Working as an Artist’s Model

๐Ÿ•’ 3 minutes read

Working as an Art Model in Norwich, Another String to my Bow

An opportunity arose to work on something a little different over the past couple of weeks, working as an artist’s model for a lovely group of artists in Norwich.ย  I sat on a single chair on a little stage whilst the painters got set up in the positions where they could all see, in a semi-circle.ย  I tried to keep as still as I could but at the same time trying to take in as much as I could on my first day.

It turns out that sitting absolutely still for a few hours is trickier than one might initially imagine.ย  As an actor, I am very used to having an audience watching me perform, but it is a strange feeling to be so intensely scrutinised and measured for colour and shape.

On the first week, I was especially relieved to find, during breaktime, that everyone was only drawing or painting my likeness from the neck up, so I could change position. I had made the rookie mistake of crossing my legs and as a result, my big toe was nodding off.

I really enjoyed both mornings. It’s not very often that I attempt to be so still, both in body and mind, away from the hustle and bustle, away from tech, away from demands on my time. Just sitting and being.

I was surprised at how holding a pose and looking at the same spot made me feel quite sleepy too.ย  I asked if I could take a peek at how everyone’s work was progressing during the break. I felt more than a little self-conscious. I don’t even like my photo-face usually, so I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about my face looking back at me, in pencil, charcoal, pastel or paint.

It was fascinating. I was amazed at how quickly everyone had begun to create something, and the variation and uniqueness in style and technique.

I discovered that my relaxed face looks quite stern and grumpy. One of the artists reassuringly told me that this is quite normal for relaxed faces of people posing for a long period of time. But it couldn’t help but make me wonder, as an actor, if it is why I keep getting cast as the bitchy, aggressive, mean characters when I audition. I guess that might go some way to explaining all the unsolicited “cheer up love, it might never ‘appen” comments I’ve had the delight (sarcasm) to receive over the years.

via MEME

At some points, when my mind wandered, I was concerned that I might be smirking. There is a period at the beginning, when the artists first start work, that they appear to be measuring in some way. Some using their pencil or brushes and others using purpose made measuring devices.

Catching the measuring in my peripheral vision reminded me of a scene from the Canadian comedy program I used to watch as a teenager, called ‘Kids in the Halls’. One of the sketches used to show a couple of people having a fight from a distance from each other. They would threaten each other by shouting that they would pinch their adversaries face or crush their heads. Um… that probably sounds a little odd when described… here’s a video of it… but to be honest, it is more than a little odd, but it used to make me laugh a lot, so when it popped into my head I was worried I might smirk.

Art from the Session

Marie Cooper as artists model for a group of Norwich artists including Peter Offord of the Norwich 20 Group, Suzanne Chisnell and Phillip King

At the end of the second week, some of the artists very kindly gave me permission to take photographs of the images that they had created and to post online. The two on the top left, were painted by Peter Offord, one of the Norwich 20 Group. You can find lots more of his work including paintings, sculptures and portraits over on his website at http://www.peteroffordart.co.uk

Also, keep your eyes open for the work of Suzanne Chisnell. She exhibits all over East Anglia with her marine paintings. She also commissions Yacht Portraits. Find out more about Suzanne’s work over at: www.suzannechisnell.co.uk. The painting on the bottom right is by Phillip King, who kindly invited me along to sit for the group.

Looking for an Artist’s Model?

Are you an artist looking for a model, or know somebody who is looking for an artist’s model for hire in Norwich? Then do get in touch.

Outstanding Performance by a Creative Entrepreneurship MA Student

Image of child standing in front of a wall that has "Believe in Yourself" written on it.
๐Ÿ•’ 2 minutes read

Well, this afternoon was a surprise and a half. I pick up my mail from the doorstep… it’s late… again… and I find an odd letter. Odd because it’s handwritten. I don’t usually get handwritten envelopes, outside of birthdays and Christmas.

It’s from the University of East Anglia. I have a brief, wobbly panic because I owe them money, and I haven’t had much of that for over a decade. As I begin to read, I have the feeling that I really need to pinch myself, just to make absolutely certain that I’m not asleep.

I am fairly convinced that the words on the single page of A4 are claiming that I have won an award…. Another one?

I read it again. And a third time, just to be certain that I haven’t completely lost my marbles…

“I am pleased to be able to inform you that you have been awarded the Prize for Outstanding Performance by a Creative Entrepreneurship MA Student…ย The members of the Board of Examiners congratulate you on this achievement…. The Prize will also be announced at the Graduation ceremony in July… ”

Prize for Outstanding Performance. It made me giggle. Uncomfortable. Unbelieving. Awkward. It reminds me of one of my most favourite jokes in the world that goes something along the lines of….

I met a farmer once. He was out standing in his field.

It’s definitely my name. Definitely my address. And signed by the Head of the Interdisciplinary Institute of the Humanities.

A bit of discombobulation follows. Emotional. But I don’t cry. It’s just the shock I think… Overwhelming. I do what I always do when I doubt my introverted reality. I confer with the wisdom of social media.

Everyone is full of congrats. I haven’t popped up in an equally bizarre scenario… I am not trapped in an unfamiliar place, running late, only to find that I end up where I began….ย  I am sitting all by myself and I am still wearing all of my clothes, so I am fairly certain that this isn’t a dream.

I pop to the corner shop and buy a bottle of wine, some cheese and a massive bar of 70% chocolate to celebrate. It’s not Paleo, but what the hell? I figure that if I am dreaming, I may as well make the most of it.

Arts Council England Free Reads

Image of woman, fist in the air
๐Ÿ•’ 4 minutes read

Free Reads Announcement

I am finally able to announce that I am one of the winners of the 2018-19 TLC Free Reads. It’s a scheme run by Arts Council England for talented writers on low incomes.

It gave me the opportunity to have my writing professionally assessed by The Literary Consultancy (TLC). I’ve had to keep it under my hat for almost half a year. I was almost ready to pop.

Even being initially chosen and having my writing recognised as high enough quality is a game changer for me. I know I should not need anyone else’s approval for what I create, but I was over-the-moon, and bouncing off stars when I found out, and I haven’t really come down since. ..

I’m an Actor, not a Writer

This time last year I was rebelling against even the idea of writing my own work. I was worried that writing would interfere with, or take place of, my acting.

I frequently grumbled that I was an actor, not a writer. I didn’t have the time to sit around writing. There were lines to learn, rehearsals to attend, acting to do. There was is no way that I would be good enough any way.

But,ย studying for my master’s degreeย gave me more creative space than I expected, to breathe and to think, to indulge my curiosity and my creativity and re-imagine what was possible

I had time to listen to playwrights and writers. Space to expand my knowledge. Time to read, research and learn. It gave me time to play. To reach out in new directions and pull those new pieces together.

I dipped my toe in and went along to the free workshops with the Jenny Lind Arts Project and Script East, just to give it a go and see what happened.

It turns out, that given the room to be myself, the writer I left behind in my teens, has been hiding in there all along. Rebelling against the banality of spreadsheets and being the antagonist of archaic administration. Waiting for the time that I could find my way back to being my creative, adventurous, curious self.

It’s been a struggle of a journey, but it was worth every step. Well, except for those months I was all but living on vegetable stew. I don’t miss that bit much.

National Centre for Writing Free Reads

In November 2018 I submitted part of my play to the National Centre for Writing for the Free Reads scheme.

The Arts Council England funded scheme is an amazing opportunity for talented writers, who are disadvantaged by low income and are being held back by those financial barriers. It provides a bursary for the writer to have their work professionally assessed by The Literary Consultancy.

In December I found that my play had been selected. Just being chosen was incredibly uplifting. To have someone look over my work, read it, and consider it to be of a high enough standard to be submitted for a professional review was incredible.

I could not believe it. I still can’t believe it. Everyone is henceforth banned from pinching me, just in case it wakes me up.

There was a period of several months, during which I had to wait until I could tell anyone. A little voice of doubt in the back of my head kept creeping in and saying to me… There must have been a mistake. You couldn’t have been chosen. They must have sent the congratulations to the wrong email and they are taking a while to respond because they are trying to figure out how to let you down gently.

But then I got my review back from the Literary Consultancy. Eight, brilliant pages of feedback from a “real” published playwright that is going to be invaluable in my finishing my play and getting it up on stage.

Then today, finally, up it pops in my email. The go-ahead from the National Centre of Writing that I can officially announce it. It’s officially official. I am feeling, ‘bouncing-off-the-stars’, excited again.

I am not sure I feel as if I can put Impostor Syndrome to bed quite yet, but I am sending it to it’s room without any dinner.

2018 – Creative Journey from Actor to Actor and Writer

2018 was a tough year for me.ย  I didn’t have enough money to do my Master’s degree. But the opportunity was there, so I grabbed on to it and I refused to let go. Even though I had a far from comfortable time in financial terms and will be suffering the fallout for some time,ย  I had the most incredible year.

I am so very grateful for all of the experiences that I have had, the people I met and worked with and all that I’ve learnt.ย  I mentioned serendipity many times over the course of 2018. I’ve been incredibly fortunate.

In fact, the more that life has tried to put obstacles on my path, the more serendipitous and fulfilling life has become and more of what I actually desire appears to have flowed towards me.

2018 was a massively successful year academically, creatively, in terms of recognition, confidence, and achievement. On stage and film, ย I’ve had the opportunity to play more challenging and rewarding roles and received wonderful feedback from the people I’ve worked with.

And in a literary sense, in the acceptance and feedback on my writing . It’s given me the confidence to believe in myself and my own creativity.

Who would have thought that a year later, here I am, having just started writing a second stage play.ย  Instead of claiming that “I am an actor, not a writer”, now I can proudly and confidently say that I am an actor and a writer.

Undercroft Cabaret at Jurnet’s Bar Norwich

๐Ÿ•’ 1 minute read

I’m going to be at the Undercroft Cabaret at Jurnet’s bar in Norwich, this coming Thursday 4 April, for something a little bit different.

Mark, the organiser for the evening, asked if I could perform a short, talking-head slot for the evening. After double-checking that this involved retaining my head on my body, I agreed to take part.

I had a brief panic about what on earth I was going to perform.ย  I am so indecisive it could take me eons to find something. So, I solved that issue by writing something instead.

This will be the first time, in a long time, that I’ve got up on stage to read something I’ve personally written. It amuses me as I think the last time was when I read out my poem about the “seasons” in middle school assembly.

Jurnet’s Bar is a lovely, intimate venue and there will be a few friendly faces there I’m sure. So, although I am more than a little nervous, I’m sure that it will be a good night.

Check out The Undercroft Cabaret Facebook page for deets.

Poster showing lineup for the Undercroft Cabaret

 

 

 

Planning a 30 Day Script Writing Schedule

Image of woman writing
๐Ÿ•’ 3 minutes read

I decided to put together a 30 day script writing schedule for Play 2. And so it begins…. Well, next week it will. I recognised that I was allowing myself to get sucked into a procrastination trap. All the goals and challenges facing me at the moment, in acting, writing and creating the business, were seeming overwhelming.

Start Writing now. No more Excuses

So, I will wait until I catch up with that online workshop, until the housework is finished, until I find more time, for the neighbours to stop being so damned noisy, as well as the wind and that bird that sounds like a squeaky wheel, until I have enough money to afford to grab a drink, so I can write in the coffee shop, when I have worked a bit more on the characters, have more detail of the plot, when I can wake up early like real writers do (that is never going to happen, it’s 3 am as I write this), when inspiration comes, when I am in the right mood, when the sun rises in the West and sets in the East.

Little ballerina girls becoming a writer meme
https://writerblueprint.com/writing-memes/

No more allowing fear to get in the way. I’ve set a date for a definite start and end date (from 31st of March to the 30th of April) and how many words to write per day. Words I am going to write no matter what.

Even if I have to free-write until I get the words down or my hands curls up like a dead spider, whichever comes first. I may become a little frazzled over the coming month.

What’s the 30 Day Script Writing Plan

I just planned a writing schedule for the first, rough, ‘don’t-you-dare-edit-as-you-go’ draft. I have an idea for the play, a handful of characters that I’ve been working on (although they have no names as yet, known informally as A, B, C, D and E ), a rough plot (very rough) and now… a plan.ย 

With just 667 words a day needed to meet my 20,000 words, rough draft target, by the end of April, it’s now feeling achievable. The deadline I’m actually aiming for is June, so I will still have the whole of May to work on editing, tidying up and making it all make sense. I’m (imaginatively) calling this work ‘Play 2’ for the moment.ย  It’s the second full length play I’ve started and I don’t want thinking of a title to be another excuse reason to delay my making a start.

I’m using Pacemaker to put my Schedule together. Mostly because it’s free. Otherwise cost would have been another obstacle in the way. I’ve not used it before, I read about it on Medium, but I’m assuming the graph will automatically update itself as I enter my progress.

 

 

I’m going to get my work area ‘just so’ over the next few days, remove distractions, make sure I have everything I need (that the coffee supply is in abundance), create my title page, ‘Play 2’ to fool my brain into thinking I have already started and make a public declaration of my imminent productivity.ย 

I’m also going to get a copy of KM Weiland’s Writing Manifesto below and pop it on my noticeboard above my desk. I was going to write my own personal writing manifesto…. but that would be just another distraction.

Writer’s Manifesto

KM Weiland's Writing Manifesto
KM Weiland’s Writing Manifesto