Ms. Pissarro did not mention her family history during the class, but she did go through an array of exercises. At one stage, participants meditated to get in touch with their imagination. At another, they drew with their left hand to try and get more familiar with the hand motions of drawing. “We don’t even write anymore, so this movement is foreign to us. We need to practice,” the teacher said. She equated being good at art to having a six-pack: In other words, you (usually) have to do the situps.
Throughout the class, two nude models, each paid $200, struck poses for lengths of time varying from 45-seconds to 16 minutes.
One of them, Diana Papanova, 36, a construction project manager who lives in Sutton Place, had come out of “retirement” for this specific class. “I used to be a model in my 20s to make money. I would smoke a joint and take a nap standing up,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t want to do it again until I saw Lyora’s class on Instagram.”
Ms. Pissarro, who finds her models on Instagram, said she’s been overwhelmed with requests from people who want to try it. “They are all like, ‘I want this experience of being nude in front of all these people. I want to know what it feels like,’” she said. “It kind of makes me want to do it one day, except I don’t know how I would do it while teaching the class.”
Perhaps because she was taught by her own mother (who was taught by her grandfather, who was taught by his father), by the end of the class, when everyone was a little tipsy, Ms. Pissarro went into parental mode, making everyone hold up their drawings for the class to see.
“Please take your drawings with you when you go home,” she pleaded. “If you don’t, I’m going to have a hard time throwing them away, and I will probably keep them forever.”