Dr. Sketchy is a bit of an institution. It is a totally different approach to life drawing, where artists get a chance to sketch theatre and burlesque performers whilst enjoying a beverage or two. Founded in New York in 2006, the concept has spread around the globe like wildfire. I used to attend the Wellington edition of Dr. Sketchy regularly, but since moving to Melbourne five years ago I have fallen off the wagon. So it was quite wonderful to return into the fold.
Here in Melbourne, Dr. Sketchy takes place approximately every six weeks. October’s event was held at BienArt Gallery in Brunswick – a space dedicated to strange and imaginative figurative art, and thus a fitting venue for Dr. Sketchy.
Dr. Sketchy makes a point to show artists that defy sexual objectification. Not an easy feat when naked bodies and alcohol are involved, but so far I have never seen it fail. Maybe that’s because the people attending these events have a passion for drawing and understand beauty is created when art forms collide and collaborate.
The performer of the night was none other than burlesque and sideshow artist BAM BAM. This sassy lady is far from your classic feather-waving, tassel-twirling burlesque girl. She is fierce, empowered, and somewhat unsettling. Any half-naked vixen who pops balloons that are attached to her body with a big knife and then proceeds to jump around on glass will have my utmost respect and attention!
BAM BAM treated us to a provocative show before she started to get into various poses. As with most life-drawing classes, we began with short poses to warm up and ended with longer sittings. The work produced was wonderful and reflected the quirky nature of the subject. At the halfway mark, artists used the break to get another beverage and to chat amongst each other and discuss their drawings.
The casual and fun nature of Dr. Sketchy allows drawing novices to feel comfortable: there’s no pressure to show and tell – one can simply take it all in and enjoy the show. It’s called ‘anti art’ for a reason. At the end of the two hour session, BAM BAM got to pick two of her favourite drawings and those lucky artists walked away with some sweet goody bags.
What I really love about Dr. Sketchy is how free and edgy it is. I appreciate the fact that the model is celebrated and truly engaged in the whole process. Regular life drawing classes can get a bit sterile because they feel like there is an invisible divide between the subject and the artist. At Dr. Sketchy, we learn a little about the person who bares it all for us. Dr. Sketchy puts the ‘life’ back into ‘life drawing’.
Claudia B. is a German/Kiwi graphic designer and illustrator who has been living and working in Melbourne for the last four years. She enjoys a good glass of whiskey and the occasional pole dancing class.
Check out drsketchymelbourne.com to stay up-to-date, and sharpen your pencils for the next installment.