First impressions

Lester looked like an accountant, too shy to even look me in the eye. Maybe he’d meant to enrol in tax law down the hall but got the form wrong.

There was one easel left so I set up next to him. I didn’t need the tuition. I just enrolled to keep my eye in. I’d try not to be too critical of my classmates.

The model entered, let her robe fall.

‘Three-minute poses,’ announced the coordinator. ‘Just concentrate on form. Use these to loosen up.’

I knew the ropes. I swept my charcoal in fluid arcs across the page. Next to me Lester was scratching away.

At the first break he came behind me, looked at the work on the easel, and the sheets on the floor and said softly, ‘very nice.’ And they weren’t bad. I’d been a good drawer back at art school and I could happily say I hadn’t lost it.

Ah well, I thought. Better return the favour. ‘How’d you go, Lester?’

He just pointed to his easel. A single sheet filled with figures that were exquisitely observed, energetically rendered and passionate. My God, I thought, you’re a dark horse. And I wanted to break through to him. Get to know everything in that yawning gap between the drawings and the man who made them.