Center Of All Eyes

I woke one day and decided to be the artist’s model at the local art school instead of being one of the painters/sculptors as I usually am. Most artist’s models always looked a little spacey to me and uncomfortable, even unhappy to be the one standing nude in front of students. What I had not counted on was that the poses I was asked to hold would be more than my small body could bear. By the end of each short session, my body ached, and I was happy enough to step down from the dias and stretch. While I was posing, I had to keep very still and focus on something with my eyes to keep steady.What I focused on was not the other six students, (a wide variety of ages, but none under twenty-one), but a small window in the far upper wall of the room directly across from my gaze. As I stared at the shape of the window it became clear to me that it looked more and more like a cross with double horizontal bars. It was a cross that reminded me of ads as a child for lung cancer and finding a cure. I thought that was very odd. The room was painted very white in stark contrast to the black of the panes of glass. It was a still winter evening outdoors. An evening shortly before I would be served divorce papers that would change my life forever. I could see the reflection in the dark windowpanes of a set of florescent lights strung across the ceiling. A heater make a quiet ticking sound as the students worked quickly on their sketches and then moved into their mediums of either oil crayons or paint.

It was a very solemn group. No one talked or smiled. During the short breaks, I had an opportunity to walk around the room and look at their works in progress. It seemed to me this was more of a beginner’s group because no one was drawing me as they saw me, but as they were picturing me in their mind’s eye. One woman drew me inside a tiny box in only the upper right hand corner of the huge canvass with big red eyes and flaming black hair. I thought it was a really interesting interpretation, but if you looked at the canvas alone, I could not be found there.

The instructor was very quiet. I found that unnerving but not unusual. Outwardly, I found him pleasant enough yet intense in his thoughts. I liked how he could find the pose he wanted quickly. It didn’t hurt that he was quite handsome.

I found myself wanting to laugh just to stop the serious looks on the faces of the students, but I behaved. I wondered what had brought each of them to the class. I began making up stories of their backgrounds after looking at their paintings. It kept my mind occupied as I stood trying to keep my body still. My body did not want to obey me. I began to quiver. I was sure the instructor would ask for his money back. Who would want to pay me to pose? Me, only an amateur. After the class was over, I slipped back into my one piece dress and spoke to the instructor about payment.

No, I did not want any money. I wanted my portion donated to a needy student at the school. I asked if he would let the director know and left.

Little did I know the man I was married to was livid about my choice in posing at the art school. He did not understand that art and writing were not frou frou activities for me, but as essential as breathing. I was now beyond reprehensible in his eyes, and I no longer cared.

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