By Doug Hodge
When I was here, in New York, two years ago doing La Cage aux Folles, I was drawn to doodling to pass the time; it’s always been a hobby and I tend to draw people on the subway or doing some other activity. When you do eight shows a week you need to have something to distract you; to keep your mind occupied.
I had spoken to various people about places where I could sketch. And they all suggested a place in midtown west called The Art Students League of New York. I decided to check it out and there were all these strange and wonderful people, skinny models and exotic artists.
I registered and on my first day there was an older gentleman, maybe 80 years old, and 10 or 11 other people were sitting quietly, drawing him. I jumped right in and drew him for three hours; nobody spoke, no teacher came and told me I was doing something wrong or you are doing right; no one came and looked at my drawings. The guy did various posses and it was all very exciting.
I went every Friday and each time there would be a different model. Sometimes there would be a beautiful young woman and sometimes there would be a fit man; all kinds of different people who would stand in various poses. There were also many ethnicities represented.
By the end of the year I had hundreds of drawings. At the end of the session with a particular model, you thought you knew the person although none of the artists ever spoke to them. The funny thing is I never spoke to anyone else in the class; I never learned anyone’s name - I just got absolutely lost in drawing the models.
At about 6pm, I would be done drawing and I’d would walk down Broadway, get something to eat at a diner and then go and do la Cage. It was the most wonderful escape and I’m so happy that I found my own oasis in Manhattan. •