storm blew dust in from Australia’s ‘Red Centre’; every surface is now coasted in red desert dust. Its almost biblical.
Here’s the view from my balcony and kitchen window at 6am:
3. One of the pregnant women in our office starting bleeding yesterday afternoon. Not good. She’s 28 weeks. We dropped everything and jumped in a cab to the nearest hospital, keeping calm and positive, and were treated very promptly, kindly and efficiently by the staff of the Royal North Shore Hospital (I mention it because it normally gets a bad press) where the fetal monitor quickly found a nice strong, regular baby heartbeat (thankfully) and a scan and blood tests revealed that everything was okay for the moment.
However, they’ll be keeping her in for observation for a couple of days at the very least and she’ll certainly need to have a caesarian delivery when the time comes, due to the position of the placenta. Here’s hoping that the baby can stay inside a while longer, every day more will help his chances.
I am extremely thankful that I become more calm in a crisis, rather than freaking out. It was pretty scary, though.
And you can imagine how, in an office full of women, there was a fair amount of anxious drama to play down this morning. However, it was all well-meaning and I can confidently assert that every single person in the building would go out of their way to provide whatever practical assistance our Mums-to-be might need. I’m very lucky to work in such a supportive environment.