“You don’t have to be good at art to enjoy it!”
Miss Honeypenny is describing Dr Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, the local branch of the worldwide phenomenon started by former artist’s model Molly Crabapple in New York in 2005.
“Molly’s great,” says Miss Honeypenny, who has been involved with Dr Sketchy’s Edinburgh for two years now and producer since August. “It’s her business but she’s happy for anyone to franchise the idea for a minimal amount – as long as they do it justice.”
An artistic blend of life drawing and burlesque, a Dr Sketchy’s anti-art class aims to be creative, fun and with a strong sense of community.
“Burlesque can be seen as cliquey,” says Siân , who has been hosting the Edinburgh events for the past six months. “We want our events to be seen as inclusive: everyone from experienced artists to those who come along because they’re curious.”
“We’re trying to make art fun and interesting again!” says Miss Honeypenny. “We want it to be unimtimidating and create an atmosphere where people aren’t afraid to laugh.”
And with the emphasis firmly on the fun and interesting side, a typical Dr Sketchy’s even is comprised of three ‘acts’.
“We start off with an intro and some quick poses to get everyone limbered up,” says Miss Honeypenny.
“Then the model will usually change costume and strike some longer poses. After a short break, they’ll then pose for a little longer – giving everyone the chance to create something decent.”
The model at an event is always a burlesque or cabaret performer. Siân works hard at bringing the audience and performer together, getting rid of the any barriers between them and making it fun for everyone.
“Most of our performers are great,” she says. “They get it straight away.”
And anyone worried about having to be a burgeoning Picasso needn’t worry either.
“Some people are there to develop their portfolio,” says Siân. “But people of all abilities turn up; and the experienced artists are great at encouraging the others.”
“We’ve even had prizes for the best stick figure!” adds Miss Honeypenny. “Or for the most creative use of colour or best background. And we provide all the materials: pencils, chalk, charcoal – we’ve even used pipe cleaners before!”
“We get all age ranges too, from young art students to mature artists. We have twenty or so regulars and the rest of the artists are new. It’s always busy.”
“Get there early!” says Siân, laughing.
Siân has a background in cabaret and comedy and regularly appears at venues like The Stand and as her burlesque alter ego Mme MyFanwy. Miss Honeypenny is originally from Australia and has been based in Edinburgh since 2004, where she exercises all of her management and admin skills for Dr Sketchy’s. Both are in love with Edinburgh.
“It really is wonderful,” says Miss Honeypenny. “I honestly don’t know exactly what it is I love about it, but the last time I came back here after being away I went all wobbly-kneed as soon as I walked out the station!”
“I get defensive about Edinburgh,” says Siân. “It’s a great sized city and I love the way everything’s within walking distance.”
They also both feel Edinburgh has woken up to the burlesque and cabaret scene, but are worried about the threat of venue closures and cutbacks.
“We’re currently based in the Jazz Bar,” says Miss Honeypenny. “It’s so cool, really wonderful.”
“And we’d love to see the plans for The New Victoria succeed,” says Siân. “There is still money out there.”
Wherever they pitch up with their cheeky chalks and charcoals, Siân and Miss Honeypenny are bringing an artistic touch of flair to the Edinburgh scene with their original and fun-filled events.
They are now resting their pencils over the festive period, but will be returning in February for an artistic and fun Valentine-themed experience.