The Annoying Fly

Dear Marie-Helene,

Round two of a figure drawing session with a group of professional artists at the Media Arts Center in Ottawa. I’m a little tired because for some unknown reason I woke up at 5:00am and couldn’t go back to sleep. Puttered about, got caught up on my emails and out the door earlier then I normally would, in fact, I left the house so early I was the first person at the studio arriving 45 minutes before the session.

Normally we would open with some gesture poses; 10 – one minute poses or 5 – two minute poses but this time we went straight into the long pose. 3 hrs of sitting in the same position, being very still, staring at the same spot on the wall – of course I get 5 minute breaks every half hour and one long break of 15 minutes half way through the session but for the most part I’m sitting there like a mannequin in a window. How does a model keep alert during a sitting?

I don’t know what others do, some say that ;learning to meditate comes in handy – I just blank out. Most times, I think, listen to my thoughts crowded thoughts settle, figure out some problem or analyze a situation – I get my best thinking done on the podium. But today was particularly different.

So I’m sitting there deep in thought, everyone else deep in their work, CBC’s classical channel is playing some Tchaikovsky in the background and I’m happily lost in la-la land, when a simple black fly zips around my head and breaks my concentration. Remember an attribute of a good art model is the ability to stay still! Imagine, you’re in a room of at least 10 different artists with their donkeys and easels positioned at different vantage points surrounding the podium. I say this because I haven’t a clue if an artist will notice if I move, what if I scrunched my nose, or quickly used my hand to shoo the fly away, will they notice? Is an artist focusing on that part of my body and if I move, will I screw it up?

Oh Marie-Helen, I don’t know how you do it, days upon days, into weeks, into years in the same position sitting in the window. To move or not to move – that is the question.

I chose not to move while the fly zips around. Bzzzzzzzzzz, bbbbbbzzzzzzzz. I’m still staring at the same spot on the wall but now very aware of this fly as I keep track of him in my peripheral view. So I throw my attention on the classical music. I love classical music, growing up Dad had it playing all the time. Reader’s Digest, vinyl album sets, complete collection of various orchestras playing various symphonies, overtures and sonatas. Beethovan’s my favorite, doesn’t matter what mood I’m in, his music always consoles and calms my nerves, his exciting pieces stirs passion and I emote so much feeling – I live in the body listening to Beethovan.

Bzzzzzzzzz, Bzzzzzzzzzz!

The fly is back.

And this time he got too close to comfort. He’s in my personal space, flying around my forehead then down to the shoulders. What if it lands on my breasts? Or worse on my nipples? My nipples start to tingle as I am imagining this fly tippy -toeing across my breast.

Bzzzzzzzzz, Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

He flew away but I still see him in the corner of my eye, and when he escapes my view I begin to get this phantom itch on my back as I feel him hovering across my shoulder blades. Damn! This fly makes me itchy!

Noticing this fly zipping around my head one of the artists says, “Gee, I think we have fly in the room.” says one of the artists, noticing my discomfort. “I think it’s time for a break.”

Yeah, I think it’s break time too!

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