Life Drawing Session: Male Model

Pose #1
The big toe is pointing at me. The skin is milky like cream and completely hairless, which is unusual for a grown man. Although, I’m old fashioned when it comes to the idea of manscaping. I’m accustomed to untrimmed hedges and wild fields of ferns. This is more like a wintered over plot of skin.

Pose #2
He reclines with back to the wall, upper body propped up on pillows, bottom (left) leg is straight with top (right) leg bent, foot draped against the side of opposite knee. The light shines from two directions, casting double shadows. One shadow huddled in the corner, hatching a plan, the other leaning in with a stern warning to adversaries. The hand is cupped against the forehead, still and comforting like a gentle pat on the head or a gesture of blessing or a freeze frame of a smack to the forehead in realization that he is wrong, or the start of raking his face while sorting thoughts. There’s a divot in the wall the shape of mainland U.S.A. His knee is poised beneath it in a way that makes it seem as if he kneed the wall, leaving that engraved stamp behind.

Pose #3
His profile in silhouette towers over him, leaning in, as if whispering a secret in his right ear. He relays the message to a shadow on the left, whispering in circles like a game of telephone. The message convolutes more and more with each repetition. Mishearing, faulty memory, and human error impose themselves on phrases passed from one shadow to the next.

Pose #4
Arm raised high, fingers curled around a railing like a hook. The palm of his hand is hanging. A voluptuous curve like cleavage travels to a forearm and pointed elbow. Visible tendons stretch along the triceps to a bare underarm. He waits nonchalantly for something unknown. His eyes gaze down at the timer. How long must he stay in this pose? He’s in a fallen baby tree pose (sapling pose?) with one foot turned out, resting sideways on the other. His calf muscle on the bent leg is defined, a duck egg protruding from the back of his skin. The curve of the abdomen forming the flat edge of an inverted isosceles triangle, the sides pointing down to the intimate jest.

Pose #5
He’s stretched out on the bed, staring at the ceiling, eyes fixed on nothingness. He’s floating there – all shadows have vanished. What must it be like to have time to ponder problems and possibilities without shadows surrounding, following, nipping at your heels, leaning in, towering above. The angle of the elbow, the visible ribcage, the relaxed way the upper and lower eyelashes kiss with each blink. The barely perceptible rise and fall of the chest. The collarbones smiling beneath a flushed neck and a tendon rising to an ear like a tiny shell or the spiral of a fiddlehead fern.

End of Session.

Life Drawing Session: Female Model

“There’s a whole story to it. It’s like a take over the world game. The board is the map of the world. I didn’t play. Me hanging out with three old men is not my idea of a good time. I went for a walk last night. Dogs, I have two. He has one, but it lives at his parents’ house. He’s getting too fat.”
“Your boyfriend?” asks another artist in the room.
“No, the dog. He’s got bad hips. He’s really young. I tell him you’ve got to stop feeding him people food. He says, ‘I already do! Blah, blah, blah.’ He acts like a teenager. He has little outbursts of being a teenager. But he can also tap into this goofy.”
This model is so chatty. It’s difficult to focus on my art. It is a challenge.
She’s still talking. “I do Bonsai but not on purpose. I neglect them, so they don’t grow much. You can start a Bonsai from any twig, so long as there is life in it. It’s amazing. When I go in there. Every kind of tree is Bonsaied.” She raises eyebrows and index finger. “Actually, I have to pee. I have to remember to bring my robe.” Nude, she leaves the room.
The door opens. She flitters through it. “I do have a hair tie! It’s on my wrist.” She ties her hair into a ponytail. “I have ten minutes left so I’ll just do this for the next ten minutes.” She settles into position. She’s still except for her lips. “My mom was happy to have weird characters in the house. Plus they brought her food in bed. She enjoyed that. Oh, and I posted a painting I did in my car of a sunset. A guy messaged me if he could see it in person and I met him. He bought it. Facebook’s good like that.”
The other artist in the room says, “I’m building a Memorial that looks like the Viet Nam Memorial. Writing names in Blue Text on a Blue Wall. I’m going to experiment with that. Doing a lot of research. Big installation in my studio. It’s intense. Reading all these stories. They really add up, compile, um, add up all the unarmed people of color who have been shot and killed by police officers. There’s a lot of gray area. I’m going to call it “The Blue Wall of Silence,” like the impossibility of Police Officers to be honest.”
Silence came for a total of thirty (perhaps twenty) seconds as plans for this powerful project hung in the air.
“My boyfriend’s a cop.”
End of Session.

Lisa L. Leibow says, “My work has been published or is forthcoming in Coe Review, CommuterLit, Courtship of Winds, Crack the Spine, Diverse Voices Quarterly, Eleven Eleven, Entropy Magazine, Evening Street Review, Five on the Fifth, Folly, Griffin, The MacGuffin, Mulberry Fork, NoVA Bards, The Penmen Review, Pisgah Review, Red Rose, Rougarou, Sand Hill Review, Sandpiper, Sanskrit, and Umbrella Factory Magazine. My work has also been nominated for a 2022 Pushcart Prize. I earned my master’s in writing with a concentration in fiction from Johns Hopkins University, and I teach at George Washington University. I recently launched and co-founded an activism through storytelling arts movement with Julia Alvarez called The Scheherazade Project. I am a Faulkner-Wisdom Award novel finalist, a three-time merit-based grant recipient and resident at the Vermont Studio Center, and the winner of Pitchapalooza D.C. I have attended numerous conferences, including AWP, Algonkian Workshop, and the Writer’s Digest New York Conference, among others. In addition, I was a member of the planning committee for the Washington Writers Conference from 2017-2019.”