A Private Affair

Did you hear that? It was the sound of crickets chirping. Things are silent, barren, dormant. I have officially entered the art model’s work “wasteland” that is August. With the exception of Spring Studios, all my places of employment have shut down for a long summer siesta. National Academy is closed, School of Visual Arts is closed, Studio School is closed, FIT is closed. I can see the cobwebs forming and the dust accumulating with my own eyes. Well, not really, but you get the idea.

So what does an art model do for work – and money – during this idle standstill? Private art modeling, that’s what. Of course, models do private work all year round, but summer is the ideal time. Why would an artist spend the extra dough to hire a model privately? Plenty of reasons. You can have the model you want, the pose you want, the setup you want, the angle you want, the lighting you want, even the hours and days you want. Everything tailored to your preferences. Everything designed to serve your individual artistic vision. Not that there’s anything wrong with a class session, but for many artists it has its restrictions. Say it’s a two-week painting class and you don’t care for the model. You’re stuck with it. Say you don’t like the instructor-dictated pose. You’re stuck with it. Say you want to work for four hours instead of three? Again, you’re stuck with it. If you want things your way, you have to get your own studio space and hire your muse.

I do private work with artists and this summer I’m working with three. One of them is my good friend Scott Lawson. Scott and I have been working together for over a year now, and the experience has been both productive and enjoyable. I often talk about the model’s role as muse, and it’s during private, one-on-one work that the model wears the muse mantle in the truest, purest sense of the word.

Scott is a traditional figurative artist. He perceives his paintings before they happen and knows exactly what he wants, which is why only private sessions can provide the creative environment he needs. Plus, he wants the model who inspires him 🙂

Scott and I have just begun a new painting, which is already coming alive in a stunning way. But here I will post the piece we completed earlier this year.

By Scott Lawson, this is Claudia, oil on linen, 2008:

2 thoughts on “A Private Affair

  1. Annelie says:

    I’ve given some thought to hiring privately. I’m a bit tired of the routine in the class sessions. Recently some friends posed and it was great because, like you say, I could ask for what I wanted and set up the lighting myself. The only surprise that came up was the notion that I wanted to make sure they “looked good” so that they didn’t regret modelling! I didn’t predict that thought coming up in my brain.

  2. artmodel says:


    It’s great that you have friends willing to pose. I’ve known many artists who do that. It’s interesting, though, that in your case you wanted to make them “look good” rather than them ASKING you to make them look good. I’ve heard that that can happen sometimes when artists use people who are not professional models. The subjects actually request and expect that the painting will be flattering and attractive. Can be one of the drawbacks in working with “regular people”. Good professional art models know better, and understand that art is an interpretation of the subject through the artist’s eyes. And it may not always be pretty! Models either have to accept it or find another line of work.

    Thanks for commenting, Annelie!


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