Figure al Fresco

It was an unseasonably warm day – at first – until the gusty autumn winds began to blow, temperatures began to drop, and a blanket of rain clouds drifted ominously across the harbor, threatening to strike. None of it would thwart our two hours of drawing outdoors at the water’s edge in lower Manhattan. The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy hosts free drawing sessions in the South Cove called “Figure al Fresco”. A clothed model takes five, ten, and twenty minute poses, and the Parks Conservancy provides drawing materials and instruction for anyone who needs it.

I posed for this group over the summer and was delighted to pose for them again last week on the final session of the season before it goes on winter hiatus. The number of attendees is larger than you might expect. I counted thirty artists at one point, all of whom were in remarkably cheerful spirits. They initiated conversations with me on breaks, complimented my modeling, and expressed concern that I might be too cold.  Actually I was a little chilly, but I never told them that 😉

Taking pictures on my breaks took my mind off the blustery winds. I fell in love with these glowing blue lanterns along the promenade:



Outdoor modeling naturally brings a special set of circumstances and observations, such as curious passersby, some of whom stop to watch for a few minutes. Those who popped out their phones in an attempt to take a picture were politely admonished by a Parks Conservancy staff member. There’s also sashaying pigeons, darting squirrels, youngsters on scooters and skateboards, bicyclists, and fitness freaks running by, tuned out from their surroundings with iPod earbuds securely in place.

My modeling spot at the base of the steps. Cushiony gym mats, bench, and my well-worn purple modeling bag that I’ve had forever. The trees, displaying gorgeous fall gold color, sent down a flurry of  leaves with the winds. I held steady in my pose as they fell around me .. and on me!


A pair of ducks, just relaxing and listening to the lapping water, not interested in my poses at all. How dare they ignore me! 😆


Getting up to stretch on a break:


I began my posing wearing shorts and a tank top, wanting to give them as much “figure” as possible for the Figure al Fresco. It was a valiant effort for the first two sets, but then the nippy air won out and I put on leggings. I brought a colorful shawl which also provided some warmth and serves as a nice modeling accessory that adds more shapes and lines.

More of those great blue lanterns, and New Jersey across the river:


And some more beautiful fall color:


For now, I bid farewell to Battery Park and Figure al Fresco. I look forward to modeling again for this lovely group and working with the terrific staff, come springtime.


12 thoughts on “Figure al Fresco

  1. Kelly Borsheim says:

    How great was that! Lucky artists! Thank you for sharing. Cheers, Kelly

    Kelly Borsheim: sculptor, painter, writer, and instructor

    The Art: ArtNews: The blog: E-mail: Tel. (+39) 334.245.0129 [Florence, Italy]

    The book [available around the globe via Amazon]: “My Life as a Street Painter in Florence, Italy”

  2. Alan Appel says:

    Probably the windiest spot on Manhattan island. Bravo!!!

  3. Andrew says:

    You had some beautiful autumn colors in the background. Looks like at least one person was painting–I see brushes and paint on the table in the foreground of the 5th photo.

    • artmodel says:


      Yes there were a couple of painters among the group, good observation. And the rest a mix of charcoal, pastels, and some pen sketchers.

      Thanks for your comments!


  4. Stephen says:

    I am continuously amazed at what a beautiful place you live in. Though I do suspect the eye of the beholder has a lot to do with this. I am particularly enjoying your mud flats offer and am going there now. Thanks for modelling for all of the artists there. You are precious.

    • artmodel says:


      Thank you, you’re so sweet! Our city does have many beautiful spots, and plenty of not-so-beautiful spots. I’m glad you’re enjoying The Salt Marsh blog!

      Good to hear from you.


  5. Dave says:


    I envy you as I’ve never had the chance to pose outside. It looks like it would be a lot of fun so long as the weather is decent and the bugs aren’t biting.


    • artmodel says:


      I hope you do have an opportunity to pose outside at some point. It’s a nice little change from the confined, musty art studios. And yes we were bug-free at Battery Park!

      Thanks for commenting.


  6. patgaig says:

    How interesting to read about this from “the other side”. I was there that day and I see a sliver of myself in one of your photos. I bet this is you:

    • artmodel says:


      That’s totally me!! 100%. Very cool! So glad you found my blog post. I’ll be there again in August and September. Figure al Fresco is a really enjoyable gig for the models.

      Thanks so much for commenting and sharing the link!


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