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  • Writer's picturenotaryodonnell

Breaking Out (a bit)

Was I an artist? I had often wondered.

I had tried painting in the late 1960s but couldn't hack it

In 1995, while practising as a solicitor in Leek, in North Staffordshire, I went to evening classes in life drawing. I still remember the first session. I was nervous. I could little more than sketch the outlines of the model. But the teacher, a young man called Mark Halliday, was encouraging. He said there was 'something there', 'something of interest'. Over the course of the succeeding weeks, my confidence grew. I learned to use light and shade as well as line. I loosened up, even tried painting, in a monochrome wash

But, at the end of the first term, Mark left and his successor, a traditionalist, saw it differently. My confidence drained away.

Then one day, an outing was arranged, to the Frink school of sculpture in Tunstall, Stoke on Trent (and I should be grateful for this). For the first time ever I experienced the joy of working in clay. It was a revelation: clay on the turntable: the model on another; following the profile edges as they turned together just as Rodin would have done. I felt completely at ease: at home. But where to go from there?

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