Beacon

O grace abounding, whereby I presumed
. .So deep the eternal light to search and sound
. .That my whole vision was therein consumed!

In that abyss I saw how love held bound
. .Into one volume all the leaves whose flight
. .Is scattered through the universe around;

How substance, accident, and mode unite
. .Fused, so to speak, together, in such wise
. .That this I tell of is one simple light.

Yea, of this complex I believe mine eyes
. .Beheld the universal form – in me,
. .Even as I speak, I feel such joy arise.

– Dante Alighieri, il Paradiso, Canto XXXIII

Wash sketches of me by Eleni Papageorge, created at Spring Studio:

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Models Front and Center

~ Be still my heart ~ Can it be? Is it real? A museum exhibition devoted to artists’ models? Why yes, yes it is! Hallelujah! :happy dance:

The Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian has organized “Artists and Their Models”, a collection of photographs, letters, journals, and drawings exploring the professional experiences and interactions between models and artists over many decades. From the exhibition page, one passage jumped out at me: ” Models are too often given short shrift in art history, their names and stories left unknown unless their fame came by way of scandal.”. How true that is.

Many thanks to Fred Hatt for emailing me this story from NPR and to Andrew for posting it on Twitter. Good work guys! The exhibition is on view until August 27th. Think I’ll be making a trip down to D.C. :-)

And now a snapshot into the current art modeling world that may find its way into “archives” someday. I took this picture at the National Academy, Saturday painting class with Dan Gheno. It was the long break and everyone left the studio for coffee and fresh air. That’s a work-in-progress of me on the canvas, and my modeling partner Raven resting on the platform. He looks comfortable!

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Heaven and Hard Times

So it looks like this summer is going to be worse than last summer, and I didn’t think that was possible. Last summer sucked majorly for a couple of reasons; painful breakup with the boyfriend which still hurts over a year later, slow art modeling, and no vacation. This summer adds a new element of tension and troubles in the form of intra-family strife that only seems to get worse by the day. Isn’t that fantastic? The hits just keep on comin’. Ugh.

Coping mechanisms? Same as always. Hunker down among the good. Jettison the bad. Cling for dear life to that which gratifies and gladdens and edifies. Oh yeah, and blogging. Keep blogging :-) Art and music are two of the best pathways to salvation, I think we can all agree on that. And I’ve got one of each to offer today. A striking linocut print of yours truly by the wonderful Christian Johnson, followed by music for Music Monday. Gospel is a dependable source of solace for me as most of you know. The track is “I’m So Glad (Trouble Don’t Last Always)” by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers.

A belated Happy Father’s Day to my dad readers. Hope you had a great day! I’ll see you all very soon, friends. And Christian … thank you :-)

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Spero Meliora

Discontent is a peculiar thing. You think you can pinpoint its source but you can never really identify it with absolute certainty, no matter how much you turn yourself into knots. Where is it coming from? you ask yourself. My nonexistent romantic life is the problem. That must be it. That’s not it? Then it’s my dwindling bank account. That must be it. You seek to expose the pesky germ that is rousing your troubles. Because if you can just identify it then you can crush it, and everything will return to normal. Or so you believe.

Two nudes in studio, Jan Sluyters:

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I could, for example, point the finger squarely at the business aspect of art modeling and some of the untrustworthy and/or two-faced people who, through their egos and passive aggressive behaviors, make this field far more complicated than it need be. This isn’t brain surgery after all. I could also wonder if I should accept that a callow 20-something millennial has been placed in charge of bookings at a school upon which I depend for my income. And I could further wonder if it’s appropriate for said millennial to say to me, a 40-something model with years of hard work and experience at that school under my belt, that the reason she neglected to call me for work was because, in her exact words – “I don’t who you are, sorry”. Is that rude and hurtful? You bet it is. And I wonder how my journey through art modeling, to which I have devoted body, heart, and soul, has devolved into one insensitive, disrespectful and dismissive remark from the mouth of an art school-coddled child.

Model Sitting, Edward Hopper:

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On the other hand I could point the finger squarely at myself and wonder – in a wrenching exercise of humility – if I have, to some degree, worn out my welcome. In some circles that is, not all. Certainly not at Spring Studio, which is an exception in so many ways. Or I could wonder if I’ve lost the ability to let personal slights simply roll off my back, a skill I used to think I was pretty good at. Are my own insecurities and need for validation distorting my perceptions? Maybe. I don’t know. I wonder if I, as a 45 year old woman in New York City, am due once again for a “bob and weave” in life. Changing and adapting is the crucial key to survival as we all know. If you can’t bob and weave, you better learn.

The Model, Ilya Repin:

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While my love of art and art modeling is intact, my disillusionment with the art community and some of its players has grown exponentially over the past year. But that’s my problem, nobody else’s. Nor can I say for sure that the frustrations of the art modeling business are to blame for the way I’m feeling now. The seeds of discontent are nebulous. They refuse to show their faces and announce themselves. We are dodging an unseen adversary. Well, maybe not an adversary. Maybe – just maybe – the rumblings of discontent are not adversarial at all, but a signaling force agitating with good intention. Maybe it is the spirit of growth trying to tell you something.

Sweet City Stroll

9:45 in the evening. I trot down the steps of the National Academy after posing for Michael Leigh’s watercolor class. Modeling bag slung over my shoulder, lightweight spring scarf knotted around my neck. Off I go, south on Fifth Avenue. One of the most famous streets in the world. It’s quiet. Upper east side quiet. And if you think that “upper east side quiet” doesn’t have a character uniquely its own then you don’t know New York City. Posh residential buildings on one side, Central Park on the other. Starry sky, gentle breeze, street lamps aglow, just a few lone souls here and there, discernible only by their movement in the urban shadows. Why are they out in the street at that time on a weeknight, on the slumbering, proudly and complacently not “happening” upper east side? Well .. I am. Why not them? On that mild spring night, I think about how many times I’ve made that walk. I couldn’t even count how many times. That short walk from 89th to 86th where I catch the crosstown bus.

I pass the Guggenheim, whose chalky white wedge of a daytime presence transforms into a darker, ghostlier, more abstract form when the sun goes down. An ambiguous, eerie grey structure of circular lines and shapes that dance with the night sky. I stare up at it and think how I like the Guggenheim better at night. It’s closed and sleeping, but like all of New York’s cultural institutions, it keeps the lights on in the foyer.

Calm and content from a super pleasant art class with super sweet people, my walk is a saunter. A post-modeling on my way home kind of saunter. The relaxed pace we assume when we take an all-too-familiar route. At that time of night it’s as close to soundless as you’ll ever get in New York. All I hear is the clunking of my boot heels on the sidewalk. And it sounds even more pronounced and echoey in the crisp quiet air. And I am reminded how much I love this city at moments like this. Across Fifth Avenue, in the dark in the park, I see the spinning red reflector of a bicyclist pedaling toward the reservoir. An evening workout. At the next corner, a white-haired man strolls with his senior golden retriever. The dog has a slight limp and the man patiently allows him to take his time, to stop and sniff, to lumber around and investigate those unseen things only dogs are aware of. An aging but pampered pooch. I think then that the dog has probably made that walk on that particular Fifth Avenue corridor even more times than I have.

I pass the apartment buildings. At each illuminated entryway the doorman peers out and glances at me. He realizes he’s seen me before on many a night. He nods. I nod. I go on my way. To 86th Street. And at that intersection emerges the bus. The big blue city beast pulling up to the corner, blocking my view of the Neue Galerie. Gotta catch the bus. I speed up my walking pace just a little while whipping my Metrocard out of my wallet. The bus doors open. “Hi!” I say cheerily. “Evening ma’am”, says the pretty darn handsome bus driver. Doors shut. Left turn, then right turn, and through the park. And the upper east side recedes away. Until next time, when modeling brings me back . . . which won’t be long.

Georgia O’Keeffe, City Night, 1926:

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Model to the Grindstone

Helloooooo!! Greetings friends. I trust you’ve all filed your taxes, completed spring cleaning, and renewed your car inspections since I lasted posted? Because I’ve done all of it! :lol:

Ok, I lied. I haven’t done any of those things. But they’re all in progress. I have a valid excuse for procrastinating, though, which is that I’ve been studio-bound working my heinie off at art modeling. Because it’s what I do. And I am a dreadful time-budgeter. The worst. Also, I had a a brief rant on Twitter the other day in which I vented some frustrations, but it’s passed now thank god. Behold the bitchfest here and here. My fellow art model Andrew heard my grievances loud and clear. Thanks friend.

For some visual proof of my daily grind, this is me posing on Long Island’s north shore. From the expression on my face it looks like I retained some residual “don’t mess with me, I’m a professional model” attitude from last week. Well, it had been a long day and Rob Silverman took this reference photo at the end of the session. It was very nice of him to send me the pic. Rob and I have known each other for years. He’s an excellent teacher. This was the agreed upon pose set-up for painting. They wanted nude with fabric and they got it. Throw in light, shadow, and color, and you’ve got the essentials of studio art. Satin, baby ;-)

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Face Forward

Friends, I am feeling much, much better since the burglary I’m happy to report. All of you who assured me that my sense of security would return in due time? You were right. I wouldn’t say that I’m at 100% – or ever will be – but I’m currently at a good 75%. And I’ll take it! The jittery nerves, the thick knot of anxiety in my chest, the fear and vulnerability and sleepless nights have diminished significantly. So thanks again to all of you for your support and comfort, expressed through blog comments and emails. I really appreciate it :-)

This is a pencil drawing of me by Irene Vitale, which is lovely for its simplicity and loose lines.  Between the burglary (during which she was a great support) and two snowstorm cancellations of scheduled art classes, Irene and I have had a crazy couple of months! Finally, we made it to the Art League of Long Island for class, on a snow-free day, where she taught, I modeled, and all was well.

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Sloshing in the City

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice filthy slush puddle now and then? We New Yorkers are just loving it! It’s still only early February and I think it’s fair to say that this winter has been kicking our asses. But I try to look for the positives in most situations. They can be seen if we pay attention. One is the helpful, “looking out for each other” spirit that many people adopt during adversity. Someone slips and falls and folks are there right away to assist. An unspoken bond can be felt among city dwellers that we’re all in this together and once it’s over we can meet up on the Great Lawn in Central Park, bask in the  warmth of springtime and toss frisbees. In the meantime, let’s give each other a hand through this hardship. We can bitch about salt shortages and snow plows, or we can just buck up and deal with it as best we can.

Other positives include ice-encased tree branches and twigs and icicle formations, which are classically beautiful cold weather images. Also, the upper east side poodles and pomeranians in their little coats provide reasons to smile. Perhaps the most significant positive of winter in New York City is the indefatigable drive to keep everyday life going, business as usual … getting there, it’s all about getting there, slush puddles notwithstanding. Like the authentic New York City place that it is, Spring Studio keeps on going and doesn’t know the meaning of the phrase “snow day”. Instead, every day is a “drawing day”. And through the slippery subway platforms, overhead drippings, and transit delays, the faithful model shows up at the studio. She’s wet, cold, and disheveled, but she shows up :-)

Created at Spring Studio on Monday night, a drawing of me by Robert Sebastiano:

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A Maestro’s Requiem

If there was ever a Monday that needed to be salvaged with some music, today is the one. I feel totally exhausted from a long day of modeling at the National Academy, which was then compounded by an aggravating evening commute home. Tomorrow I get to do it all over again. So as I rest my weary body, tired feet, and get some red wine into me, I’m more than happy to post the first Music Monday of 2014.

Last week,  the classical music world lost a giant. Claudio Abbado, legendary conductor of La Scala, died at his home in Bologna, Italy at the age of 80. Coincidentally, today also happens to be Mozart’s birthday, so our video is of Abbado conducting Mozart’s “Requiem” with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Bavarian and Swedish Radio Choirs. It’s one of the finest renditions I’ve heard. Check out the link above for the maestro’s obituary in the NY Times. His achievements in music are tremendous. And I would add that another great thing  about the man is that his name was Claudio, because we all know that variations of the name “Claud” belong to the coolest people :cool:

Until next time, friends … your tired muse, Claudia.

Acknowledgment

The last few days have seen my 2014 planner become officially christened. It’s now broken in with my goofy scribblings, underlines, notes, cross-outs, times, names, all the personal hieroglyphics that make my mess of book my own hideous creation. “Port” means “portrait”, “anat” means “anatomy”, and why I won’t make the effort to finish off those words with just a few more letters I have no idea. Maybe I was a stenographer in a previous life. There are also a few racy doodles in the margins but we won’t get into that :lol:

Anyway, I’ve been joyfully fielding phone calls and emails bearing work for the spring semester. (“Spring” semester … doesn’t that sound nice in the midst of this winter cold blast? Ah yes.) And as I’m on the verge of starting the new sessions full blast, I am inspired to acknowledge the model coordinators and bookers who keep me working regularly thanks to their conscientiousness and professionalism. They call, they return calls, they honor both teachers’ requests and models’ availability, they straighten out mix-ups, give referrals, and do what they have to do to keep everyone happy. Our business functions best when model coordinators are on the ball. Last semester I was fortunate to have abundant work and wonderfully positive experiences thanks to the good work of those who book models here in NYC: Katie at the New York Academy of Art, Mark at FIT, Sergio at the National Academy, Minerva and Jordan at Spring Studio, Marilyn at the National Art League, Robert at the Long Island Academy of Fine Art, Randall at Figureworks Gallery, and all the individual artists who contact me for private sessions and groups. I work steadily because of these folks. To all of them, a heartfelt and sincere thank you. I’m ready to drop my robe, so let the spring term begin!

The Artist’s Studio, Jose Malhoa, 1894:

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The 2013 Museworthy Art Show

“Creativity takes courage”
– 
Henri Matisse

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In early October I invited the readers of this blog to participate in a second art show. Our first one took place in 2011. This year, artists were asked to create an original work based on one of four modeling photos of me taken by Fred Hatt. For six years I have been known as “the muse of Museworthy”. With this special blog event, that moniker which I hold dear takes on a truer meaning than ever before. One muse, eighteen artist submissions (myself among them) and a marvelous diversity of styles and interpretations. I want to express my sincere thanks to all those who contributed. It is truly my honor to serve as blogger and muse. From my heart to yours, enjoy this celebration of online community, creative expression, and joyful participation.

Claudia  xoxo

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Todd Fife

pencil on paper

Bowling Green, Kentucky

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David Rockwell

oil and acrylic on canvas

New York City

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William MacDonald

graphite

Quincy, Massachusetts

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Colin Buckett

pencil and oil pastel

Ottawa, Canada

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Elaine Hajian

pastel on paper

New York City

MomPastel

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Mark Wummer

pencil and watercolor on paper

Southeastern Pennsylvania

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Bruce Williams

relief, plasticine clay

New York City

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Grier Horner

Apple Aperture

Pittsfield, Massachusetts

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Rob Carroll

charcoal on paper

Swindon, UK

Claudia --- November '13

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Derek James Tewey

oil, acrylic, mixed media

Brisbane, Australia

Claudia -Body and Soul

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Christopher Hickey

linocut

Atlanta, Georgia

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Fred Hatt

aquarelle crayon on paper

Brooklyn, NY

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Dave Moran

pencil on paper

Ann Arbor, Michigan

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 Peter Howard

acrylic on board

Surrey, England

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Richard Rothman

Sketchbook Mobile

Rising Fawn, Georgia

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Daniel Maidman

oil on canvas

Brooklyn, NY

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Ed Ettlin

pencil, crayon, watercolor, white ink on brown paper

Lucerne, Switzerland

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Claudia Hajian

paper collage, mixed media, ink stamp

New York City

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Walk to the Rock

The expression “walk if off” has special meaning for art models. Most of us will tell you that the best and quickest way to recover from pose discomfort is not stretching or resting, but walking. To bring back circulation, alleviate muscle strain, and combat fatigue, nothing beats plain old walking. Today, after a morning modeling job at the Century Club, a private, exclusive club in midtown Manhattan, I needed a good walk to get my sore hip flexor back to normal. With the rest of the day off, I had plenty of time to take a leisurely stroll a few blocks north, cold weather be dammed. Bundled up in my scarf, hat, warm winter coat, with my modeling bag slung over my shoulder, the walk was – this avowed “summer person” admits – quite invigorating in both body and spirit.

After a stop for a delicious hot herbal tea, I made my way to Rockefeller Center, the polestar of NYC tourist attractions during the Christmas season. I took a few pictures to share. Here’s the big Rock Center tree with silver flags blowing in front:

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The golden Prometheus watches over the ice skaters:

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Toy soldier blowing his horn:

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Angels on the promenade:

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I leave you all with these scenes of my twinkling, shimmering, frosty and festive holiday city. Meet you right back here on Sunday for the Museworthy Art Show :-)

Sketches, Update, and a Workshop

Greetings friends! Here at home on this Friday day off and I’m doing model preparation for a weekend-long portrait workshop taught by the esteemed Max Ginsburg. What is involved in preparing for a portrait workshop you ask? Not much really except for an exfoliating facial treatment and hair-trimming, all self-imposed I might add. I’ve got my scrub and scissors ready! Must look lovely for Max :-)

Now just a reminder that the deadline for Museworthy Art Show submissions – December 8th – is rapidly approaching. A few have sent their pieces already, but I know many of you are still in the planning/creating stage and have yet to submit. That’s fine of course. I trashed the first one I did and am starting anew. I’d also like to assure any readers out there who may still be ambivalent about participating that your contribution is absolutely, positively welcome! Please know that. This is an event for all of us to enjoy. So if you’re still hesitant for any reason, view the image choices again and go for it! I am your humble model at your service.

I’ll leave you all with some quick warm-up sketches of me created by the photographer behind those splendid Art Show selections, my good friend Fred Hatt. From a session at Figureworks Gallery, Fred does what he always does so well, which is capture in just a few loose lines the movement of my crouches, contortions, stretches, and twists – all the spontaneous gestures we models strike when we have to change poses on the minute.

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Midweek Mood Share

Well hello dah-lings! Shall I say Happy Hump Day? :lol: Autumn, and the “fall back” time change is upon us. Shorter days, cooler temperatures, leaves on the ground crunching under our feet, birds feasting on berries. Except for the shorter days part I usually enjoy this seasonal transition. Not so much this time around, as memories have come back to taunt me. Me and the man I loved would have been together over a year this month, that is if he hadn’t completely given up on us. Plans went unfulfilled, promises were not kept, and communication broke down. Even though we split up almost six months ago, a fresh wave of sadness and loneliness has come over me lately, and a surge of vivid reminiscences and special moments from the past have invaded my thoughts. And with those thoughts comes heartache. Just when it seemed like I had finally broken through to the healthy, confident “I’m over it” stage. Guess I’m not fully over it after all. Feelings of hurt and abandonment are hard to shake. Well, for me they are :-(

But sources of precious salvation are available to me, thank God. They are alive and well in the old reliables in my life; the people who love and care about me, and art. Modeling has been going great, which is awesome. And Mom and I are taking a little mother-daughter drive down to Brandywine, Pennsylvania on Friday. Both of us have wanted to visit the museum and take a tour of Andrew Wyeth’s studio. We finally found an opening in our schedules to go. After a hectic couple of months of working it will feel so nice to get out the city, if only for a brief time. I’m bringing my camera and will hopefully take some good pictures.

Before I leave you all, here’s a great example of the lifeline that art modeling provides during these periods when I hit roadblocks. A painting of me by the fabulous Mark Tennant. His other works of me appeared in this Museworthy post from February. I love this. Thank you, Mark :-)

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Be well, friends. I’ll see you when I get back from Brandywine. Hopefully I will have shaken off this moody muck by then.

Let’s Have An Art Show!

Here we go friends! I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the submission details for the Museworthy Art Show. After careful consideration I’ve finally decided on the image choices and the dates. Unlike the last Art Show, this year folks will create a brand new work for submission rather than sending a piece already made. Thus I’ve allowed for a little more time. Heck I need time to create mine! My modeling schedule is solidly full for October and much of November. So here are the specifics: The Art Show itself will be published on the blog on Sunday December 15th. It will remain as the top post for well over a week until Christmas, that way we can enjoy it for many days and I can have a little blogging break for the holidays. Submissions should be sent no later than December 8th if that’s okay with everyone.

I have set up a separate page of the image choices of yours truly, your faithful muse: three figure options and a portrait, plus a few words if anyone would like to do the calligram method as suggested by a reader. You can also find the page in the left sidebar under “Pages” for easy access. After you’ve selected and downloaded your image feel free to do with it what you will in your own applications – make light or color adjustments, etc. Whatever helps you create your piece. All media are acceptable! Paint, pencil, pen, watercolor, charcoal, mixed media, pastel, marker, crayon, you name it. And of course, all skill levels are welcome, in fact encouraged! This is an inspired joyous Museworthy celebration, not a contest :-)

Email your works to me at claudielh@aol.com. Make sure you put “Museworthy Art” in the subject line, and include your full name, location, medium, and link to your website/blog if you have one. If you have any questions or issues please don’t hesitate to contact me and let me know. I want everyone to be satisfied. What’s most important is that we all have fun!