Saturday, February 16, 2013

Nude Nite

On Valentines Day, I got to the opening of Nude Nite Orlando at about 10PM, which was a late night out for me. It had been raining all day and it was still drizzling. The event was held at an abandoned warehouse at 639 W. Church St. Orlando, FL. This is several blocks west of the Amway Center in Parramore. Gentrification has pushed its way west but several blocks still had rundown tin roof houses and abandoned properties. I decided it hadn't been a good idea to park downtown and walk west to the warehouse.

I knew I had arrived when I heard loud music and saw light shining out of cracks in the warehouse foundation. A crude sign outlined in rope was nailed to a tree, it read, "Jesus Saves." There wasn't a line to get in. Attendance was surprisingly light. I walked around the perimeter of the warehouse searching for my sketch subject. A nude woman in a gas mask was posing on a pedestal. I considered sketching her but she kept moving in slow motion. She would be a frustrating subject. Wendy Wallenburg and Linda Saracino greeted me. They seemed very excited about a male dancer's performance.

I started blocking in a second sketch of a woman being body painted near a golden tree. My attention as I sketched however was drawn to a woman seated in a U shaped ottoman in the background. I erased my sketch and moved closer to her to sketch. She was regal, poised and still. Periodically she would raise her arms up to imitate the pose in the photo hung in front of her. I liked when she relaxed, looking off in the distance. The green light gave her an odd glow. When she took a break, a group of girls asked me if it was alright to sit in the ottoman. "I don't see why not." was my simple response. They started posing for photos imitating the picture. One girl took her sweater off to pose causing a chorus of giggles and photos.

I heard the performers on the main stage where a crowd of people had gathered. A DJ and his girlfriend introduced themselves. I had just met them at a DRIP Art Night event and I had even sketched the girl as she danced in her polka dot undies. She looked like Halle Berry. Someone else asked me if I was from the Maitland Art Center. Odd question. "I've been to the Art Center, but I can't say they sent me." I replied. He explained that in past years, there had been artists sketching a model at Nude Nite. I was the only artist he saw creating art.  A woman asked if she could leave her drink next to me as she shot photos. I said, "Sure". She commented on how small my palette was. I replied, "It's not how big the palette is, its how you use it." Of all the art I saw, I made a note of two sketches by artist Ray Richardson from Kissimmee. One was of a nude Cinderella and the other of a nude Snow White munching on a candied apple. Both women were overweight, looking like desperate house wives looking for attention.

I was using a new fountain pen. I discovered a major flaw in its design when I tried to twist the cap off to put the pen away. The twisting motion caused the pen to spit out a huge gush of ink onto the sketch. "Mother F*@$er" I muttered. Just then Kelly Stevens the event organizer walked up. She liked the sketch and I let my frustration and annoyance melt away. The spill was actually a blessing, because I started painting with pure thick pigment which is something I should do more often. As I was getting ready to step back out into the rain, I saw Kelly on a stage posing with patterns of light dancing on her outfit. A computer generated image was being mapped and projected onto her as she posed. Someone held up a mirror so she could see herself. She was laughing and having a great time.

You have one last chance to experience Nude Nite tonight from 6PM to midnight. There is plenty of parking near the warehouse.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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