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.