Review: All The Young Nudes
Every Monday night, All the Young Nudes run their friendly, laid-back life drawing club at Sloans. Their emphasis is on drawing for fun, and everyone is warmly welcomed.
I’d been to their nights a few times before in Dundee and I’m a big fan, so I was looking forward to dropping into a session here in Glasgow for a much needed breather from impending deadline dread.
Anecdotally, I always feel like when I’m able to make spaces in my life to be creative in whatever way, I feel a lot more content overall – and to be honest, this is hardly surprising. In 2017, a study found that life drawing with nude models can have a positive impact on body image, and it has been proven to “increase embodiment” and “reduce social physique anxiety”. Science has spoken: life drawing is good for you!
Entering the room, the chairs are arranged in a large circle around the perimeter, with the life model posing in the centre. A range of materials are provided at the entrance, so you don’t need to bring anything with you at all – but you’re welcome to if you do want to of course. You’re free to shuffle seats across the night to capture different angles, but equally you’re free to just chill in the same spot throughout.
A playlist of good tunes provided the soundtrack to our night, and we were free to bring drinks down from the bar to sip as we sketched, which is always a plus. The night started off with some quick three-minute poses as a warm-up; I hadn’t drawn in a while so it helped me to get into the zone and not get too bogged down with the finer details to begin with.
Eventually, we moved onto working with longer held poses, and we were so engrossed that the two hours went by in a breeze. There’s something really immersive and relaxing about getting to turn off your thoughts for a little bit, and focusing solely on drawing what’s in front of you.
Although the friendly team were around if we needed some drawing pointers, the focus of the sessions aren’t on drawing tuition – they’re about drawing for enjoyment. It’s a really welcoming, non-intimidating space, which is definitely what we need more of in the arts generally.
That’s one of the things I love about All the Young Nudes – people of all experiences and skill sets are welcomed. You could be an art student, you could never have picked up a paintbrush in your life, or you could be somewhere in-between: it’s open to everyone and anyone, and you don’t need to consider yourself “creative” (although I’d argue creativity is something we all have!)
The emphasis is less on skill, and more on enjoying the process of creating something as an end in itself. Saying that, the more you practice, the more you naturally grow in skill and confidence – which is always an incentive to return for more.
There’s something really freeing too about seeing the body through an artistic lens, particularly to those of us who don’t adhere to the rigid ideals of society, especially those enforced upon women, people of colour, plus-sized people, trans people, disabled people, and gender non-conforming people. Drawing bodies can help transform our relationship with our own. It can help us to loosen rigid standards we’ve inadvertently internalised, through approaching the body as art itself – in art, there is no one idealised template for beauty.
Life drawing may not be a cure all for body hang-ups, and it doesn’t completely dissolve the structures of power in wider society that govern whose body is “acceptable”. What it can do, however, is encourage a space for bodies to exist beyond the realms of consumption and control which mediate our everyday lives. This is especially so when life models reflect the diversity of bodies that exist in the world.
It can encourage creativity and play, and help us to sketch out new ways of feeling and being embodied within ourselves, subtly transforming the ways we take up space in our day-to-day lives.
Perhaps most importantly: life drawing sessions at All the Young Nudes are a lot of fun: Booze! Good tunes! Art!
So whether you’re looking to get some drawing practice in, wanting to enhance your general wellbeing and engage with your creativity, or perhaps simply looking for something a bit different to do with your Monday night, I’d very much recommend checking out All the Young Nudes.