Bones, Flesh, and Harmony

Those who participate in typical life drawing classes do not generally obsess about things like the latissimus dorsi (back muscle) or the anterior superior spine (bone in the pelvis). Artistic anatomy classes, which are required in most graduate art programs, involve intensive, meticulous study of the musculature and skeletal structure of the human body. The MFA students at the New York Academy of Art are fortunate to have a superb instructor like Robert Armetta, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with for some time now.

Posing for anatomy is a different experience for the model as well. While students make good use of classroom skeletons and écorché casts for bone and muscle observation, the model is there to exhibit, and sometimes actively demonstrate, those same bones, muscles, and connectors as they appear in a living, breathing life subject. We’re often asked by instructors to flex, twist, rotate, or create resistance so as to emphasize a particular muscle or bony landmark. For the long pose, students will draw on their paper the model as skeleton alongside the full figure. Teachers and students alike benefit greatly when their anatomy model is a seasoned professional, one who is comfortable being pointed at at close range, and who doesn’t cringe when the term “fatty tissue” is uttered during a demo. Fatty tissue???? NOOOOOO!!!!! Just kidding 😆

Here I am in Robert’s class posing alongside my anatomy buddies – écorché cast on the far left for muscles, skeleton (who lost his head!) in the middle for bones, and the sum total of it all, yours truly, with bones, muscles, skin, a messy hair bun, the whole shebang:

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It was a marvelous experience posing for this class of first year students at the Academy. The focus and dedication they displayed was impressive, and I was honored to be their model over the past several weeks. They’re well on their way. Keep up the good work guys!

Lovely drawing from the class by Chusit Wijarnjoragij:

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16 thoughts on “Bones, Flesh, and Harmony

  1. cauartprof says:

    Hello Claudia,
    For those of us that follow your blog from the artist’s side of the fence, rather than the muse’s side, we often spout platitudes about being appreciative of all types of beauty from the rotund to the emaciated, and it is enlightening and important to draw from a range of models. However, truth be told, we also get very motivated when we get models where WE CAN ACTUALLY SEE what is going on with the anatomy of flesh and bone. We have a model named Michael in the Atlanta area who is known all over town for his clearly defined anatomy. The classes are always full when people know he is going to be on the stand. For anatomy buffs it is great to be able to recognize the intricacies of the trapezius!

    What a treat for those Academy students to have not only you there, but the skeletal reference, the e’corche’ cast and Mr. Armetta breaking it all down! Sounds like heaven to me. I have a former student currently studying printmaking at the Academy. I hope she is taking advantage of muse and instructor inspiration! Thanks for the post.
    Chris

    • artmodel says:

      Chris,

      I really enjoyed your comments, thank you! It’s true that while a physical variety of models is great, anatomy study is best with models who are fit, lean, and clearly articulated. Michael sounds terrific.

      Always a pleasure reading your feedback!

      Claudia

  2. Bob Hicks says:

    My wife and I took a retired MD/artist’s arttistic anantomy class at the Atlanta College of Art in the early 70’s. We had a female model (among others) who stood 4′ 10″, but was perfectly proportioned. Dr. Billings would sometimes (with the moderl’s permission) for instance draw an outline of a shoulder blade with charcoal on the model’s back. My wife especially excelled drawing the male models. You’re right,. It was a real learning experience! Unfortunately, we live up in the mountains now among people who frown on “nekkid”models. Being able to go to New York and take one of the classes in which you’re posing would be a real treat

    • artmodel says:

      Bob,

      I, too, have been drawn on by anatomy instructors! Like Dr. Billings, one guy at the Art Students League used to make charcoal marks on me. Models of course have the right to say no to that practice but I was okay with it.

      I hope someday you and your wife have the opportunity to take another anatomy class and work from a live model. Maybe get something going up in those mountains, community attitude be dammed! 😉

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  3. Claudia, I love the photo of you alongside the skeleton and the ecorche cast. And the artist’s name, Wijarnjoragij, almost inspires me to learn how to pronounce it properly, as I did with the name of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull!

    • artmodel says:

      Fred, thanks! The next time I see Chusit at the Academy I’m going to ask him how to pronounce his last name. I’m very impressed that you mastered the Icelandic volcano!

      Great seeing you on Saturday 🙂

      Claudia

  4. Jennifer says:

    Sounds an excellent and challenging class!

  5. Peter Howard says:

    Hi there, Have to say you look the healthiest of the three models and the one next to you needs a good feed! Seriously, a great pose, great lighting, great model. Pete xDate: Tue, 19 Mar 2013 19:58:46 +0000 To: petelatics@hotmail.com

    • artmodel says:

      Peter,

      I think I look a bit TOO healthy if you know what I mean 😆 I’m usually thinner, but much like animals in the wild, I gain a few insulating pounds during the winter months.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Claudia

  6. derek says:

    Its been a while since I was in the site. I recently celebrated my 64th birthday in Sydney and survived cancer. Thank Goodness I have my children and grandchildren given me support in trying times.

    Now back to the illustration from that young man. I thought it captured the grace the beauty and soul of a young woman and what the Gods have created. I used to do a portrait about 42 years ago with a model name Allison who is probably now in her 70’s. that was in art college in Cambridge, England You reminded me of her with the classical pose you did behind your back along with the skeleton and you look awesome with a healthy physique and you do have great strong back and glutes. You must take care of yourself from all that workout you do and eating healthy as well. And the young man who illustrated you did a great job on you and the study of the bones and muscles. I especially love the hair up it makes you look more girly and like a ballerina type and spiritual. It would look great too with a cross necklace that would look even greater but other than that you did a great job kid.So simple and you make it look so easy. I also love the reclining poses.

    I read the October 2007 blog of “Thin Is In”, very blunt and very honest and a little bit funny as well. I don’t see anything that thin I see a healthy woman, and you represent the epidomy of health. I am not going to make any judgements. I learned that from my ex who is Peta’s mum. I also have great respects for Elaine for being a fine artist that she is and is a creative soul and she has a vision like creative artists are . and your brother another creative soul he must have an ear for music I bet god bless him and your dad Ed, also a great talent who is probably in the heavens making music.I also see a beautiful and talented woman who is a great brain in your knowledge for the arts and educating us. I love the David blog you did that was enjoyable. I assume you taught art history when you were an educator correct me if I am wring since you did came from a family of talented artists. Anyway I still like you. I hope I am not boring you taking about it.

    Peta is in London right now and wishes you and your lovely mum the best .

    Derek

    • Elaine Hajian says:

      Derek, Happy Birthday and what wonderful news about your health.
      Thank you so much for the kind words not only for my daughter Claudia, but for me as well. My greatest joy in my life is the love and support from my daughter and son Chris. I’m sure you feel the same.
      My best to Peta. Take care and be well.
      Regards from New York City.
      Elaine

      • derek says:

        Why thank you Elaine
        I always think of you like a mentor when it comes to being a parent since we both love our children we are also proud of their successes in life. Peta like Claudia is an art model as well as a student in which she studies literature she is think of writing a children’s book she is only 22. Both how time flies and my other children are in teaching in colleges and schools.
        I checked out your son Chris he is one hell of a talent as a composer for film and TV scores what a resume. and Claudia what a brain of an educator who also turned out to be a talented and great muse and inspiration for a number of artists. She must be very popular. I always think that you should put your art to a gallery I don’t know if you have in the past but yI always picture doing that. Your daughter looks lovely in that picture and you did a great job creating her.

        God bless you from Australia
        Derek

    • artmodel says:

      Derek,

      It is absolutely wonderful to hear from you and know that you’re doing well. Huge congratulations on beating your illness. God bless you friend. Your courage, sensitivity, and spirit is inspiring.

      I knew you would appreciate Chusit’s drawing. It really stood out among the class work. He also did a painting of me about a year ago. Very talented young artist.

      You brought tears to my eyes with your mention of my late father. Thank you for that. And thank you for all your warm, generous comments about me, my work, and my family.

      Thanks, as always, for bringing your thoughtful voice to this blog 🙂

      Claudia

  7. Jen says:

    Hi there, I was brought here being a student in the midst of finishing artistic anatomy class, with more to come next semester. I truly enjoy the meticulous study of anatomy offered by this type of classes which is very different from your typical life drawing class. And as per the comments, it does help greatly if the models for these classes are relatively fit as to see more delineation on the body. That said, I have come to appreciated the work you art models do for us. It wouldn’t be close to a fraction of what we would get out of the class without a live model. Your unique profession provides such an essential and amazing aspect for learning.

    In observing and studying the models in my class, your comments about being pointed at close range and and not cringing when body parts are being discussed truly comes to mind. Your post has helped me to realize even more so the kind of work that you models do. Specially when it comes to these types of anatomy classes since the level of study on the model’s body is a lot more involved and exacting than other figure drawing classes. I have come to truly admire how brave art models like yourself are for presenting yourself for study before a class, which is something I nor most people for that matter could never do. My hat’s off to you models for being able to do what you do and help countless students (like myself) learn.

    • artmodel says:

      Jen,

      From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU. I’m sincerely touched by your comments, and the appreciation for us art models that you articulated so well. Deep down we know that the artists respect what we do, but still it’s always nice to hear!

      And for what it’s worth, I have great respect for the artists and the dedicated practice they put into figure drawing. because I sure can’t do it! But I can do the posing instead 😉

      Again, thank you so much for taking the time to post such generous comments.

      Claudia

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