Hooray for Hollywood

With Oscar season approaching I thought I’d remind everyone that art modeling once made it onto the big screen, in a big way. It may come as no surprise that my favorite scene in the 1997 blockbuster film “Titanic” was not of the sinking ship, but of Kate Winslet posing nude for Leonardo DiCaprio in a tender, playful, and very private life drawing session.

I enjoy this scene, and my seasoned and oh-so-worldly art model’s soul isn’t too jaded to appreciate it. Actually, I think it’s very well done, especially in how it conveys the motivations of Kate Winslet’s character; a teenage girl starting to connect with her womanhood, feeling attraction for a man and desiring to be close to him, yearning to be liberated, try a new experience, curious about being a subject for art, and seeking the thrill of complete and honest “exposure”. Yeah, I get it. I get all of it 🙂

The only problem with this video clip is that the editing seems to have cut out the moment when Kate first drops her gown. It’s disappointing because that is precisely the moment when a “virgin” art model discovers who she really is, when it hits her that she is standing stark naked in front of someone, unguarded and vulnerable. It’s the “showdown” moment when she either overcomes or submits to her fears, when she realizes that the experience will either make her feel powerful or powerless. The choice is simple. You either dive in or you run for the hills. It’s one or the other, you know. There’s no in between.

By the way, I have done the posing with “only a necklace” thing. It’s a nice look, except in my case the necklace has never been some rare, gigantic diamond! Rather it’s been some $5 beaded thing I bought off a sidewalk street stand in the East Village.

I doubt any male artists out there would object to Kate Winslet posing nude for their drawings. And I can’t say I’d have any objections posing nude for Leonardo DiCaprio.

3 thoughts on “Hooray for Hollywood

  1. ColdSilverMoon says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the moment she drops her down, Claudia! The first time I ever posed nude was by far the most exposed I’ve ever felt, yet most thrilling of all the many times I’ve dropped the robe. You never feel the same after that initial experience. The only thing that comes close is when I pose for a group for the first time or pose for high school or or even college kids who’ve never seen a live nude person before – the feeling’s not the same, but that newness and excitement is there. But that first time modeling is a thrill and a fear like no other. I could go on and on about it, but for now I’ll just say I wish I could do it all over again.

    Another thing that I’ve found interesting is that the smaller the group, the more aware I am of my nudity. When there are 50 people in a large room it’s as if there’s more of a sterility and detachment, despite the fact that more people are seeing me naked at once. But when there are only 3-4 artists in a small private space, and especially for 1 on 1 sessions, the reality of being exposed is much more vivid. I can see why Rose describes this drawing session as “the most erotic moment of my life.”

  2. artmodel says:


    So perfectly said. We can never forget “firsts”, and the sensation of that first “gown-drop” can never be repeated. It’s too bad! Like you, I am one of those who found it exhilarating. But we can never get it back 😥

    I think you’re right about feeling the nudity more consciously in a smaller group. Large classes are more impersonal, definitely. I would add to that and say that I’m also more aware of my nudity when the artists are younger people – like art school students. They have less experience with nude models and sometimes you can tell that they’re still not fully comfortable with it. Mature groups of men and women, on the other hand, have a totally different vibe. They’re much more serious, and focused on you as the model, not a “naked person”

    Again, I wish this video hadn’t cut that part out! It was the most revealing (pardon the pun) moment of the scene. And Kate Winslet was so adorable.

    Thanks for your comments.


  3. ColdSilverMoon says:

    Yeah, I agree with you. I actually enjoy the classes where I’m more aware of my nudity, because they make me feel more alive, more – I dunno – *human* for lack of a better word. In the big classes and groups, even in certain sessions at Spring Street, I feel like just another pile of human flesh contorting itself on the platform. But in the small classes and private community groups I feel much more alive, much more aware of my body, much more of an interaction with the artists – as if I’m tangibly contributing to their work. I relish those types of sessions much more than the bigger, and perhaps better paying schools and ateliers.

    I agree with you about younger artists – I feel much more nude in a class full of 14-15 year old girls at a high school than in a room full of artists. I may be the first nude person, especially nude man, a lot of the younger students will ever see. For me, it is an honor and a privilege to pose for them, and it makes me want to make this first life drawing session a meaningful one.

    The other group I find tends to be more aware of the nudity is older, non-professional artists. I want to tread lightly here so as not to stereotype or offend anyone, but I often find that in community centers and groups with senior citizens who draw for pure enjoyment I get a similar vibe that I might get at a high school or college. I think its invigorating for older people to see and draw a young nude person. It’s not sexual per se, but more of a reconnection to youth and vitality that they don’t experience regularly. In the same way that young people may feel a sense of excitement or trepidation when working with a nude model at first, so I think for seniors it takes them back to the day when the body was young and nudity was fresh and exciting.

    Regardless, I enjoy those types of experiences because it adds a spark and sense of newness that is sometimes missing from the experienced artists who work with the figure frequently.

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