“I Pose, Therefore I Am”

Figurative artists are awesome! They’re awesome mainly because they love the human body. They’re doubly awesome because were it not for them, I wouldn’t be employed. (Well, I’d still have the Illustration Department at FIT 🙂 ) The human figure is an astounding collection of shapes, lines, textures, and colors. And they’re all organic and sentient. Really, that’s all the material one needs to create a compelling work of art, is it not?

Sure there exists a painting philosophy that likes to cram model setups full of inanimate props. I have been posed many times amid a sea of bottles, vases, draped fabrics, guitars, plastic grapes and peaches, bamboo rods, baskets, fans, fake plants and trees, and much more. Now I confess I’m not a big prop person. I never even use those posing sticks employed by many models (males mostly) for drawing groups. I hate those sticks. They throw off my balance. I know they’re supposed to facilitate the model’s balance and stabilize them during the pose. But for me they have just the opposite effect. I’m much steadier on my own two legs thank you very much.

I find especially dramatic the figurative work that has the simplest of compositions – in other words, the model and just the model, undistracted, unenhanced, the “acoustic” version if you will. “Less is more”, as they say. The dynamics of the painting originate from the model, in a beautiful harmony that comes together from the pose, the body itself, the aura, energy, and personality emanating from the life subject – the best subject there is.

I’m so thrilled to post this image of a painting by my dear friend Tai Hung Lin. Tai has been studying with Sharon Sprung for over five years, and man does it show! The model is, guess who? Yes, yours truly. And I adore this painting because it has a kind of existential quality; a lone woman in reflection and rumination, and a gentle touch of passivity with the bowed head. Very interesting, and powerful in its simplicity. This painting is the perfect example of my earlier point, that a work of art need not be crowded with a lot of frivolous hoopla to create interest. Why would you need to “create” interest when you have a life model as your subject?

Here I am through the gifted eyes of Tai. This piece was done in Sharon Sprung’s class at the National Academy, spring 2007:

2 thoughts on ““I Pose, Therefore I Am”

  1. redstarcafe says:

    Tai has done a beautiful job and, you’re right, it’s perfect without grapes and vases.

    Last weekend, our drawing class observed a model with images projected on her. Leaves and text didn’t seem to work, and they only complicated things for those of us who were searching for the figure and finding it hard to do so in the low light.

    The last long pose featured a projection by “Vandals in Control”, which superimposed colourful graffiti on the model. It turned out to be perfect, and at that point, we would have wished for a 3 hour pose to capture all the graphics.

    I think this may be their website:


  2. artmodel says:


    What a cool idea! Wow, that sounds really fun and interesting, projecting the graffiti images onto the figure. Much better than plastic grapes!

    My friend Fred Hatt does light paintings which are really amazing. Much like your drawing class session, the model’s body contours and shadows are intensified. It’s a lot better than the addition of separate, unrelated phony objects.

    Thank you for your nice compliment about Tai’s painting. He is a very talented, observant, and sensitive artist. I enjoy posing for him. And I feel so proud to be the subject of that wonderful figurative piece.


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