This one’s long (that’s what she said), but there’s a good bit of sex, so…
Also, this is part one. It would really help me (and be fun) if you comment and suggest where the story goes from here.
Also, also, the Dr Scarpelli and his book referenced here also appear in two other series, “The Hedges” and “Out Of The Dark Wood”.
Art School (Confidentially)
Life Drawing 101
“Did you get the classes you wanted?” asked Aimee, her hand on Phoenix’s forearm at the sun-dappled picnic table in the quad. He noticed the rough, blue-gray grain of the sun-worn table top and the girl’s warm, pink skin. The colors were complementary.
“Yeah, but,…well, yeah,” he said, sheepishly, looking down at his diminutive, blonde friend from his 6’7″ height. Aimee wasn’t a ‘girl’ friend, unfortunately. He’d known her since she moved to Evansville in junior year of high school and he’d definitely had a few nocturnal emissions instigated by dreams of her, since she was such a perky pixie, but he’d never had the nerve to make any moves. He was ‘awkward around girls’. And besides when he’d left for Montana in June she’d had a boyfriend, Ben, who he knew a little from senior Trig. He hated that class.
Aimee looked puzzled, “Something didn’t work out? I got all mine, except Biology. Doesn’t suck too bad. I’ll get it next semester.”
“You know I’m here at the college ’cause my mother’s an instructor, right?”
“It makes sense to save the tuition and R and B, Phoenix. My parents didn’t want to send me out of town, so I’m living at home, too. I’m glad you’re here.” The friendly look in Aimee’s blue eyes just made him weak. He felt he was such a moose-shaped boy; tall, ectomorphic and gangly. Wet dreams were one thing – the actual girl was another.
“This school’s so small it looks like I’ll have to take Life Drawing 101 with Professor Smith,” he gave a wry smirk and a shrug.
“Your mom, Professor Willa Smith?” said Aimee, smiling. “I won’t tell anybody if you won’t.”
“You’re in that class, too?”
“I needed an arts elective,” she looked up at him hopefully, “figured you’d take it, too.”
Dang, he thought. He’d been both eager and nervous about Life Drawing. He wanted a legitimate way to see naked women and now both his mom and Aimee’d be there to look over his shoulder. He felt a little pervy. Not that he hadn’t seen naked models posing in his mom’s studio occasionally, though he technically wasn’t allowed to – it happened, but that was different because it was more private, he supposed. Also, it wasn’t nine hours a week. He really wanted permission to look at live nude women for nine hours a week.
“Well, it’s a requirement for me, so I’ve gotta do it.” He stood and gathered the supplies he’d picked up at the bookstore. “I guess I’ll go home and organize my kit.”
Aimee’s hand dragged down his arm as he rose and she looked disappointed, “Oh, OK, Phoenix. I’ll see you Wednesday in the studio, then.” He felt her eyes watch him lope away and he nearly tripped over himself in his haste to be alone. At home he could escape to his room, an introvert’s sanctuary.
Home was a converted barn three miles from campus. What started as a commune called Five Oaks had become a weird kind of suburban co-housing neighborhood full of oddball houses as Evansville expanded around the old farm and the hippies were inevitably reabsorbed into the economy. His mom had been one of the children of the original founders, now all nearly passed or in memory care facilities somewhere. Phoenix’s gram didn’t remember those heady, revolutionary days or even his mom, and grandad had died when he was six. He saw his dad’s family most summers working on his construction crew in Montana, but not much in between, except by phone. So he and mom lived in what was essentially a large, drafty artist’s studio with a small home tucked into one end.
Phoenix leaned his bike on the porch and climbed to his bedroom, one of two up in the loft under the dutch roof, separated by a full bath. He dropped his supplies on the desk, slipped off his shoes and socks, stripped out of his t-shirt and flopped on the bed in just his jeans. It was his best daily private time and Phoenix took advantage most days to masturbate before his mom got home. But today his thoughts wandered.
He wondered how life would change now that he was a legal adult, a college student and beginning what he hoped was an art career. Mom had painted all her life and he’d trained at her side in this barn-studio so he was off to a good start. She sold most of her paintings, fantastical things that were kind of a feminist mash up of Hieronymous Bosch and Lewis Caroll. He was always the kid in class who could draw so he was used to sending his own work out into the world, too.
He lay there looking at a painting she’d done of him when he was ten as a study for one of her pieces. His long, curly auburn hair and pale, stick-figure body would become a praying mantis in the finished painting. travesti gaziantep Just a curious creature in the background of what it was really about. He was in a lot of them, though not in recent years. A bunch of models had passed through the studio; women, men, children, all populating her imaginary worlds. So it wasn’t that he hadn’t seen the odd naked person posing. He thought again of Aimee painting a nude model with him and his heart sped up, his throat got dry. Somehow he felt exposed himself.
For a while, his mother had insisted he call her Willa, but that didn’t stick. She was mom to him, however weird she was. Raised by hippies and with serious ADHD, outside of her work at the college she flitted from project to project, from lover to lover and did an uneven job of raising her lanky introvert boy. She was wicked smart, read six books at once, insisted he read them, too, sometimes made dinner. Phoenix learned early to take care of things that needed structure, like meals, laundry, getting to school, while his mom, like a bee, pollinated the canvases ranked around them. He loved her, knew she loved him. Her intentions were always good even if her execution was sloppy.
In the commune she’d had him when she was nineteen and he’d been raised by a village of close friends and neighbors, all believing in the communitarian nature of society. They still did a community pot-luck on Saturday nights on the big lawn. He got what he needed one way or another.
Dad was a whole other animal, so summers were radically different once he started travelling to his place to work. Massive, driven, rigid, sarcastic and tough on him, his dad had given Phoenix another set of skills, but bruised the sensitive soul inside a little. The work crew was constantly ragging him about being quiet, tried to get him drunk or laid. People expected someone who had to duck through doorways to be an alpha male, and while his libido churned out fantasies of any number of women screaming to orgasm on his mighty pole, he carried his oversized body cautiously. He didn’t engage in competition, was more of a mediator in conflicts. Phoenix gamely talked about the work gang’s teams, but he hadn’t inherited the sports-loving gene. If anyone called him a ‘gentle giant’ one more time he’d smoosh them. Not really.
He and his dad didn’t connect over much. So Phoenix got a tan, some muscles and an inferiority complex in Montana. His dad loved him, too, of course, he knew. His parents both engaged life fully, just in vastly different ways.
As had been happening increasingly, he wondered if, being a legal adult and a college student, he ought to, for god’s sake!, get up the courage to ask Aimee on a date. He knew he was blooming late. But anyway there was the boyfriend, so…
“Phee!” called his mother. He heard the screen door slam and keys jangling onto the counter. He’d given up begging his mother to hang them on a hook so she wouldn’t be running around trying to find them twice a week.
He got up and out into the loft, yelled down, “Up here!”
“Where’s the mail? I’m expecting a check from the gallery.”
“In the box where it always is…” He went down shirtless and she, only as tall as his solar plexus, gave him a quick hug, bracelets chiming, skirt billowing, darting to the counter, hair a tangled mess.
“Good! Good! Deposit this tomorrow, will ya’?” handing him the envelope. Phoenix pulled out his phone and in a few taps and clicks had done that. He noticed her watching him with her artist’s eye.
“Carpentry’s done you good, Phee. Filled you out a little,” her head cocked to one side, eyes squinted to read the values of his figure. The compliment warmed him, brought a blush. He put the check in the file, shook his head, thought about what leftovers were in the fridge to heat up.
The kitchen sort of dissolved into the larger space with art supplies, half-finished paintings, bric-a-brac, books and dust everywhere. Affectionately, he observed her moving lightly around the big studio. She swept into it, an elfin woman still, her cloud of hair auburn like his. The rings on her toes shone from her bare feet. His mom dropped her shawl in the overstuffed studio chair and, putting hands on narrow waist, appraised a large canvas. He knew not to disturb her. Suddenly with a couple of strokes of charcoal she lined in a new female figure beside the other man and woman already there.
Later, he brought her dinner, as she would likely spend the evening in one of her worlds. Over the meal he convinced her of the sense in pretending they weren’t mother and son for the class, explained the embarrassment, how he wanted to be judged on his own merits. It shouldn’t be too hard with the last name of Smith.
On Wednesday just before one he opened the door to the college studio to find another five students, including Aimee, sitting around or tentatively setting up easels, spreading out supplies. It smelled gaziantep travesti like home. No Professor Willa Smith.
“Hi, Phoenix!” chirped his not ‘girl’-friend, hair tied back in a ponytail. She’d followed instructions and bought an apron, stiff and unmarked. He noticed how it cinched in nicely at her waist over her pink t-shirt and faded jeans.
“Hey,” he said and found a spot in the circle around the room’s modeling platform. There was general murmuring in the group. Fortunately, seemed like no others from his local high school in this class, just one other guy, looking arty, like him, the rest girls of all sorts. The others looked like a varied bunch: one short, round Black girl, the unremarkable Asian guy, a middle-eastern-appearing, dark skinned girl and a very tall woman who looked eastern european with dark, deep-set eyes and a horsey face. She looked older than most of them.
Intellectually, he’d learned to see like an artist, finding the beauty in whatever subject presented itself. Or more accurately, as his mom would teach, “finding the essential character of the thing and thereby finding the beauty.” So he didn’t judge girls by their appearance. His lizard brain had other ideas, of course, and was super judgy. Aimee was clearly the most appealing girl in the room.
She came over, looked up, “I’m kinda nervous,” and touched his arm again. “You know I’m not an artist.”
Phoenix was nervous for other reasons, one of which being his mother was late. Not unusual, but it embarrassed him anyway.
“These are all skills that can be learned. I’m sure you’ll be OK,” he smiled, rubbed his nose.
“Well, we’ll see,” and she reluctantly went to her easel to wait, heels up on the rung of the stool where she sat, chewing her lip. It occured to Phoenix that Aimee and his mom shared a physical type – petite, long haired, slim and button-nosed. Also, very garrulous.
Finally, the door swung open and the instructor blew in, trailing skirts. “Good afternoon, all. Is everyone here?” looking around the room, counting. “OK, let’s get started.”
Phoenix saw a different part of his mother in class; she was more organized, if not entirely. She’d forgotten the actual class roster. And she reviewed the materials list and goals of the class with widely diverging and elliptical asides about seemingly random things. But he was used to that. He’d not read the materials anyway, feeling confident that his experience would make this class easy, boring even.
But then she said, “You’ll all take a turn modeling nude.”
Silence. He was suddenly alert. He glanced at Aimee, who looked serious, but not surprised.
“Of course, you can opt out, but you’ll miss a valuable lesson. You really should know how your subjects experience a sitting,” the prof surveyed the room, not taking particular notice of him.
He blushed, twitched, darted his eyes around the room, taking in the various reactions of his classmates and his mom, who stood, hands on hips expectantly. “Each of you will model for an hour. I think we’ll do two per class session, so the next two sessions, Friday and Monday, to give all six of you a chance. All in? OK, then.”
Phoenix couldn’t be the only one to back out. He supposed anyone not willing to pose nude hadn’t signed up. He couldn’t admit he hadn’t read the materials, not to his mother. Oh, vanity.
“There are several essential, non-negotiable rules to professional nude modeling,” she began, “One is absolutely no sexualizing of the model. That is, no talking about body parts, no eye contact, no touching. The model will be robed at all times when not in position. The model will determine if a requested pose is doable. Absolutely no photography. Turn off your phones.”
“And no relationships outside of class.” She looked severe, very serious about this one.
Everyone seemed appropriately sober, though there were some nervous murmurs around the room. He stole a peek at Aimee. She was looking at him, too, shyly. Obviously, she’d read the materials. Was that why she took the class? Did she want to see him naked? Maybe she fantasized about him, too. But, the boyfriend… Did the relationship thing apply to the students or just the regular model he assumed would appear at some point after Monday?
“We’ll be going alphabetically…” a couple of groans from classmates, “but to give you an example and some idea of what’s expected, I’ll go first.” She excused herself to change into a robe in the bathroom in the hall.
Aimee’s eyes were wide when he looked at her. He felt his eyebrows claw their way to his hairline. Thank God she was the only one who knew the prof was his mother. Not that he hadn’t caught a glimpse of Willa naked or nearly so at the barn. She was liberated, if not a libertine, after all, but those were just a passing butt or sideboob after a shower. There was the roof deck where she did some nude sunbathing, but even if he could climb a tree nearby gaziantep travestileri he wouldn’t dare spy on her. His own introversion made him keenly empathetic about privacy.
Still, she was a hugger and from a young age he’d been comforted by being wrapped in her arms, pressed into her peasant blouses, under which she rarely wore a bra. He had a sense of her body, but mediated by loose and abundant clothing. It was a comfort, not a turn on.
But his professional artist/professor mom was the one stepping up onto the platform. This is just business, it’s Art, he supposed.
“For a warm up, we’ll be doing gestures. I’ll hold a pose for about five minutes and you’ll try to get a quick sketch of my posture, my proportions, some idea of positive and negative space, maybe some shading for values. Don’t attempt any details. And no erasing, there’s no time for that. Just draw over whatever you’ve got.” She untied the sash and Phoenix couldn’t keep his eyes still. He either looked at her or at the floor, turning tomato red. He remembered a favorite Herbert quote from Dune, “It is by my will alone I set my mind in motion.” He would force himself to look at his mother’s nudity.
“Don’t worry about how good or bad your drawing is. I need to know where we’re each starting from.” And she matter-of-factly peeled the robe, revealing bronzed skin, smooth on a slight body. Folding the robe, she lay it on the floor, bending, full breasts hanging and swaying, sending an electric jolt to his groin despite his effort at artistic detachment. Maybe any sexy, naked woman would do that. Probably.
He was lucky, kind of. Her first gesture had her back to him, round little brown butt canted over a bent knee, arms raised to her hair. He just stared. His eyes traced the ess of her spine and caught at the dimples above her derriere. The studio lighting made a dark shadow between her legs. He’d learned to look for the colors in shadows. Learned that from her! A shadow isn’t just a darkness, it’s a hollow. And on human skin there are shades of violet and ocher and green and blue in there if you look closely and long enough.
Suddenly she moved and he realized he hadn’t put pencil to paper. This time she turned 90 degrees and put her near hand on a hip, the other extended forward, her feet placed as if striding. Phoenix stared at his mother’s upturned nipples, capping hand-sized breasts. His fingers tingled. Taking his pencil he began to trace the line from her near shoulder in and then down along the swell of her breast, finding the tip of that nipple, then the gentle, full curve underneath to the little crease at her ribcage. Down from there to the round of her belly and a slant back to the cloud of fuzz where her pubes softened her. His hand shook a little – the line was imperfect.
The sound of pencils scratching paper filled the room. Some girl grunted in frustration. Phoenix drew the s-curve of her back, from shoulder down to the line that paralleled the lower belly to swell over her ass and swing back in to the thigh. At this angle the far buttcheek just peeked at him, a small crescent of flesh in the light. As he began her legs she moved again, this time facing him.
Phoenix dared not look at her face, hoped her eyes were on the clock anyway. Now she stood full frontal, feet apart, a defiant priestess perhaps, one hand upraised, palm forward, the other bent across her ribs, that hand cradling a breast. A more complex arrangement of light and shadow, line and void, this pose had his attention on technique and he got a little more done this time. The pubes were a thumb-scrubbed blur at her delta. For a few moments she ceased to be his mother and became a collection of shapes and values.
But she moved again, sitting on a stool at three-quarters angled from his eye line. Leaning back, her hands gripped the edge of the stool behind her and her chin pointed at the ceiling. One foot hooked on the rung and the other flat on the floor, her sex was exposed, almost in his sight under the cloud of auburn pubic hair. She didn’t trim it much, he noticed. Those grapefruit breasts lay soft and wider on her ribcage, on offer to the light it seemed. The painter in him thought about the color of her wide areolas, deep carmine and brown with a touch of yellow ochre in the highlights. The lizard in him thought of pinching one of them in his teeth and diddling his tongue across the engorged nipple. Both nipples were vibrantly erect, he noticed. A thickness grew in his jeans and he was thankful for his apron.
Phoenix had to look away, take some deep breaths. Was the other guy in the class seeing the naked woman before them the same way he did? Probably. He wanted suddenly to punch him. She was his woman! He imagined standing over her prone and helpless body, waving a bloody ax, driving off a horde of heathen berserkers like in a Frazetta illustration. He looked up and she’d moved again, and again his paper was blank.
This time she curled on the floor and he had a view of her back once more, the bumpy spine, the rising flare of her sharp hip, the merest wisp of pubes between her thighs. He forced himself to see the pile of shapes and shadows, not his mother, and he actually got nearly a complete tracing of her figure on this one. But his t-shirt was sweaty and his boxers were a little sticky, his heart rate elevated.