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Back to the drawing room

Robert Vezina loves to model, he said.

The drawing room, a non-instructed studio session with a model, has featured 67-year-old Vezina for eight months.

“Artists are always looking for opportunities to draw the human form," said Susan Holland, the John M. Parrott Art Gallery's curator.

Although, she said it can be hard to find models.

“It’s a personality. And the gentleman that we’re using, Robert, he's very professional. He knows the poses and he’s very serious about it," she said.

Vezina has been modelling in art classes for 17 years, though he said he never expected to get into the profession.

Prior to modelling, Vezina worked in the media, as a security officer and even at Loblaws.

The modelling started back in Prince Edward Island when an advertisement caught his eye.

"I just saw the sign (that) they wanted a model (for an art class) so I figured I’d try it." Vezina said.

Though he had no prior experience, Vezina said he ended up really enjoying it.

He studied the trade at the Ottawa School of Art, then instructed there and at other post-secondary schools in Canada.

He said he does draped (wearing clothing), nude and in costume modelling.

“It’s maturity. You don’t get personal about yourself. Consider this as a job and doing something for (the artists) that they really like," Vezina said.

When Vezina retired, he moved to Belleville and started modelling at the drawing room and Baxter Art Centre's life drawing studio.

The drawing room happens on the third Thursday of each month in the meeting room on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Holland said artists bring their own supplies, and a $3 donation is recommended to pay the model.

Vezina comes into a session with props and a few sets of clothing.

“I’m thinking of the artists. Because they see the same pose over and over again, so I try to be a little more creative and do something different," he said.

Vezina starts out doing poses for short amounts of time. After a small coffee break half way through the session, he'll do two poses for 30 minutes.

Vezina said the trick to holding poses is to zone everything out.

“I’m out of mind someplace else."

Balance is also very important, he said.

“If you’re not balanced then forget it. You’ll never hold it."

Vezina said the longest he ever held a pose was an hour and a half at the Ottawa School of Art when his instructor forgot about him. He said luckily it was a simple pose.

Nowadays, he said he can only hold a pose for 30 to 40 minutes, though at Thursday's session he went 45 minutes.

"That one was pretty good until the last five or so minutes: the time (seemed) to stop. I was starting to get some pain up here in the upper thigh," he said afterward.

Despite the cramps he sometimes gets, Vezina keeps coming back.

“I do something a lot of people can’t. I’m just proud of myself I guess."

Holland said the drawing room usually sees anywhere from three to fifteen people per session.

“It’s a great program and I’m really happy at the success (and) that it’s been going on for so long. Because we try different things all the time, and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. But what it says to me is that there’s a good need for life drawing classes in this community and people are very open to them and we hope it just keeps on going for a long time. And we would welcome anybody who would like to just come out and give it a try."

Here's a quick inside look at the drawing room:

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