Artist takes up 'big naked painting challenge'

Jenny Eclair looking at Luke in position

Jenny Eclair presenter of The Big Naked Painting Challenge looking at model Luke in position - Credit: MultiStory/Channel 4

Muswell Hill artist Ros Freeborn is taking part in a TV challenge to paint nudes.

Channel 4's Drawers Off: The Naked Painting Challenge sees five artists capturing life models in front of the cameras. Freeborn's episodes air daily from June 20-24 and see her creating pictures of five different models.

At the end of each session, artists award each other's work points "like an artistic Come Dine With Me," with the best going into the gallery, eligible to be judged the ultimate winner.

"It was such fun to do," says Freeborn, who works in paper collage. "It's presented by Jenny Eclair who is an artist herself and has been a life model. The artists bonded quickly and became very fond of each other.

Ros Freeborn in Drawers Off: The Big Naked Painting Challenge on Channel 4

Ros Freeborn in Drawers Off: The Big Naked Painting Challenge on Channel 4 - Credit: Courtesy of Channel 4

"It was brilliant to spend serious time making art despite having cameras peering over your shoulder all the time - it was as relaxed as a studio involving many cameras can be. You have 90 minutes to complete the work, so you have to stop being self conscious and focus to get it done."

A member of the Muswell Hill Creatives, Freeborn switched from a PR career five years ago to focus on her art. On Monday evenings she attends a drop in life class upstairs at the Victoria Stakes pub in Muswell Hill and posts the results on Instagram the next day.

"I have always had my business making paper lampshades (papershades.co.uk) but my fine art practice is life drawing at The Moon and Nude class on Monday evenings. They must have seen my page, and got in touch to ask if I would be interested."

Ros creates her nudes by ripping up paper, magazines and wallpaper to get the texture she wants

Ros creates her nudes by ripping up paper, magazines and wallpaper to get the texture she wants - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Freeborn creates her nudes from "piles of paper".

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"I rip my way through magazines and wallpaper to find the textures and colours for what I'm trying to achieve. I will rip very quickly and create an impression of that person. It's great when you capture what is going on internally - sometimes the models come over and say 'you can see what I am thinking.'"

She found the process of watching the evolution of other artist's work "completely fascinating."

"There was a table groaning with art materials and I had tremendous fun daubing away with paint, pastels and inks I wouldn't normally use. I loved the results and it's taken me in a new direction with my own practice."

And she praises the models themselves.

One of Ros Freeborn's nude collages

One of Ros Freeborn's nude collages - Credit: Courtesy of the artist

"Many models are also artists and know how difficult it is drawing the human body. We all think we know what the human form looks like, but you try to get the proportions right and the brain gets in way -  hands and feet are enormous.

"They know to position themselves in dynamic, interesting poses that are good for everyone in the circle, and have a capacity to stay still for forty minutes at a time. I take my hat off to them they are amazing."

She adds: "There's nothing remotely saucy or sexy about a life class. The body is just a shape that's infinitely fascinating to capture."

The Big Naked Painting Challenge is on Channel 4 week nights at 5.30pm. https://www.channel4.com/programmes/drawers-off-the-big-naked-painting-challenge