Thin is in

The traditional, “old-school” perception of an artist’s model is that of a plump, curvy, “zaftig” woman. Indeed, a great deal of the art from centuries past feature those kinds of models. Apparently, that heavier look represented robust health, wealth, sensuality, etc. I get it. But must those women have a lock on our profession? I say no way, Jose.

It’s bad enough that when it comes to my mother, I suffer a “double-whammy”, and by that I mean she is both an artist and, well, my mother. So it’s fairly often that I hear her remark that I am a little “too skinny”. I have posed in front of my mother at Spring Studios, and while she always compliments my work, she still manages to mention that I look thin up on the platform. So as an artist she’d prefer a few more curvy lines to draw, and as a mother she, like many mothers, would like her daughter to have sufficient meat on her bones. Ok, I confess that in some poses one can see my ribs quite visibly. And my sternum. And when I sit for long periods it can get a little uncomfortable because I lack enough, um, “padding” on my backside. So someone (a meanie) could call me bony, but personally I prefer “anatomically well-articulated”. (Euphemisms rule!)

My mother is not alone in this. More than a few times, I have heard from elderly ladies in painting classes that it wouldn’t kill me to “put on a few pounds” and been asked if I’m “eating enough”. (once I was almost forcibly fed a jelly donut by a concerned lady). I don’t take offense, really I don’t. I like to think of them as my Mom’s “substitutes” when she’s not there. They mean well, and they’re from an older generation where body image was different than it is today. I’m not saying better or worse, mind you. I’m a big fan of Marilyn Monroe who, I believe, proudly wore a size 14. That’s pretty cool. I love her.

But I am most certainly not Marilyn Monroe. When it comes to art modeling, I am thin for some. I know this. On the flip side, however, I can serve an instructor’s anatomy demo very well. (Just ask Frank Porcu at the Art Students League) Also, my light, thin frame allows me to express graceful gestures, while my long torso helps to create long, uninterrupted lines. Not bad, right? I think the good art models know their bodies well, know what their physical assets are and, therefore, know how best to utilize them – “play up” their strengths, as it were. My good friend Dan Gheno put it best when he told a student during instruction that I have an “elegant body”. Yes, Dan, you rock! Many thanks, my friend.

The 20th century artist Modigliani also saw elegance and beauty in a thin figure. Here is his “Reclining Nude” from 1913:


5 thoughts on “Thin is in

  1. PINOY BLOGGER says:

    HI Muse!

    Borrowed a picture from your blog for my post. Thanks in advance…

    Are you a painter? Goo day!

  2. melissa says:

    Hi Claudia

    Its always fascinatiing to read your blog and ypu are so intelligent.
    I read that your mom is an artist herself
    has she sold any of her works and has she done any drawings of you in portrait and figure if so was it nerve wracking to have her illustrate you since you are her muse and daughter in your point of view ?
    and is there a chance to see any of her work on your postings in the future?


  3. Derek says:

    This is an interesting article but very cute may I say.
    I am not gonna take any side. everyone is entitled to their opinions. you can”t please everyone. You do what makes you happy. I have no issues with your lovely mum Elaine. I don’t know her personally but I do know that she is a wonderful lady based on my correspondence, and she has been your rock of Gibraltar. I don’t think she was trying to be critical I think she was speaking from an artist point of view. A lot of artists have a vision they see for themselves in their creative environment. I see her as a person with a creative vision . I think its great that your mum has witnessed and illustrated you as a fine artist and a proud mum . Not many parents approve of having their children to do art modeling. I see you as a creative visionary when it comes to their art of posing and you do nit with such eloquence and grace. I was one of them at first with Peta when she got into the art modeling but as time went by I have learned to accept it and now I am very proud of Peta in what she does and she is a creative person and not only she does art modeling but she is also a writer and going to school in Sydney.I learned that from both of you especially when I was ill last year. Anyway I hope I am not boring you telling you all this. But reading your blog is very educational. I look forward to our artworks in the gallery for museworthy. Elaine has taught me how to be a supportive parent and how to be accepting and how to love your children. Based on I am reading you are still her greatest accomplishment just like Peta is to me and my ex. God bless you both

    Luv in Australia

    Derek Tewey

  4. I also have clear “bony landmarks”. Especially in reclining poses, my ribs, clavicle, anterior superior iliac spine are all easy to see and draw. I’ve done very limited anatomy modeling and would love to do more, though there are few classes/sessions that I have found in the Chicago area.

    An artist at the Ravenswood Atelier requested that I pose there more often, as the other models are all “rounder”. She surprised me when she said that, because curvy women models are so much more in demand than angular men (such as myself). Guys are reputedly much harder to draw, so she must appreciate the challenge. I wish there were more artists like her!

    Don’t change a thing about yourself! Thin is in!

    • artmodel says:


      What a difference seven years makes! What I mean by that comment is I am not nearly as thin now as I was when I wrote this post. Yikes! I’m not dramatically different or anything but, let’s just say, not as thin. It’s the same old story; we get older, we hit middle-age, metabolism slows down. My legs, however, are exactly the same. They never change!
      And yes, men are generally more challenging to draw.

      Thanks for commenting.


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