Glory to the Figure

In case I wasn’t clear enough in my previous post about preferring figure modeling to portrait modeling, I have some images that might express it more effectively than any words. I had written about the frustration I sometimes feel when I’m confined to sitting in a chair, clothed, when my natural impulse is to pose with my entire body and demonstrate a wider range of movement. From shoulders to hips, from head to feet, from arms to legs, the human figure is ready, willing, and able to show off its “intelligent design”. We can twist and turn, rotate and swivel, extend and contract, balance and shift our weight around, and put on a glorious show that merges both our physicality and our humanity. Muscles allow us to move, bones hold us together, and the whole sublime package provides a timeless source of inspiration to artists throughout history.

Mark Tennant is one of those artists. Recently, I had the great pleasure of posing for him privately. Mark has drawn me many times at Spring Studio, and I have modeled for his class at the New York Academy of Art. Our private collaboration was a marvelous extension of our professional relationship. Mark was kind enough to send along these images of our session together. You can follow Mark’s progress on these and his other works on his Facebook page. Long live the figure!

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20 thoughts on “Glory to the Figure

  1. danielh1966 says:

    Beautiful paintings, and great poses too. I feel the same way you do; I would much rather be posing with my whole body than be in a chair confined to clothes. I was just asked to portrait model again next week. I took the booking, but I’m hoping I can talk the instructor into a few figure poses as well (it is a four-hour class, after all). Maybe I’ll wear my t-shirt that says “I’d rather be naked” that day…

    • artmodel says:

      danielh1966,

      You have to wear the t-shirt! That would be so awesome :lol:
      if you can convince the instructor and the class to do some warm-up figure poses that would be an impressive coup. Portrait people tend to be very fixed in their portrait mindset. But good luck!

      Thanks for your comments.

      Claudia

      • Bill says:

        Please, no — often I’ve gone to a long pose session, happy that I have a good length of time to screw up but still maybe rescue something, and somebody utters the dreaded phrase “few warm-up poses.” The “warm-up” poses somehow never seem to relate to the main pose anyway. The minutes tick by. I’m going nuts. “I’m not a starting pitcher — what exactly am I warming up?” I’m there, I’m ready, I’m plenty warm, thank you — it’s July. They’re trying to steal my time! (Have I mentioned that I’m a little paranoid? :-)
        But I did once go to a 2 1/2 hour session where they did 45 minutes of “warm-ups” — and then announced a break. Never went back.

        • danielh1966 says:

          Bill, this is a for credit class at a private college, not an open drop-in session. So everything from the number and type of poses to the length of those poses is all solely up to the instructor. And chances are, I’ll be wearing my “I’d Rather Be Naked” shirt anyway. I bought it to wear to and from figure drawing classes, and I have a figure session earlier that day.

          • Bill says:

            Understood. My purpose was to comment (okay, vent) on a common practice that drives me a little crazy — I’m sorry if it came across as making a comment on your particular situation (which, after re-reading, I suppose it did). It’s just that I don’t understand why people who feel the need to warm-up couldn’t simply sketch from the pose of the day. They would learn something about the pose in the process — and everyone else could start without delay.
            But you’re right — it is a very different situation from yours.
            P.S. And yes, it does sound like a great t-shirt :-)

            • artmodel says:

              Bill,

              Fred Hatt monitors the long pose session Monday morning at Spring Studio. He changed just the first 20 minutes to quick warm-ups. The long pose is then set up for the next 3 hrs. For people who have their heart set on a long pose the warm-ups shouldn’t last longer than one set. You’re right that anything longer starts to encroach on the long pose time.

              Yet even in Fred’s session I know a couple of the regulars aren’t fond of the quick poses. But overall things carry on pretty smoothly.

              Claudia

              • Bill says:

                “Pretty smoothly” is actually pretty good. Anytime you have more than one artist in the room at once, you’re going to have a difference of opinion — but people generally have to realize that it’s a group situation, that other people may have different needs/opinions, and that people have to compromise and/or adapt. (Of course, then they complain on other people’s blogs . . . :-)
                I think that the key, though, is a good monitor — and it sounds like they have one. (I’ve seen Fred Hatt’s work — he obviously knows what he’s doing.)

  2. Andrew says:

    When people refer to one’s expression, they’re usually referring to a facial expression, but the art you’ve posted are wonderful examples of the expressiveness of the human body. Additionally, I think the nude figure is more universally relatable with the viewer, compared to a portrait of a stranger.

    • artmodel says:

      So well said, Andrew. Indeed, the face is expressive. No question about that. But the expressive qualities of the body are uniquely powerful. Glad you like Mark’s paintings :-)

      Thanks for commenting!

      Claudia

  3. Bryan says:

    Beautiful poses and wonderful paintings. You describe the difference between portrait painting and figure painting well. From an artist’s perspective, I find that there’s an energy in figure that dissipates slightly with portraits.

    • artmodel says:

      Bryan,

      Great to hear from you. You nailed it by mentioning “energy”. And I can tell you from the model’s perspective that the energy dissipates for us as well when we have to sit for hours of portrait.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Claudia

  4. derek says:

    Those are beautiful and eloquent poses you do I must say. I wish I could be there to illustrate you but since I live many miles away I am not able to travel. I always enjoy your stories especially when I have my own bad days or even good days. Anyway. I just wanted to say that you are doing a great job and what a beautiful model you turn out to be and very inspirational to a number of artist on a creative level.

    I have always suggested that you should write a book given all the information you have given and you have enough material to make it into a book. and may I say you have a beautiful body based on what I have seen and I say it with great respects. I notice the muscle tone you have gained. Those inclined poses are so poetically beautiful did that pose from a statue influenced you since it has become your most famous trademark. and you still look lovely with that amazing shape and pose. Keep up the good work luv.

    Derek

    • artmodel says:

      derek,

      Reclining poses are quite popular. Artists enjoy them and the horizontal lines are visually pleasing. I like doing them.

      You are a strong advocate of the book idea, and I must confess that it’s largely because of you that the idea still lives on in my head! It would be a lot of work, but we’ll see.

      Thanks so much for your generous comments!

      Claudia

      • derek says:

        Thank you for that and if you do decide to write a book dedicate that to one person instead of me and that is your lovely mum Elaine ,and she also suggested that one too.in a previous post. Without her, you would not be here in this planet. She has been your rock of gibraltar . Never forget that.
        Elaine if you are reading this you did a great job creating and raising her as a great mumu that you are this lovely swan who is now a grown young woman and be there for her during good and bad times. God bless you both.

  5. peter howard says:

    English man here – wow stunning!

  6. Jennifer says:

    Yes, I can appreciate that you would rather be fully immersed in a pose, using your whole body. Lovely images :)

  7. Bob Hicks says:

    How long did you have to hold your arms in the air in the pose with your arms extended.? It just goes to show that figure models have to be physically fit.

    • artmodel says:

      Bob,

      Yes we do, but Mark took photographs of the poses. The one you mentioned with the arms raised is nearly impossible to hold for long lengths of time. I’m good, but I’m not that good! :lol:

      Thanks for commenting.

      Claudia

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