Keeping the Quickies

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,Β 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 πŸ˜₯Β 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

26 thoughts on “Keeping the Quickies

  1. Stephanie says:

    Hey Claude,

    It’s been a while since I’ve been able to comment, but I’m always out here reading. I loved this post. There is something so beautiful about these quick sketches that can’t always be found in finished works. There is movement, vitality and personality. I look at them and think, “Yeah! That’s Claudia.” Looking at one of those sheets, it feels like I spent that half hour with you.

    Love,
    Steph

    • artmodel says:

      Stephanie!!

      So wonderful to see a comment from you! Yes, I know you’re always reading. How you manage to keep up regularly with your super busy schedule is a wonder to me! You are the ultimate multitasker.

      I love what you said about the sketches. I totally agree that the quick ones express and communicate things that simply can’t be achieved in a long pose drawing.

      Thanks Steph! Love you and miss you πŸ™‚

      Claudia

  2. I personally prefer short poses, the shorter the better. you mention the utmost awareness and on the spur creativity on the spot for the model- I think it’s also the most alert moment for the artist sketching- when he has to take in as much of the life of the pose, when he is the most intuitive and inventive ( a thrusting mark or a smudge can mean so much) – for him to capture the gesture he almost has to model with the model…for me it’s also a litmus test to see how engaged the model is about modeling- if she’s already doing undynamic and lifeless poses at 3 minutes, her long poses are going to be just useless. Also, because long poses have to be held much longer, models typically choose the most “rested” pose- and I typicaly find them boring. I’ve done dozens of carefully modelled 4 hour long drawings ( some done over days, in class)- and I usually still prefer my 5 minute ones. I’m not interestedin showing labor in my drawings, I’m interested in how much my senses experienced the life in another human being. good drawings, btw. and I have given away sketches to my models if they express interest.
    as for keeping the drawings as mementoes for your old age- I always encourage people to pose when they’re offered the opportunity- they’ll never look as good as they do now, naked or otherwise. Maybe I’ll reblog my post about that on this site. Good post as always.

    • Andrew says:

      Pigmentpondering,
      I hear what you are saying, but I do not think that long poses have to be boring. Sustainability and creativity are not mutually exclusive.

    • artmodel says:

      pigmentpondering,

      You described the experience of short poses so well. Your appreciation of them really comes through. I especially like your point about how short poses demonstrate the true spirit and energy of the model. It is, like you said, kind of a “litmus test”. A non-art model regular person can sit for a long pose and serve as a model, especially for a portrait. But it takes a dedicated, skilled art model to perform a series of exciting and expressive short poses.

      Thank for your comments. I enjoyed reading them!

      Claudia

  3. doug rogers says:

    Refreshing point of view in that ‘Hey! Thats me!’ πŸ™‚ Something I have never thought of before.

  4. Andrew says:

    In the samples you have shown, the motivation for multiple drawings on a page may have simply been to save paper, but a page full of gesture drawings can make a beautiful montage.

    Quick poses sure can be a work out. You are quite a trooper for doing your routine with a sprained ankle — ouch!

    For gestures up to 3 minutes, all kinds of crazy, dynamic poses are possible. For long poses, there is more emphasis on sustainability. I think the duration in between can be the most most challenging. Short is a relative term, and some instructors warm up with 5 or 10 minute poses. A lot things that are quite fun for 1 to 3 minutes can be torture for 5 minutes and impossible for 10 minutes, so the challenge is keep that spontaneous creative energy with a more limited repertoire.

    • artmodel says:

      Andrew,

      You mentioned one of my favorite things about quick poses – how a grouping of them on a page makes such an interesting composition. Why have just one figure on a page when you can have ten? It looks great!

      It took me a little while to learn what I could do for two minutes and what I could hold for five or ten. Even though five is considered a short pose, it can feel pretty long for the model if he/she is in a difficult pose. The difference between the twos and the fives, for us, is fairly significant. It’s those extra three minutes. it sounds like nothing but it’s not!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic Andrew.

      Claudia

  5. Bill says:

    It really depends. These sample quick-pose drawings are beautiful and, yes, some artists do prefer, and may actually do better with, short poses. It’s not about whether the poses are short or long, it’s about whether the artwork is worth saving.

    I totally get what you’re saying — but, when I discard a drawing, it isn’t about disrespecting the model or the effort expended by the model. It’s about my unwillingness to keep a drawing which doesn’t do either the artist or the model justice.

    • artmodel says:

      Bill,

      So that was you at the Art Students League that night!! Ah ha!! Just kidding. πŸ˜†

      Seriously though, I never felt the artists were disrespecting the models when they threw out drawings. In fact, I’m almost certain they have no idea that the models might care about those quickies. A couple of times when I asked an artist if I could have their quick sketches, they looked at me dumbfounded. “You want THESE??” It’s cute in a way because the viewpoints are so different, which I tried to discuss a bit in this post.

      I know what you mean about whether the QUALITY of the work is there, rather than the length of the poses. Great point, Bill. Some quick sketches are just not good, I understand. But I do hope that artists don’t dismiss their quickies right off the bat. If the lines are basically good and the gestures are captured, that’s not bad for quickies I think. And not bad at all by the models’ standards.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

      • Bill says:

        You know, I think you’re right — I don’t think that they meant any disrespect. But I wouldn’t throw the drawings away in front of the model — at the very least, that’s not a good way to motivate people. (See — I’m way too sneaky to be the guy at the Arts Students League πŸ™‚ Besides, sometimes things look better in the morning — so I always bring everything home and look at it the next day.

        I think that we threw out the rulebook in the 19th century, and we’ve been trying to make up new rules ever since. Short poses are bad, long poses are bad, drawings/paintings have to be large or small — you’re right. None of that stuff really matters. It’s ironic that we have all this freedom — and we’re in such a hurry to give it up.

  6. Fred says:

    Great drawings by two artists I know well! Most of the best models shine on quick poses, and the artists who refuse to draw quick poses are missing the best part of the session, in my opinion! Who cares if you can’t do something perfect in one minute – just do the best you can. In quick poses the model is giving heightened energy to the artists – I take it as a great gift!

    • artmodel says:

      Fred,

      I know you’re a quick pose guy. You also work faster than most which must help a lot.
      Thanks for considering the model’s energy as “a great gift”. I, for one, am happy to give it πŸ™‚

      Claudia

  7. Stephen says:

    These are all delightful – Good for you for making this point – this should be conveyed to your artists.
    I am always struck by how hard you work – 3 hour poses are long…

  8. Thom says:

    Oh I love this posting! Interesting the read for a photographer, who LIVES in the moment!! For us and our models it’s all just a few seconds, most of the time. the dance of the models changing poses at the click of the shutter is our world!

    I love that vibrancy of motion, change, and the instant art created before my eyes. Rarely do the poses last more than 5 min. if I want a different Point of View (PoV).

    However this past weekend I shot 2 models at the same time. Here poses were more on the 5 and even 10 min. long as we were doing symmetry of 2 bodies. If you’re interested check out my website in the gallery of “Two or More Art models”

    Thanks for your post, and keep collecting those quick sketches!!

    • artmodel says:

      Thom,

      I didn’t even think of the photographer’s unique perspective on this topic. Thanks for weighing in. Yes, it is all about the fleeting, captured moment. For action, motion, and vivid expression, it’s hard to beat short poses.

      I saw your photos. Very interesting! You work with some great models. Thanks for sharing!

      Claudia

  9. bob palevitz says:

    claudia, my sweet,
    whenever i think of a quickee, you come to mind.
    you are the best.
    i kiss your hand, i bow and slowly back away as
    i leave your presence.
    here is a toast to all our future quickee’s.
    x, bob

    • artmodel says:

      Bob,

      You are one of the last men to still kiss a woman’s hand. Don’t ever stop πŸ˜‰

      I also toast to our future quickies :raises a glass: Thank you, handsome!

      Claudia
      xxoo

  10. I really enjoyed reading this post! I’m a figure model as well, and I have to say that I love doing gesture poses the most, just because it allows me to be more creative than I would if I had to hold these poses for 20 minutes or longer! And it definitely keeps you on your toes since you have to be thinking about your next pose as soon as you get into your current one πŸ™‚

    And I’ve noticed that they’re definitely viewed differently by a lot of artists, at least in the city where I work. I once got an invitation to a new drawing group to model for the whole day. The morning session was all fast-drawing gestures (!) for two hours. Then after ah hour break, the second group would convene for longer poses.

    I think the gesture session had something like two people show up 😦 Yet the afternoon class probably had closer to 20 people show up, so I’ve noticed a definite preference among artists (at least by me) for longer poses.

    • artmodel says:

      Jason,

      Welcome!! Nice to have a fellow art model commenting on Museworthy, on this post especially. I agree that, generally speaking, most artists prefer longer poses. That’s why I totally love the artists who appreciate the short ones. They’re awesome!

      Thanks for commenting, and happy holidays!

      Claudia

      • Ken says:

        I wonder if loving gestures is the one thing that unites all of us models?

        In one class, the instructor saw the students not looking up and they were drawing from memory instead from me. His idea was to make all the poses 15 seconds(!). I suggested random length gestures and he liked that even better. No telling when Ken would change poses – students had to watch! It let me get into the most incredible positions, some of which I could hold (which surprised me), others were really only good for 15 seconds! It certainly got the students to pay attention.

        One thing I’ve started doing is asking the artists if there was a certain posed that they liked and if they could tell me why. I always thought I had a good notion of which poses would be intriguing or challenging. But I learned that the artists sometimes saw things I never thought of. For instance, a simple sitting pose on a stool, hunched over and with my legs crossed. They told me that my hamstrings and gluteous maximus (and others) “popped” out. The muscles were fully contracted. I never thought I could hold a pose with my muscles so tight for so long. It was actually easy. Taught this old dog a new trick!

        So far, my limit seems to be about 30 gestures in a row. I hate repeating poses! But I lose track of what I’ve done. I do “rotate”, so every artist gets the same number of back, side and front pose exposures, so if I do happen to repeat, I hope that they are at least seeing a different perspective…

        All the Best,

        Ken

        • artmodel says:

          Ken,

          That was an excellent idea you had about random length poses for the seconds gestures. I’m going to keep that in mind! And that instructor was correct about making the students look up at the model on a consistent basis. I’ve seen too much of that: students looking down at their paper for too long a length of time. It’s a bad habit to develop, because when they do that they’re actually drawing from *memory* rather than direct observation. Sure it’s only seconds but that’s still a memory of what they saw previously. I’m sure you’ve heard teachers say NOT to attempt to draw the model, or make corrections, when the model isn’t posing. And I also rotate constantly. Especially important when the model stand is set up “in the round”.

          Thanks for commenting and for sharing your experiences as a model!

          Claudia

  11. bob palevitz says:

    miss claudia
    are these quickees the last batch i gave you?
    claudia, claudia, where fore art thou?
    x, bob

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