Doing Double Duty

Well, I’ve had a full week of art modeling. And even though tomorrow is Friday, my work still won’t be done, as I am booked to pose at Spring Studios for the afternoon session, which is doubles. Yes, that’s two models for the price of one.

Doubles can be tricky for models. Chemistry is essential. I’ve worked doubles that went smashingly well, and others that were awkward and frustrating. Very frustrating. It’s all in the pairing. In my case, I am an extrovert who tends to work much better with other extroverts. The reason is communication. Two models posing together must be able to communicate well and be equally expressive. If not, the artists will notice the disparity, the inconsistency, the giant gulf between the two models. And then the whole point of working from two models is lost. I mean, why bother? Is it just to have two bodies on the stage? Or two human beings, interacting, communicating, putting the same amount of effort and creativity into their poses? I think most artists would say the latter.

The model I’m posing with on Saturday is a guy I’ve done doubles with before. I’m sorry to say that it wasn’t one of those great chemistry situations. But we’ll see what happens. Between now and then, I’ll have to come up with some enterprising and proactive ideas to make it work. He and I have to get through the whole afternoon, and pose together for 4 1/2 hours. Fasten your seatbelts!

Philip Pearlstein is one artist who sure knows something about working with two or more models. In his long and still active career, he has created many distinctive paintings and drawings of nude life models, in pairs and even threes. They are excellent examples of the opportunities for interesting composition and perspective that multiple figures provide.

Pearlstein gave a lecture recently at the New York Studio School. I really wanted to attend, but I had to work that night at SVA. I miss everything :sob:. But I would have liked to meet him. I hear he’s a cool guy.

This is Philip Pearlstein’s Two Nudes in Studio, from 1965: