Painting the Town

My big new art modeling gig is just 36 hours away. Friday morning, 10:00 AM sharp, I will stroll into the New York Academy of Art for my first day of work. I’m excited! Not experiencing any butterflies or nervousness, thank god. Just hoping I get a good night’s sleep and wake up feeling well-rested, well-stretched, on top of my game :crosses fingers:

This will be the first time in over two years that I’ll be posing in front of people who are completely unacquainted with me. I’ve been working in the same places for so long, that every time I pose there are several artists, or at least an instructor, who knows me well. Familiarity is a delight, it’s true. The comfort level, conviviality, and intimacy can’t be beat. But Friday morning will be a special treat because I get to experience that “one time only” sensation of presenting myself for the very first time. Strange sets of eyes in a strange new studio, they’re going to size me up, assess me, evaluate me, study me. Bring it on! For my part, I’m relishing the opportunity to step onto a “virgin platform”. It will be my Neil Armstrong on the moon moment. I don’t know why it thrills me so much, but it does.

The one thing I’ll miss Friday morning is not being greeted with the usual “Hi Claudias!” and “Good to see yous!” I’ll probably hear instead, “Who the hell is this bony broad? Can she pose? She’d better put up that shaggy mop of hair so we can see her neck, dammit!” Just kidding 😆

I’ll have to get used to calling the New York Academy of Art “the Academy” and remember to keep referring to the National Academy as “the National”. (Written shorthand in my planner it will be NYAA and NA). Don’t want to get my academies mixed up. Two very different places, especially in geography. The National Academy is on the Upper East Side, on 89th Street, across the street from the Guggenheim. The New York Academy is way, way, way downtown in Tribeca. Watch me get on the uptown subway by mistake!

In due time I hope to have an image of a New York Academy of Art painting for the blog. That would be terrific. There are very talented, hardworking artists down there and I really look forward to seeing their artistic interpretations of me. So as the class progresses I’ll sidle up to one of them, do a little sweet talking, and ask coyly, “Can me takey piccy for my bloggy?? Pwetty pwease?????”.

In the meantime, the uptown academy – the good old NATIONAL Academy – has produced more paintings of me than any other school in this town. I’ve been working there the longest and have a sentimental attachment to the place. Way back when, it was the National Academy that “broke me in”, when I was a new, emerging artist’s model.

Curt Altmann was kind enough to send me this image of his painting. It was created very recently in Nicky Orbach’s class at the National, and we enjoyed our laid-back Saturday mornings. Not only did Curt render me so strong, dramatic and assertive, he also brought me coffee from the deli! Now THAT’S how you treat a model. Bring coffee. We are eternally grateful 🙂 Thanks Curt, you’re a sweetheart! And thanks for the pic. I love it.

claudia_nasd_4

New York Academy of Art . . . here I come!

17 thoughts on “Painting the Town

  1. Brian G says:

    Being an art model myself, I enjoy reading your posts about life as an art model in New York City. You seem to really enjoy your experiences with the artists, and most of them appreciate your contribution to their art. The question I have is, do you do this for a living, full time? From your posts it sounds like you do, and I can’t imagine what that must be like. First from a physical standpoint, posing for more than a couple hours a day is tough on the body. And from a financial standpoint, do art modeling gigs pay that well in NYC? My brother works in Manhattan for an insurance company and makes decent money, but lives in Queens because the cost of living in NYC is so high. I can’t imagine someone paying the bills in the Big Apple by just art modeling. Thanks for sharing, Claudia.

  2. Brooke says:

    Great question Brian! I, myself, am very interested to know the answer Claudia! If you do manage to make a living off of full-time art modeling, boy, do I want to come out to NYC and have you take me under your wing!

    🙂

  3. artmodel says:

    Brian G and Brooke,

    Happy to discuss. Like your brother, Brian, I also live in Queens, so that should answer most of your question. Living in Manhattan is an impossibility (I don’t want to live there anyway).

    I am a full time art model, and there are a few of us out there, though we are a rare breed. I won’t lie, it’s not easy. But it is possible. Art modeling jobs in NY vary in pay, and art models should pursue the higher paying jobs. I know many models who stubbornly continue to work at the low paying jobs, and then complain incessantly that they don’t make enough money. Also, art models do much better when they do private work because they can charge their own rate, rather than working for a school rate. I have always done private work throughout my career. I doubt I’d be able to support myself without it. It’s essential.

    Brian, as far as the physical part is concerned, yes it’s a great strain on the body. I guess some people just CAN’T do it for nine hours a day even if they wanted to. Full time art modeling isn’t for everybody, no doubt about it. A degree of physical toughness is a must. And full time art modeling also means working nights, weekends, even holidays in some cases. Many people are not willing to do that.

    I don’t have a problem supporting myself on a simple day-to-day basis. My bills get paid at the end of the month and I “do without” plenty of things. I’m fine with that. My main concern is the lack of health insurance, retirement, and the possibility of something catastrophic. God forbid I break my leg, I can’t work and can’t make money. I’d be in serious trouble with no income for many, many weeks. If an art model gets injured on the job, she can’t claim disability or worker’s compensation because we are considered “independent contractors”. We have no actual employers, and therefore receive no protection.

    So it’s definitely not all smooth sailing. I’ve always said that a full time art modeling career has risks, disadvantages, and requires an enormous amount of hard work. Dealing with model coordinators and difficult personalities/ temperaments is yet another stress-inducing hassle.

    To be a full time art model demands, above all else, dedication and passion for the work itself. If you don’t truly love it, you won’t want to do it all day every day for less than stellar money. But if you are driven to do it, like I am, the livelihood will take shape through smart choices, good networking, and solid professional relationships.

    And Brooke, I will take you “under my wing” any day! But you have a fine career of your own and are an inspiration to many, including me 🙂

    I hope this was helpful for everyone.

    Claudia

  4. Stephen says:

    Good luck for tomorrow. Enjoy the moment.
    Stephen

  5. artmodel says:

    I will, Stephen, thank you!!

    Claudia

  6. Ron says:

    Good luck on your new gig Claudia. And to you and the other full timers, workers’ compensation insurance for yourself as a self employed individual is very inexpensive and would be worth every penny if you do get hurt.

  7. Alex says:

    Hi, Muse.

    Congrats on your new gig! I hope it as every bit as exciting and rewarding as it can be. I’m sure you will give them good pose!

    I just had my first gig at a new venue today- Loyola University in Chicago. It was a long drive into the city for me but I was eager to work for someplace new. It was a basic drawing class where the students were being introduced to life drawing for the first time. Needless to say there were many “stylized” drawings of me but it was also sort of rewarding to be many of the students’ first life model. The instructor was very skilled and easy to get along with, as well.

    I had a second gig two hours after the one at Loyola ended which meant some high speed travel on Interstate 90 to the far west suburbs but I was glad to have two gigs in a day.

    Which brings me to my own commentary about being a full-time art model. As of Monday when I was laid off from my corporate job of nine years I became a full-time art model. I had been taking three or four modeling gigs a week at places I’d established relationships with already but had difficulty modeling during the daytime because it conflicted with my corporate job.

    After getting kicked out of my former employer’s premises on Monday, I called some of the schools I model at and immediately picked up two daytime gigs. I apparently called at the right time because both places had other models cancel for days later in the week.

    I made several calls to places around Chicago that do life drawing classes that I had not modeled at and landed the gig at Loyola. The instructor apparently like my modeling because he scheduled me for a community college he works for next Wednesday. I let him know I appreciated the work. Getting re-booked by an instructor after your first gig is a big compliment on your modeling.

    Now that I’m into my first week as a full-time art model, I’ve been adding up the numbers of earnings versus expenses and Claudia is right. Working as an art model I will probably find myself living close to the wire. I can see that it will be tough to make ends meet. Luckily I’ve never lived extravagantly so it won’t really be much of a lifestyle change for me. I’ll just have to be more careful with my expenses. I’ll probably do a bit of freelance in my old industry on the side to make extra cash but I’m sticking with modeling. I guess I could say my old employer did me a favor by kicking me out- I probably wouldn’t have tried art modeling full-time otherwise.

    I have decided that I’m not going back to working a corporate job- I’m just tired of all the greed and insensitivity I encounter there. Artists are much more real as people- they ARE people! They care about bigger things than just making as much cash as possible. That and I do love art modeling. I love being part of the creative process. I’m thrilled to know my body can be the genesis for art.

    I’ll have to see how things play out but I’m with Claudia on this. If you love it do it. The monetary part will sort itself out.

    Good luck at the New York Academy of Art, Claudia. Keep us posted on how things go!

    Best Wishes,

    -Alex

  8. D says:

    I won’t say “break a leg”, but rather, “knock ’em dead!”

    – D

  9. ColdSilverMoon says:

    How did it go????

    “Virgin” sessions are some of the most exciting. Especially at arguably the best figurative art school in the world. Can’t wait to hear about it…

  10. PADoug says:

    Claudia,

    Good work. I’m not full time, but rather consider myself a “Back-up” type of model, such as when a model calls off. However, I have also recently taken up walking and some basic push-ups/pull-ups/sit ups andand some minor weight training for a natural body work out. I wasn’t doing it for the modeling, but rather just to get in shape to fend off mid winter cabin fever. However, my posing stamina has increased dramatically. I’m able to hold much more difficult poses longer, and the instructors have noticed it. I remember your post earlier about staying fit. Now I really appreciate what you were saying.

    Keep up the good work. I would love to visit NY and all the galleries. You may be financially strapped at times, but you are still better off than most of the world, and living in a way and place some of us can only wish for. I’ll keep smiling and cheering you on. 🙂

    Doug

  11. artmodel says:

    Ron, thanks!

    I appreciate the advice about workers’ comp. I probably should look into it.

    Claudia

  12. artmodel says:

    Alex,

    Thanks for your good wishes! Wow, you’ve been through quite a professional upheaval this past week. Although I’m very sorry you lost your corporate job, the upside of your circumstance is that it’s pushed you deeper into art modeling. You love the work and are passionate about it, so maybe it’s all for the best. Funny how things work out.

    Congrats on the Loyola gig! Sounds terrific. And yes, getting re-booked by an instructor is definitely a professional approbation, not to mention a huge confidence booster.

    Alex, I know how art modeling makes you feel – happy, gratified, inspired by the creative process. I’m exactly the same way. And in this troubling economic situation we’re in, full time art modeling might just be one of the more stable employment options. Imagine that!

    You’re doing great. You’re on the ball, you’re dedicated, you’re having fun. Sounds good to me! And isn’t it nice without a day job getting in the way? 😆

    Thanks so much for your comments, Alex.

    Claudia

  13. artmodel says:

    D,

    Considering the strenuous standing pose I held for the entire day, I almost did break a leg – MINE! 😆

    But I think I knocked them dead, too, figuratively speaking of course. Thanks for your support!

    Claudia

  14. artmodel says:

    ColdSilverMoon,

    I’m so glad you commented! I was hoping you would. It went really well, sweetie. I like the school a lot. I hope to work there much more in the future.

    Wrote about it on the new post, and will give more detail when I’m less tired. And you’re so right about those “virgin sessions”. A rare, exhilarating sensation in those, and it had been so long for me! I felt “new” again, like I had something to prove, and I like having to prove myself all over. Rids you of the jaded “shell”. Renews and rejuvenates. Awesome.

    Thanks friend!

    Claudia

  15. artmodel says:

    PADoug,

    Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from fellow models.

    I’m not surprised you saw noticeable difference in your posing from the workouts. The sit-ups especially. I strongly recommend yoga too, which you probably know from reading the blog. That helps with balance and flexibility, while the weight/resistance training help with stamina and strength, like you said.

    By the way, you are a MODEL, whether “back-up” or not.

    The second half of your comments made me smile. You framed my life and professional circumstances in such a wonderfully positive context. Thank you for that! I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, especially after listening to gloomy news and financial reports. I definitely can’t complain. While things can be tough, I’m still surviving while also doing something I love. Not a bad deal.

    You should come to New York and visit galleries!. You’d love it.

    Nice to hear from you, and I hope you comment again!

    Claudia

  16. Sully says:

    Hi Claudia,
    I just saw your blog for the first time, on a link from Fred’s new blog.
    I’m looking forward to reading more on your blog. I model as well, but never more than one session in a day. Your ability to pose for many hours is very impressive.

    Sully

    P.S. I love the drawings of you on Fred’s website!

  17. artmodel says:

    Sully,

    Thank you, and welcome! I can’t think of anything better than getting a referral from Fred’s new blog. Feels good.

    Nice to have yet another art model on Museworthy. I’m glad I impress you with my many hours of modeling. My body, however, hates my guts 😆

    I too love Fred’s drawings of me. He does incredible things with line and color.

    Appreciate the comment, and keep visiting!

    Claudia

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