The Return

Aaannnnd . . . we’re back! It’s official. The fall 2013 school years have begun. Yay! Studios are open for business, students are ready to create, models are ready to pose, and instructors are ready to impart their brilliance and expertise ;-)

It felt great to walk into the New York Academy of Art for my first modeling booking there of the new term, John Jacobsmeyer’s printmaking class. The class created ink sketches of my nude figure which they would later make into prints. I’d love to see how they turned out. I may have to find those students and ask if I could take a gander at the final results, as I’m a huge printmaking fan.

Few institutions undergo a transformation as dramatic from first week to end of the year quite like art schools. Summer cleanups are very thorough. New coats of paint brighten things up, supplies are stored neatly away, and everything is scrubbed spotless. When classes begin, the immaculate surroundings transform into smudges, splatters, and spills. Ink, clay, and oil paint start to appear on chairs, stools, and the floor, stacks of rolled up papers and unfinished canvases occupy every corner, fabrics are strewn about, and unidentified sharp objects stick out from various spots. So to models and students alike I say enjoy the tidiness while it lasts, which is about a week!

The New York Academy’s printmaking room, a great space, on day three of the new semester. Not yet sullied from the dirty work of making prints.

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Actually, the Academy is one of the least disorderly art schools I’ve seen. It’s a spacious facility with a conscientious staff and student body. The atmosphere is terrific. Great vibes. The Art Students League, on the other hand, is a cluttered mess . At least it was when I worked there years ago.

Did I mention how good it feels to be back at steady work? Yes, I believe I did. Off we go!

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Breathing Spell

Yoo hoo! Hello? Does anyone run this blog? Anyone??

Hey gang. Really sorry about the stagnancy. I’m here, I assure you. I hope you all had a wonderful week because mine kind of sucked. Stress, tension, and painful frustration stemming from personal matters, life decisions, and shattered expectations. Anyway, I don’t want to elaborate. All I can do is try to make sense of it all and get my mojo back. I miss my mojo :sad:

On the art modeling front, I’ve reached the annual break in my work schedule that comes in late May. School semesters have ended which means students can say goodbye to teachers and classmates, hang their end-of-year art shows, go through final critiques, and look forward to a well-deserved vacation. The schools will close for a bit and regroup for summer sessions which will be up and running in June. What does all this mean for us art models? It means we get a little break for ourselves. With the exception of one gig at a local art center, I have no jobs booked for two weeks. After all these years of modeling I still haven’t gotten used to the sight of so many consecutive blank spaces in my calendar. It’s weird. So much free time dancing before my eyes, what will I do with myself? Haha.

Edward Hopper, Interior (Model Reading), 1925:

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One activity I’d like to do is take a drive up to Woodstock. I haven’t been up that way in quite a while and there’s a farm sanctuary there that I’ve been donating money to for many years. Might be nice to visit and say hello to the animals. And of course, Woodstock is great town in upstate New York with lovely shops and art galleries. There is much to do and see in good old Woodstock.

In the meantime, I’ll be around, being lazy some days and productive on other days. And blogging for sure. So I’ll see you all very soon.

Claudia  xo

Bones, Flesh, and Harmony

Those who participate in typical life drawing classes do not generally obsess about things like the latissimus dorsi (back muscle) or the anterior superior spine (bone in the pelvis). Artistic anatomy classes, which are required in most graduate art programs, involve intensive, meticulous study of the musculature and skeletal structure of the human body. The MFA students at the New York Academy of Art are fortunate to have a superb instructor like Robert Armetta, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with for some time now.

Posing for anatomy is a different experience for the model as well. While students make good use of classroom skeletons and écorché casts for bone and muscle observation, the model is there to exhibit, and sometimes actively demonstrate, those same bones, muscles, and connectors as they appear in a living, breathing life subject. We’re often asked by instructors to flex, twist, rotate, or create resistance so as to emphasize a particular muscle or bony landmark. For the long pose, students will draw on their paper the model as skeleton alongside the full figure. Teachers and students alike benefit greatly when their anatomy model is a seasoned professional, one who is comfortable being pointed at at close range, and who doesn’t cringe when the term “fatty tissue” is uttered during a demo. Fatty tissue???? NOOOOOO!!!!! Just kidding :lol:

Here I am in Robert’s class posing alongside my anatomy buddies - écorché cast on the far left for muscles, skeleton (who lost his head!) in the middle for bones, and the sum total of it all, yours truly, with bones, muscles, skin, a messy hair bun, the whole shebang:

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It was a marvelous experience posing for this class of first year students at the Academy. The focus and dedication they displayed was impressive, and I was honored to be their model over the past several weeks. They’re well on their way. Keep up the good work guys!

Lovely drawing from the class by Chusit Wijarnjoragij:

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Days in the Atelier

Greetings on a Sunday evening! I hope this blog post finds you well. My most substantial art modeling job of the summer has come to an end – five weeks posing for Robert Armetta’s figure drawing atelier at the Long Island Academy of Fine Art. It was a top-notch experience. These intensive classical drawing sessions never cease to amaze me. As the model who sees and hears all, I can’t help but be impressed by the focus and dedication that goes into that kind of painstaking practice. Gosh those people work hard. Almost as hard as the model ;-)

The primary goal is to train the artist’s eye. Shapes and proportions provide the visual keys to representing the form, and the light reveals those forms. The human body is all forms, after all. Forms of muscle mass and underlying bone, creating relationships and contours, some of which are obvious, others more subtle. Artists in the classical tradition believe that drawing is the crucial foundation of painting, for it is through drawing that one’s ability to perceive forms – and mold those forms – is developed.

Robert and I set up a pose that would offer the class enough variations in forms without being too complicated. Then, with some perfectly angled lighting, we had a figure study that pleased the class very much. I found the pose fairly easy to hold. Maintaining my posture was the challenge, and I felt only minor lower back discomfort toward the end of each four hour session. Believe me, I’ve done much worse! Most of the class worked in charcoal, but some used graphite.

Three of the atelier students agreed, enthusiastically, to let me post their works here on Museworthy and I am happy to do so. The problem with drawings such as these is that the delicate qualities and detailed workmanship are less discernible on computer images than they are in real life. I’m sure you artists out there know how difficult pencil drawings are to photograph. They are best appreciated when viewed in person. But it worked out nicely that I have three images of the pose from three different perspectives.

This is Gerry’s drawing. She was working the closest to me, just a few feet away behind me and to the right. Very beautiful:

Smadar had a front view that presented a lot of foreshortening. She certainly handled it well. I love the light on the shoulder and collarbone:

And here is my friend Daniel’s piece. I really love the way he did the shadow shape on the stomach and front of the torso:

It was gratifying to pose for this atelier class and I hope I have the honor of doing it again. This week another group of artists awaits me – a figure painting workshop at the New York Academy of Art, taught by Maggie Rose. It will be my first time working with Maggie so I’m looking forward to that. Just one more week of art modeling duties and then . . .  can I say it? . . .

v a c a t i o n :-)

School Days

So I was just about to get off the computer when a tweet came up in my Twitter timeline. It was posted by the New York Academy of Art, a superb art school where I am honored to work as a model and have mentioned many times on this blog. They’ve shared a terrific video by Life + Times which takes you into the school on a behind the scenes tour led by President David Kratz. It’s really excellent. Thought I’d pass it along here on Museworthy.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! I am on babysitting duty tonight with my niece Olivia. I don’t know exactly what she has planned for us but I’m fairly certain that mayhem will ensue :lol:

Fleur de Lis

Hello friends! Happy Sunday! And what a beautiful Sunday it is here in NYC. I hope this blog post finds you all well.

A few days ago I found a little time in my busy schedule to stop in to the Metropolitan Museum for a quick visit. It was a Saturday, which at the Met means crowds. Major crowds. But no amount of crowds could stop me from seeing and enjoying the newly renovated American Wing Galleries, something I’ve been looking forward to for months. A more extensive blog post will probably be forthcoming. Until then I thought I’d share this one lovely work that is on display in the collection. The artist is Robert Reid, an American Impressionist painter who was born in Stockbridge, Massachusetts and studied in Boston and then New York. As with most American artists of the 20th century, Reid’s bio invariably mentions places where I have also worked as an art model. He studied at the Art Students League and later became a member of the National Academy of Design. By the early part of the century, Reid was focused on mural projects which might explain my attraction to his style. I adore mural painting and large panel works. On my trip to Boston last December, I was in heaven while viewing Sargent’s murals at the Boston Public Library. What I should have done was also visit Reid’s Paul Revere mural at the State House. I think another trip to Boston is in order!

This enchanting painting by Reid is called Fleur de Lis, ca. 1885 – 1900. I think one of the reasons it struck me was the exquisite color (I love purple) and depiction of irises, and the realization that those flowers will soon be blooming with the coming of spring! Can’t wait! I took this photo and decided not to crop out the frame, but it enlarges beautifully with a couple of clicks:

I also recorded the wall text for this piece that might be of interest. From the Met curators, this painting “suggests an analogy between his female figure and the fragile irises that surround her . . . His combining of a high-keyed palette and expressive brushwork with allegorical references reflects American artists’ concurrent interest, during the 1890s, in Impressionism and the universal imagery associated with the mural movement.”

A nice collection of Reid’s work can be found at Wikimedia Commons.

Karishma

For those of you who don’t follow me on Twitter, or who do follow me and may have missed this tweet, I think it’s really worth sharing again here on Museworthy so that all my readers can see it. It’s a video from BBC News about Karishma, a life model in India. Those of us who work as artist’s models in the West, and even better, in big cities with vibrant art scenes, are fortunate in many ways. I am conscious of this always. Karishma does her modeling in secret from her family, fearful of the social stigma that surrounds nudity and the conservative cultural attitudes that prevail in India today. She’s a brave young lady.

This video report reminds us of two important things: that life models who are able to work freely and regularly, should not take for granted our freedom to make a living at our profession. Some of us even blog about it :-) The other point is that artists too should not take life drawing opportunities for granted. The video tells us that Karishma is the only model at the school, and life drawing is not even a regular part of the fine arts program. That is terrible. So to you artists in America and Canada and Europe, keep in mind that when you have a nude model posing for your group you are enjoying a truly wonderful privilege.

Holiday Hiatus

This past Saturday at the National Academy was my last day of art modeling before the Christmas break. My next job isn’t until January 2nd, and I’m feeling a little bummed. I’ve been enjoying modeling so much lately, and posing really well, if I do say so myself. But the art schools are closing, the private groups are suspended until the new year, which makes me an artist’s model without a gig. Boo hoo. Now what am I supposed to do with myself? Christmas shopping? :lol:

I thought I’d share a drawing that was done at the National Academy. The class was anatomy drawing, taught by Eric March who is a great guy and I really like working with. First we had an informative demo focusing on the muscles in the neck and shoulders, during which I offered up my clavicle, trapezius, and something called the “sternocleidomastoid”. Then, with strategically placed lighting to help bring out the forms, Eric and I set up a pose where my head was turned sharply enough to fire up those neck muscles. The class worked on their drawings for a little over two hours. They were all wonderful, but this one by Eun Young Yun was a particular standout in my opinion. She used delicate, hatching-like pencil strokes, the effects of which I hope translate well enough in this photo I took.

Eun included more of my figure than did the other students, who limited their drawings to the neck and just vague suggestions of my head, hair, etc. The result with Eun’s piece is gauzy and gossamer. It has much more elegance and sensitivity than the stiff, studied academic anatomy drawings you usually see. Rather than generic, isolated body parts, there is clearly a human life subject present on Eun’s paper, sternocleidomastoid and all!

Pastels With Sam

The pastel portrait workshop I posed for last weekend was a great experience for many reasons. It was my first ever modeling job at the Art League of Long Island. The people enrolled in the class were incredibly warm, enthusiastic, and congenial. And best of all, the instructor was my very dear friend Sam Goodsell. Sam and I first became acquainted at the Art Students League years ago when I was just a new, inexperienced model cutting my teeth and learning the ropes of the art modeling world. I no longer work at the ASL, but Sam and I have remained friends ever since.

Sam really gave the workshop his all. He did a portrait demo, discussed pastel products and materials at length, showed how he preps a board surface using gesso, acrylics, and ground pumice, and answered every question asked of him. Sam is such an easy guy to talk to. Down-to-earth, sweet, funny.

Here is Sam doing his demo of me. He spoke eloquently about creating values, which is his great strength as a pastelist. Sam’s beautiful tones are what most attracts people to his work. I overheard a student saying that the reason she signed up for a Sam Goodsell workshop was to learn “how to create those values”.

Judy Davidson captured a terrific likeness of me in this pastel piece. When I asked her if I could photograph it for my blog she not only said yes but offered me the actual drawing! How generous! I asked her, “Are you sure you don’t want it?”. Judy was adamant and told me – in fact ordered me! – to take it home. Really nice when artists do that :-) So I have this work in my possession. It is a marvelous addition to my cherished treasure trove of art that I have collected over the years which chronicles my modeling career:

Pastels themselves are beautiful to look at. The quality of the pigment is different from that of oil paint. More pure perhaps? Pastelists have a special relationship with color. Reverent and passionate. It’s like a love affair, and Sam embodies that love. On one of the breaks, he and I were looking at his pastels and I saw him brimming with fondness and adoration for certain sticks that were his favorites, the ones he couldn’t live without. “I love greens” he said, smiling. “God I love greens!”. (I like blues myself). I think if Sam’s place was on fire he would risk his life to collect his pastels and save them from the inferno. Not his clothes or his gadgets or his photos. His pastels.

Another portrait of me, this one by Suzanne Young. So different from Judy’s, but just as beautiful. Everyone in the workshop concentrated intensely, trying to develop the technique of creating tones and values. When the class was working it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.

I posted more of my photos from the workshop on Flickr. Hope you enjoy them. And a final blogging note; please visit here on Saturday for a special Museworthy celebration. See you then!

A Nude Male Model in Scotland

“Bond. James Bond.”. You can hear the deep, manly voice of Sean Connery speaking those words, yes? But can you envision, like my mother has many times, the strapping, shirtless bod of Sir Sean? Well you can now. A long forgotten nude painting of Connery from 1952 has been discovered and will soon be going on display. The painting was found in the storage possessions of a recently deceased art instructor who was a former student at the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland.

Before he became well-known as an actor, Sean Connery was a weightlifter and professional bodybuilder. He and some of his fellow bodybuilders posed for life classes at the Edinburgh school to make some extra bucks. Check out this article in the Daily Mail. Before my mother faints, I want her and all the ladies to know that Connery in the painting is wearing what appears to be a jock strap. So no full monty from 007. I think that was standard practice for life classes in the 1950s. I don’t believe male models went fully nude, in Europe or the US, until the 1970s or so.

Click the above links to see the painting. And here’s a photo of a very young, buff Sean Connery, in the middle, with his equally buff buddies. Nice abs :-)

And here is another male model who never starred in Dr. No or got to make out with Ursula Andress. It’s just Academic Study of a Man by Theodore Gericault:

The Curatorial Department of Facebook

Gloating is an ugly quality. I’ve promised myself that I would try – TRY – to refrain from gloating or saying “I told you so” in this post. I do admit, however, to positively relishing any chance to whip up anti-Facebook sentiment on this blog. I have done it before, and dammit I’ll do it again! Here’s the situation.

The New York Academy of Art, a school where I model on a regular basis, recently found itself in “violation” of Facebook’s “Terms of Use” rules by uploading an image that contained nudity. You can read the entire story at the New York Times article, “Art School Runs Afoul of Facebook’s Nudity Police”. The offending image was an amazing ink drawing by Steven Assael. Steven is one of the most esteemed figurative artists living today and I am a huge fan of  his work.

And the drama continues. From the Times article:

Days later, when a school administrator was uploading images from a faculty show to Facebook, the school’s account was suddenly blocked from uploading anything for seven days. “They must have decided that we are a repeat offender,” said David Kratz, president of the academy. “We are a graduate school of figurative art. We teach people classical skills and technique.” Mr. Kratz said he and his staff were at a loss for what to do, since “there is no obvious way to contact anyone” at Facebook.

Personally, I’ve had it with these fine art vs obscene nudity “controversies” that pop up every few months. I’m just really tired of it. It’s lame, it’s old, it’s stupid, stale, and retrograde. It’s the same shit over and over again. People can’t discern between fine art and offensive porn? Really? A nude figurative drawing or oil painting created through inspiration, technique, and artistry cannot be distinguished from purely titillating, degrading smut? Really?? It’s become this embarrassing, repetitive nonsense. And now Facebook is involved. Ugh. Colorado artist Daniel Sprick had a similar problem with Facebook’s Terms of Use.

But remember that I am not on Facebook, so I don’t know anything about how it works in terms of image uploads, filters, etc. Maybe some of my readers can inform me? Most of my artist friends have Facebook pages which I obviously cannot view – because I’m not on Facebook. How do you guys get your nude images up? I just wrote in an email to my friend John Wellington that one of the reasons I didn’t start a Facebook page was that I feared problems would arise with posting images of my art modeling work. And that’s why I started this blog instead, over three years ago, so I could post my images without worrying about terms violations.

Speaking of John Wellington, he too has been caught up in this Facebook mess. In fact, he is quoted in the NY Times Article:

“It seems like they have really gone after artists,” said John Wellington, an artist in New York who is a graduate of the academy. “The images they are taking down are clearly paintings.” After one of his paintings was taken down recently, Mr. Wellington said he deleted from Facebook all the images that he had uploaded that showed a nipple, for fear that his account would be disabled.

Here’s John’s awesome painting that was deleted by Facebook. Click to enlarge so you can read his “safety warning”. Thank for the jpeg John! And here is the NYAA blog post which discusses this issue.

A Little Modeling and a Little Hopper

Hi friends! Did you all have a good week? I am finally back to work after the holiday break, and it feels good. But art modeling tends to trickle back in spurts after these recesses, so January will still be a relatively slow work month. After all these years I’ve learned and become accustomed to the erratic pattern of this business. March and April will be very busy. May can go either way. Then another brief break, and then summer sessions, etc, etc. The joys of freelance employment, right?

This new year has brought me to a wonderful art school founded by Robert Zeller, an MFA graduate of the New York Academy of Art. Rob has established The Teaching Studios of Art, which has two locations – one in Brooklyn and one in Oyster Bay, Long Island. I modeled at the Oyster Bay location yesterday for an intensive figure class and it was terrific. The students were great and Rob is an amazing teacher. I’m delighted to be working there now and happy to count The Teaching Studios among my places of employment.

I also to want to mention that the Whitney Museum here in New York is currently showing an exhibit of the American painter Edward Hopper. It’s called “Modern Life: Edward Hopper and His Time”. Hopper is one of those artists that people have either hot or cold feelings toward. Some people like him, and I am one of those people. I’ve always been a fan. Others, like my mother, claim that Hopper does nothing for them. But Mom is still open-minded enough to agree to see the Hopper exhibit with me. The show runs through April 10th, so I have plenty of time to drag her over there. I’ll butter her up a little bit and treat her to lunch beforehand :-)

Here’s some Hopper for the day. This is Hotel by a Railroad, from 1952:

Glorious, Groovy Summer

Greetings darlings!! How is everybody? I’m doing well. Very happy that this summer is turning out much better than last summer in terms of art modeling work. Last summer was pretty bad. But this year I’m working steadily and it’s great!

I’ve been booked for the Sculpture Marathon at the New York Academy of Art for the last week of July. The instructors will be Harvey Citron and Cynthia Eardley. Also, Daniel Maidman and I have just begun our private work together. I’m really excited about it! We had our first session  today at his studio in Brooklyn and it went splendidly. Daniel and I are friends, we work well together, and enjoy each other’s company which is always a plus for private sessions. Best of all, Daniel is a fabulous figurative artist whose work I really admire. He’s planning a magnificent painting of me; big and nude. What else could you ask for? :lol: I’m thrilled to be posing for him and I will chronicle our progress on the blog.

The Artist’s Model by Benes Knupfer:

On a different topic, I only recently began my summer reading due to my busy work schedule. Since I’ve gotten such a late start I don’t think I’ll make it through my whole list! I rarely do anyway. But I want to recommend a book to those who like nonfiction and/or history. It’s Letters to Jackie: Condolences From a Grieving Nation, complied by Ellen Fitzpatrick. I’m almost finished with it. Very, very touching. Moved me to tears every other page.

Posing, Learning, Blogging

Helloooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have returned!!!!!! Did y’all miss me? And did I just say “y’all“???? Oh man, that ain’t right :lol:

It’s good to be back. I missed posting on my blog! After a strenuous week of work I’m happy to report that I am free of nerve damage, muscle injury, or any other variation of art modeling physical trauma. Oh sure, I limped my way out of the New York Academy of Art the other night, and  very slowly made my way over to the Franklin Street subway. But once I got home, climbed into bed and sprawled out, the restful healing began. It’s amazing how well the body can bounce back after so much exertion. Long term effects I’m not so sure, but I prefer not to think about that!

The summer sessions at the New York Academy of Art consist of continuing education classes, which I really enjoy posing for. They’re very different from MFA classes. The students are somewhat friendlier and warmer toward the models, based on my experience. They learn a great deal and are demonstrably appreciative of the instructors’ guidance and the model’s hard work.

I’ve been enjoying my incidental observer’s role very much, a terrific perk of being an art model – free art education! Shauna Finn who is teaching the afternoon class, spent some time talking to the students about great painters like Vermeer and Velasquez. Cool. And John Wellington, who is teaching the night class, discussed the works and technique of Prud’hon. Cool again! Lectures, demos, plenty of painting, drawing, practicing, and, of course, a hell of a lot of art modeling. Summer in the city :-)

This chalkboard diagram is neater and clearer than anything I ever saw in school. The instructor wanted to illustrate the nuances of light and shadow, a critical issue for artists which involves subtleties of tones and values. “Reflected light” is much different from “direct light”, cast shadows different from core shadows, etc. Understanding these gradations, and painting them with accuracy, imbues artwork with beautiful depth and realism. In the night class, my leg is the source of this issue, as John Wellington and his monitor set the lights in such a way that a dramatic shadow runs down my mid thigh, over the knee, and down the lower leg, turning gently around the three-dimensional form.

I have no photo of myself posing, sorry about that. I have done it before much to everyone’s enjoyment.  I’ll ask a student to snap a picture next week. In the meantime, I can offer a picture of the empty stool on the modeling platform! Isn’t that exciting? It’s the setup for my afternoon class. That canvas is the beginning of a student’s work. Looks like she’s off to a fine start of a figure painting:

Did I mention that I also did a session at Spring Studio this week? I love working there. I’m also working Saturday at the National Academy. Love working there too! Most of all I love blogging on Museworthy!!!!!!!!!

Hope everyone is well. See you soon! :-)

Trust the Model

This isn’t a rant. More like a vent. I’m not upset. I just need to share an art modeling anecdote that addresses one of my relatively few grievances with this profession. A “pet peeve”, as they say.

Yesterday at FIT, I was posing for a large life drawing class. Before we began drawing, the instructor took a few minutes to explain that day’s assignment to the students. I always pay attention to those lectures because it’s also important for me, as the model, to understand the assignment, as it influences my posing. She also showed some sample drawings to illustrate what she was looking for, and those were very helpful as well.

So I listened attentively and decided that an active reclining pose would be best. The students were asked to divide their paper into several sections and draw a different body part in each one of those sections. Could be any body parts – a foot, a hand, the torso, an ear, a thigh, a shoulder, etc. With an active reclining pose, the anatomy of the figure is well-displayed. I can outstretch one arm, bend one leg, arch the back to reveal the breasts and the rib cage, twist a little, and hold my gaze up toward the ceiling so facial features can still be seen. I was going to make everything as pronounced and as interesting as I could, providing negative spaces, both horizontal and vertical lines, a cornucopia of human anatomy. I really felt, instinctually, that the pose was perfect for that project.

I shared my idea with the instructor and she thought it was terrific, so we set it up. I got into my pose and she walked around the platform to view it from all angles. Then she gave me an enthusiastic thumbs-up. “Looks great!”, she said. “I wish I was drawing this myself!”. I was pleased :-)

But then, about a minute after I set my timer and started the pose, I heard a voice. “Can we just have her stand? I can’t draw this!”. Uh oh. Here we go. Then another one, “Yeah, me neither! Let’s do something else.” And another one. “This is no good! Let’s do a sitting pose.” These were the voices of students. Young, inexperienced art students, trying to undo my work and reject my well thought-out pose. I’m sorry, but that’s a no-no. And the hits just kept on coming. “How about sitting in a stool?”. “No, I want standing!”. “How about turning to the left and sitting Indian-style?”. You know what? How about shutting the hell up and letting me do my job????? Grrrrrrr :twisted:

Here’s the deal. In this environment – undergraduate art school, room full of first year art students, and an assignment that was essentially a practice exercise – only TWO people should decide on the pose: the model and the teacher. You can’t have 25 different people barking out their own opinions and ordering the model around to accommodate their individual preferences. First of all it’s just rude and bad manners. That’s number one. Number two, an art class is not a democracy. I know that sounds awful and fascist, but it’s the way it has to be, otherwise it’s chaos. At places like the National Academy, the students aren’t even allowed in the room when the pose is decided. They wait outside while the model, the instructor, and the monitors set up the pose in the studio. Then the students come in and select their spot based on the pose they’ve been given.

A small, intimate group of professional artists in a private studio is an entirely different dynamic. In those situations, which are more collaborative in nature, I am happy to ask the five or six people what kind of pose they would prefer. And a consensus is always reached without conflict. Different settings call for different behaviors.

So at FIT yesterday I didn’t get visibly annoyed or raise my voice or anything like that. I never behave that way as I am the “anti-diva” :lol: But I was a bit frustrated and tried to explain that the reclined pose would work best with their assigned project. “But it’s too complicated!! I can’t see!!”. No, children. It would be complicated if you had to draw the WHOLE THING. You’re not drawing the WHOLE THING. You’re drawing parts. Any parts you want. From any angle you want. Get up and move if you don’t like your perspective! Geez.

My point is that people have to trust the model and let her do her job. I’m not an arrogant person generally, and I feel really uncomfortable even writing this but . . . I know what I’m doing. I’ve been doing it a long time. I’m presenting the pose, and young art students need to just be quiet, and draw, and learn. If you reject new challenges you’ll never learn anything. And art models are not indentured servants. We are there by choice, not by force. The “public debate” thing over poses is not good. I’ve seen it many times and it’s never productive, just like that saying about “too many cooks spoil the pot”.

I don’t appreciate students barking orders at me when I’m up on the platform, taking a pose that, incidentally, was already approved by the teacher. She’s paid to do her job, just as I’m paid to do mine. So please, don’t shout shit at me when I’m trying to work! Think of it this way; how appropriate would it be for me, the model, to walk around the room on my break giving critiques of the students’ drawings and telling them to make changes? Not appropriate at all, because it’s not my job and I’m not qualified.

So after 10 minutes – that’s 10 wasted minutes, by the way – of testing out inferior poses, for no other reason except to indulge the capricious whims of teenagers, we ended up with . . . the original pose. The same one I started with! There was one minor adjustment- a second pillow under my back. That’s it. That was the big alteration.

Everything’s fine. I like FIT a lot, and I like the students there. They just lack confidence, I guess. And maybe they get nervous when they see something that tests their skills, so they panic. I understand that. By the way, after all the confusion they ended up doing really excellent drawings! Even the instructor said so. I was very proud of them. Oh man, why didn’t they just trust me in the first place? :sigh:


Photo by Fred Hatt