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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Short Story: The Drawing Of Victoria

This is a short story of mine that was submitted to a writing contest that I did not win, which is the origin of my disgruntledness with Sydney Morning Herald judged writing contests. It is about a Life Art model who berates the artist who draws her, in a line of work where female models are expected to keep silent and still, in order to be gazed at by what is often a male artist. Here it is:

The Drawing of Victoria
By Jacob Martin

Victoria Kenneth was a young lady who worked at an art school. This art school was highly prestigious and was one of the best in the British Isles. Now Victoria was a fussy girl, and she didn’t like her job much, mainly because the only job she could get at the art school was to be a life art model. This complicated things for her, since she hardly imagined her life prospects as being a pretty girl who takes her clothes off and gets gawked at by young men of an artistic mind.

Victoria was reasonably good looking, with a rounded face, brown hair, blue eyes and a nose that didn’t look like a trumpet. For this reason young men did not complain about drawing her in the nude. That is until they discovered her personality.

Today she was due to be drawn by a new student called Geoffrey Adams, 22 years old, wore rounded glasses and had talent for drawings, but he had never drawn an undraped woman in his life. Victoria was a year older than him, and he was stuck with her as his model for the entire year, which had just started. Victoria undressed herself and lay sideways with her front facing Jeff. He got nervous, and sooner or later he noticed that he had an erection from staring at a pretty girl with her knickers off. Unfortunately for him Victoria noticed this, and she started talking to him.

“I am feeling unusually generous today, so rather than decrying you as a chauvinistic pig I will take the bulge in your pants as a compliment to my figure. My name is Victoria, and I’d like to give you a few rules about drawing me. Number One: Never draw me in a fashion that makes my thighs look fat. Number Two: Don’t stare at one part of my body for too long, I don’t like being ogled. Number Three: If you even dare to consider trying anything funny with me just because my clothes are off I will scream, thus alerting the art instructors. They would be very interested to know why you would be touching the model, and you would be slapped with a court order ensuring that you would never do life art again”

Jeff had now found out that Victoria liked to talk to the artists drawing her. He also found out that she liked to berate them too. Poor Jeff was embarrassed and stood staring at Victoria. She offered some encouragement:

“Go on! Draw me! Don’t be shy about it, by the looks of you I’m probably the only naked lady you’ll ever see. Start with my face”

Jeff started drawing her face, and carefully crafted the likeness as if he was filled with the spirit of Raphael himself.

“That’s a good boy” said Victoria. “Just go easy when you draw my eyes”

Jeff drew the pupils flawlessly, and added the eyelashes. He finished the face and moved downwards.

“I know it’s tempting, but don’t stare at my breasts too much, as it unnerves me. Draw my shoulders first”

As Jeff started the shoulders Victoria started talking again. “You better be doing this right, I want a portrait that makes me appear like Venus, but now that I’ve mentioned that, I don’t want a drawing of me that portrays me as the Venus of Willendorf!”

Jeff continued drawing her torso. He accurately drew in her chest, which was not quite as well endowed as a Playboy centerfold girl would be but not small either. Victoria was only slightly on the pudgy side, but still beautiful in her own special way. Her courtesy towards poor Jeff on the other hand was terrible, and she was demanding of him.

“Be a dear and bring me some water! I am thirsty! And an unhappy model is bad for good art to be made!”

Jeff brought Miss Victoria “We are not amused!” Kenneth some water from the studio tap and she drank it down.

“This water is terrible!” cried Victoria, as she adjusted herself slightly on the provided couch.

“Oh Vic, you’re so delightfully cruel to me!” said Jeff, as he gave her some better quality water from his canteen.

Victoria thought about what Jeff said, and she realized that Jeff was smitten for her, despite her constant badgering of the poor chap. But she needed to be sure, in case she was wrong, and an awkward situation arose.

“Have you finished my torso yet? Don’t make me late for my manicure!” she cried, trying to hurry Jeff up. But he was busy doing all the shading and tone that he needed to complete the details. He then finished, and moved on to her legs having filled in the arms.

“Remember! Don’t make my thighs look fat! And don’t misjudge the proportions on my feet!”

Jeff drew in the legs and finished for the day. Victoria put her clothes back on and looked at the end result.

“That’s actually a good likeness! You’re pretty talented!”

“You’re pretty yourself you know. I’ve never drawn nudes before, but at least they gave me the most beautiful of the models to work with”

Victoria was now completely sure Jeff was smitten for her. She replied to him, but spared him her acid tongue for a moment.

“That’s sweet of you to say. And you captured me on paper truthfully. I’ll admit I’m not really slim like the other life art models. The last chap who drew me made me look fat, and I got a bit upset, and smashed his car with a cricket bat…”

“You’re not fat, you’re just well rounded. At least you’re natural looking and curvy, I’ve seen Sarah Borough who works with my friend Tim as a life art model. I could have sworn that girl has anorexia…”

“Sometimes I hear that people don’t like the way I talk to them when they draw me. They think I’m bitchy”

“You’re bitchy in a good way, I like a girl who has wit and uses it well. I don’t mind you talking when I draw you, it’s nice to talk”

Victoria had only heard the remark that she was bitchy in a good way one other time, from her brother back when she was 16 and going through high school. She saw that Jeff was a sweet little nerd who had a promising art career ahead of him, and she was stuck doing work as a life art model to support hers. Victoria wanted to be an artist, but for now she was happy to work with someone who liked her.

“Maybe we could meet up sometime this week” said Jeff, “We could have some coffee and discuss our favorite artists. I like Da Vinci and Rubens”

“Sure I’ll meet you! How about 2:30 on Friday?”

“Sounds great” replied Jeff. He parted with Victoria and went to catch up with his friend Tim, who had just finished his life art class.

“Hey Jeff, which model did you get this year?”

“Victoria Kenneth…”

“You poor poor man. She made you get her water didn’t she? I had her as my model last year, she’s really mean. Victoria said I made her look fat! I can’t help it if she’s a little on the chubby side!”

“She’s really nice if you get to know her”

“Are you nuts? She smashed my car last year! How could you like her?”

“My friend, I think I’m going to marry her someday…”

The End

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