I remember something that happened at one of my very first art modeling jobs. It was an evening drawing class years ago at the Art Students League. Still a new model trying to prove herself, I was enthusiastic, energetic, and rarin’ to go. I had just completed a set of 20 one minute poses and they were quite good if I do say so myself! I was very pleased with my expressiveness, exuberance, and creativity.
Then came a five minute break. As I belted my robe, I saw an artist tear off from his drawing pad the sheet of his one minute sketches. He then, to my horror, crumpled it up and threw it in the garbage!!! I didn’t say it out loud, but I thought, “HEY!!! What are you doing??? Those are my quick poses on there!!!! Are you crazy? How dare you!! Jerk.”
It was then that I started to realize that artists and models regard the short poses very differently. To artists they are merely warm-ups to loosen the hand and prepare for longer poses later in the session. Lasting for just one, two, or maybe five minutes, they are brief, trivial, and apparently disposable 😥 It’s as if anything under 20 minutes doesn’t even count as far as artists are concerned. Some artists simply detest short poses and won’t even do them at all. But to models, the quick poses are our blood, sweat, and tears. Our moment to shine and show off. We have to be alert, imaginative, and on top of our game for the entire set. And unlike long poses we can’t just space out and drift off in a daydream as we hold one continuous pose. We have to “change”, “change”, “change”, one after another after another, on the spur-of-the-moment, with barely any time to plan the next one. The results on the page are as abstract and spontaneous as they are on the platform. And that is what’s so cool about them in my opinion.
A good model mixes it up during the quick sets. Diversity is key. I make a conscious effort to vary the angles, present different forms and shapes, alternate between vertical and horizontal, forward bends and backward bends. We are using our entire body and showing the group who we are, what we can do, and transmitting our energy, spirit, and dedication across the room. I’ve done quick poses with a head cold, a sprained ankle, a pulled abdominal, and even in the recovery stage of the flu. Under those circumstances, doing fast poses is real work. Real, honest-to-goodness WORK.
Here is a page of my quick poses sketched by Bob Palevitz at Spring Studio just the other day. I admired them during a break and Bob, awesome guy that he is, gave them to me 🙂
Another page from Bob. I believe these were two minute poses. Look at these little beauties. Now do these belong in a garbage can? I think not!
Some artists save everything, and that’s great. But to the artists who would otherwise throw away their quick practice sketches I suggest offering them to the model. You’d be surprised how many will accept! Remember, that’s our movement on the page. Our gestures, our stamina, our vitality and vigor. I have a collection of sketches I’ve accumulated over the years and I will never throw them out.
These fast sketches were done by Elliott Lloyd at Figureworks Gallery last Saturday and he also generously let me take them home. Some day, when I’m 80 years old, arthritic, brittle, and hunched over, I will look at these drawings and remember fondly the days when I was fit and flexible, and could extend my body like that (see pose on right) and crouch on my toes with my heels off the ground (see pose on left). Then I’ll probably burst into tears as I lament the loss of my physical agility!
More sketches by Elliott that will comfort me in my old age and remind me of my art modeling “glory days”. Up on my toes, leaning on my elbow, twisting and gesturing. Do you see now the value in these drawings for the models? They record our movement for posterity. (This didn’t photograph well but I tried to adjust it in iPhoto so you can see the lines clearer. It’s a very light sketch in real life)
A few more from Bob Palevitz. Again, they’re lovely. Not quite quick poses, but three fives. So keep in mind that models don’t consider the short poses “lesser” than the long poses. If anything, they are “our show”- when we are calling the shots on the artists instead of the artists calling the shots on us, i.e. “setting up” a long three hour pose. With the quickies, you will take what we give you and you will like it! I will always love the quick poses. Those minutes are mine 🙂