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:

4 thoughts on “Doing Double Duty

  1. Goose says:

    Did you write this just for me? I just did my first pairing this Wednesday, and I’m afraid it was more on the awkward side, neither of us having any experience in the doubles field. Reading this makes me want to try again, just to see what I could come up with.

  2. artmodel says:

    Goose,

    I hear that! Doubles are tricky for sure. And don’t think it’s your inexperience, either, that caused awkwardness on Wednesday. Even the most seasoned art model can go through awkwardness in doubles if they and their partner are just incompatible. Sometimes it’s that simple.

    By the way, you are, as far as I’m concerned, an experienced art model! With great instincts and a great attitude to boot. Doing doubles takes some getting used to, it’s true. But there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned chemistry. That alone can lift a great deal of pressure off the situation, and makes things flow better.

    I’ve found that if that awkward situation exists, sometimes the best way to handle it is for one of the models to “take charge”. The “weaker” model (hate to use that word but I can’t think of a better one right now) should take a pose FIRST, and the stronger model should “react” to it, take a pose that will bring interest and drama to the original one. After all, it’s the “second” pose that’s making the doubles doubles. Without it, it’s just one model posing as a single. For example, I once worked with a male model who liked to stand a lot for some reason. Not that there’s anything wrong with standing, but it’s a vertical line, and it’s best for the second model to counter that vertical line with something else. So whenever he stood, I took a “reacting” pose to his, to create some interest and give purpose to his standing. I touched him a lot, because I needed to. I knelt down at his feet and looked up with a reaching arm, I stood behind him and embraced his chest and shoulders and rested my head on his back, I held his hand and pulled his arm towards mine to create tension, I even curled myself around his feet in a submissive fetal position. Like you said, Goose, it’s all about what you can “come up with”. Art models have to think fast, be resourceful, and dig down for expressiveness and originality. We are “on stage”, literally and figuratively. And it’s hard work.

    You know what happened to my scheduled doubles booking on Saturday? The male model called in sick the night before and cancelled. So I was liberated! I worked the whole afternoon at Spring Studios by myself. And it was great. ::sigh of relief:: 🙂

    Great to hear from you as always, Goose.

    Best,
    Claudia

  3. CBrown says:

    I was on my way to that session at Spring Street, but I left my place a little late and the trains were screwy, so I gave up (I hate getting there late and crawling through the crowded basement looking for a spot while everyone tries to draw). I just recently discovered your blog, Claudia, and enjoy it a lot, and wonder if I’ve ever actually drawn you. I don’t think so, and so now, I still haven’t!

  4. artmodel says:

    CBrown,

    Oh man! That’s too bad! It was a fun afternoon down at Spring. But I know what you went through with the trains. Weekends can be hell.

    I’d love for you to draw me, especially now since you’ve found my blog. It’s funny because I’m back at Spring tomorrow afternoon (Monday). And you can always consult Minerva’s giant calendar to see which models are posing when. Just look for my name. If you’re ever there when I’m posing, please introduce yourself to me on my break.

    I’m sure you will draw me soon. Until then, I’m delighted that you are reading Museworthy!

    Thanks for commenting 🙂

    Claudia

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