Modeling for Peter Campbell

By Margaret Hedderman

How long can you sit still? Five minutes? Ten minutes? How does two and half hours sound? Such is the life of a portrait painter's model. When Peter Campbell arrived at Sorrel Sky Gallery, canvases and paint in hand, he asked that Jill and I model for his Portrait Painting Workshop. Sure, why not?

Peter's workshop was the third of our six part series. With five students, it was a full house in the historic upstairs of our downtown Durango gallery. The antique carpet was carefully covered and all paint was kept well away from the historic wallpaper.

My first modeling session was Saturday morning. I knew the basics: sit really still. How hard could it be? During a session, the model holds still for 20 minute intervals, with short breaks in between. Five minutes in and I was already regretting the cute head tilt I had selected for the next two hours.

You might be surprised: modeling for painters isn't boring. Peter kept his students on their toes, flitting about the room making quick comments, adjusting paint color, brush angles, or helping with composition. From the model's perspective, every 20 minute session yielded an evolution of the portrait - sometimes for the good, sometimes for the worse.

As one student said, "I can mess this up in five minutes!"

Over the course of the three day workshop, it was amazing to see the progress that each student made. There's nothing like visual proof of improvement! And, even more important, everyone had fun.

Even the models. Both Jill and I loved the new experience and the exposure to such an educational event.

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