“To be naked is to show your true self. To show your true self, is the biggest risk you will take”
In grade 11, I took an after hours life drawing class run by my art teacher. She pushed and begged me to attend for weeks, because she wanted me to experience something new, different and exciting. She was always very persuasive and persistent. I always felt she saw something in me I didn’t. She was an amazing art teacher.
Finally, I agreed to take part but because I was only 16 I had to have permission from a parent, which Mum signed the document without a question!
I was so nervous. I knew the model was going to be a guy and I kept thinking to myself ‘fuck, fuck, please don’t see right through me and point out to the class I’m gay, I don’t even know if I’m gay or not’ ‘Don’t look him in the eyes’ . I felt so vulnerable but so alive at the same time, as if it were taboo or something.
We had already set up at our tables and after a few minutes waiting, he walked into the classroom and went straight to the supply room where he would change. ‘Oh shit this isn’t going to be good, this guy is a freaking dreamboat; contain yourself Casey for fuck sake, contain yourself otherwise you’ll fuck it for yourself and you’ll be outed infant of the whole class’ I’m guessing he was about 24.
When he came out and walked to the middle of the room, he was in his briefs. His body was slendour and toned, light to medium olive skin, dark hair and he had a very calming and relaxed demeanour. I promised myself I wouldn’t catch his attention, but as he walked past my table, I looked up and both our eyes met. What felt like an eternity for me was probably all of a second. He had the longest eyelashes and the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen in my life. The rush of adenaline that went through my body was nothing I’d ever experienced, as if he’d shit a laser beam straight through my body. He got to his stool, took of his briefs and sat down into his pose, naked.
The whole time my palms were clammy and slightly sweaty. I didn’t speak once.
To be able to draw life, you have to pay attention to your subject. You must see them, analyse them and look beyond what is in front of you. To me, I saw this young guy, shy but yet confident in his own skin. Beautiful and very masculine. Intense and dark but with a feeling of calmness that projected off of him. Most of all I noticed how vulnerable he was. Here was this guy who had just walked into a room full of Young adults and had just stripped off. Leaving himself bare, his insecurities and all, for all to see.
As soon as I put the charcoal to the paper, I didn’t stop. Looking up constantly analysing the muscle tone of his body. Everyone else outlined his silhouette first, but I focused on the separate body groups adding the pieces together as I went along. Starting at the torso, then the legs and shins. The arms came afterwards finishing off with his head. ‘ His body is a work of art’ I thought.
I was pretty hard on myself because I’m a perfectionist. Each of the arms differ in size dramatically and I was super pissed about this.. My teacher had seen my frustration, walked over and said ‘There are no mistakes in art Casey, remember this, so leave it be’. That has stuck with me ever since.
When time was up, the model was allowed to walk around and check out the artwork. Knowing he was going to be coming over to my desk and viewing my perception of him, my heart started to beat a million miles an hour, as if it were ready to burst through my chest and run away screaming. My teacher talked it up big time “look at the way he has captured your confidence in your upper body, yet included the vulnerability with your head lowered and turned away’ I nearly laughed out loud Ok, whatever miss! He looked at me, smiled and then walked away. I’ll never forget it.. how i felt that evening.
On the way home on the train, I had this nervousness about me that I hadn’t had before. When I look back at it now, I guess I had just experienced my first emotional connection with a stranger, a guy (who I knew was gay, without having to find out). Even though it was not physical, it was something of an intensity that I wanted to experience again!
It was 8pm when I walked in the front door and straight away Mum asked how it had went? ‘I dunno, alright I guess’ I rebutted back. What did your teacher think of your work? ‘Oh I dont bloody know, Mum’ I yelled. I then went straight to my room downstairs and turned on some music and laid on the bed, still with the sensation running through my body.
For the first time, I felt vulnerable in my sexuality, and any hint that I had enjoyed the experience was not going to be known by anyone else for a long time!