A GROUP of artists in Alloa are hoping to shatter the stigmas around life drawing.

Also known as figure drawing, it is the study of the human body and its various shapes and postures from the observation of a live model, who is usually naked.

While some might find a group of people putting on canvas an exposed body to be awkward, improper, or even obscene, artists who gathered at Marcelle House in Alloa insist there is a big difference between sex and nudity.

And to challenge the pre-conceived ideas, artist Karen Strang along with photographer and all-round media man Dave Hunt are planning to shoot a short documentary on the subject.

Dave, who also models bare-skinned and worked in the TV industry for 30 years, feels most people would expect the sitter is the most uncomfortable in the room, but he insists it is quite the opposite.

He said that once you accept being naked is not just to do with sex, there is nothing to hold back.

May Queen Macleod, who is preparing to launch book titled Maybe and Maybe not – It's All About You with illustrations by Karen, often works with the artist as a model.

In her writing May, a retired public health nurse, explores themes around child protection and domestic violence with a hint of eroticism.

Speaking about her modelling, she said: "I feel it's a professional role, I'm a professional artist and a professional model.

"The important thing for me is that it's liberating, it's a profession, the etiquette and ground rules all above board. I may sit there naked, posing, but the minute I stop posing I put my gown on – I don't wonder about naked."

May explained that posing can be uncomfortable and added: "I have sat for two hours at the longest and at the end of it I wasn't able to get out of the pose because of the pins and needles, but a good model doesn't move.

"You have to get over itches – on Wednesday a fly kept landing on me and it kept landing on Karen. It was driving us crazy, but you never come out of the pose. It's a discipline."

May, who is in her 60s, added: "It doesn't matter what size, age or shape you are. If you are going to do it, you need the confidence to do it.

"No artist would ever remark on the fact that you were older or fatter or anything – it's important.

"They are not looking for beautiful models, they are looking for character, real people."

While she said it's secondary, the prospect of being immortalised on the canvas is also an attractive factor.

Suzanne Williams, also an artist residing at Marcelle House, added: "I think when the model walks through they've already made a decision, they don't care who is in the room.

"But the person drawing the model has to make themselves comfortable with the nudity and the pose because they need to get something out of it."

From an artistic point of view, and certainly for students, getting life drawing right is one of the most challenging exercises.

However, once the technical skills are in place, there is always scope to turn the canvas into an expressive space, with Dave explaining Karen often chats with models to let their character influence the proceedings.