Ahoy Buccaneer

“Are you a real pirate??!!”. That was the adorable question posed to me by one of the kids in Martha Bloom’s Art and Drama class for children ages 5 – 9 at the National Academy. The little girl’s inquiry was perfectly reasonable since I had already changed into my pirate costume :-) Children’s art classes certainly don’t make up the bulk of an art model’s booking schedule, but on the occasions when we do pose for the little ones it’s a welcome departure from the adult classes. No offense grown-ups, but kids are more fun!

Martha Bloom has been fostering the imaginations and creative spirits of New York City’s children for over three decades. Her classes are the starting points for the superb young artists’ education offered at the National Academy. With the help of goodies from the prop closet, Martha set up a makeshift mast for my pirate boat and put a treasure chest at my feet, with a rubber rat crawling out. “Blimey! Thar be a rat in me booty chest! Walk the plank ye little scalawag!!”

As the late afternoon sun streamed into the National Academy’s elegant Stone Room, the children set up their markers, crayons, and papers. Martha took this photo of me during the pose.“Ayyee aye matey! I am a pirate wench!! Give me a bottle o grog and we be swashbucklin’ three sheets to the wind!”


This is Sasha’s drawing:


And this is Eliza’s drawing:


The class Halloween show was just around the corner, and Gemma was assigned the task of designing the invitation. She created this excellent illustration:


We went down to the office and made copies, which came out great. And a poster to go along with them.


At the end of class, when I emerged from behind the changing screen dressed in my street clothes, Gemma exclaimed “You’re NOT a real pirate!!”. I think it was my NY Mets shirt that gave me away :lol:

But Ratty the rubber rat managed to get over to the window of the Stone Room. Unless someone carried him over there … a pirate wench perhaps? Hmm …
The last time I saw him he was taking in the view of East 89th Street, gazing at the Guggenheim:



Sculpture is more divine, and more like Nature,
That fashions all her works in high relief,
And that is Sculpture. This vast ball, the Earth,
Was moulded out of clay, and baked in fire;
Men, women, and all animals that breathe
Are statues, and not paintings.

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Grand Central Atelier, sculpture studio:


To my Museworthy friends – have a splendid few days and let’s meet right back here on Thursday for our annual blog celebration. See you then! :-)

Atelier Days

Hellooo helloooooo!! Museworthy friends, I apologize for the terribly long absence! A Verizon FIOS outage kept me off of my beloved blog for a few days. Phone, TV, and Internet were down since last week but thankfully it was all restored over the weekend. Sunday night I felt too tired to post, Monday I worked a long day of modeling and schlepped around town in raw, rainy weather, and today I’m a touch sick with the usual cold/flu season symptoms. Got the old sandpaper throat. Sandpaper throat stinks, doesn’t it? I’m popping Ricola lemon lozenges like candy :lol:

Anyway, let’s get caught up. First, an official Happy New Year to you all now that we’re two weeks into 2015. Hugs and kisses all around! For me, the new year kicks off with a month-long modeling assignment at Grand Central Atelier. When I last posed there, in the spring, the school was in their original location in midtown Manhattan. Over the summer they moved into their spacious new digs in Long Island City, Queens. And I do mean spacious. Studios everywhere, skylights, plenty of room for artists, models, casts, supplies, storage, and a lovely gallery.

I am the January model for Jacob Collins’ figure class and we’re off to a splendid start. One pose for the month, every morning Monday – Friday. Grand Central is a rigorous four-year program that concentrates on classical training. In just the past week and a half I’ve seen firsthand the discipline and concentration of these dedicated students. It’s quite impressive.

On my first day before we set up the pose, I was handed a black binder that the students thought would be useful. In it was a compendium of images that represent classical art poses typically employed for academic art training. What a nifty reference. Now experienced art models like myself don’t necessarily need such a book, but I enjoyed looking through it. I instantly recognized David, Ingres, and Prud’Hon among others. This kind of compilation is certainly helpful for a newer model in search of ideas and it serves as a handy anthology of the academy tradition. I photographed some pages in the book to share:




All art modeling is not the same. I’ve probably stated this a hundred times on the blog! But it’s true. To some degree, yes, a pose is a pose is a pose. But the settings and environments can be vastly different, which means a professional, experienced art model has to take into consideration what the artists are trying to achieve, what they expect, and how long the pose will be. Some artists really need to see and meticulously render the model’s sternocleidomastoid (yeah, Google that!), while others do not. Showing up at Spring Studio for a Wednesday night short pose session, doing active gestures one after another, is a far different gig from what’s happening this month at Grand Central. This is formal training, and the class is a mixture of 2nd year, 3rd year, and even 4th year students. Some are sticking with drawing for the duration, others are beginning to paint grisaille, while others may do painting with color. One thing is constant: the model’s pose. I posted it on Twitter if you’d like to have a look.

Before I go I’d like to share a deeply heartfelt column written by my good friend Daniel Maidman on the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris last week. Daniel, like me, is a free speech absolutist. I think this is worth a read. On the Huffington Post, this is “Guardians”.

The Return

Aaannnnd . . . we’re back! It’s official. The fall 2013 school years have begun. Yay! Studios are open for business, students are ready to create, models are ready to pose, and instructors are ready to impart their brilliance and expertise ;-)

It felt great to walk into the New York Academy of Art for my first modeling booking there of the new term, John Jacobsmeyer’s printmaking class. The class created ink sketches of my nude figure which they would later make into prints. I’d love to see how they turned out. I may have to find those students and ask if I could take a gander at the final results, as I’m a huge printmaking fan.

Few institutions undergo a transformation as dramatic from first week to end of the year quite like art schools. Summer cleanups are very thorough. New coats of paint brighten things up, supplies are stored neatly away, and everything is scrubbed spotless. When classes begin, the immaculate surroundings transform into smudges, splatters, and spills. Ink, clay, and oil paint start to appear on chairs, stools, and the floor, stacks of rolled up papers and unfinished canvases occupy every corner, fabrics are strewn about, and unidentified sharp objects stick out from various spots. So to models and students alike I say enjoy the tidiness while it lasts, which is about a week!

The New York Academy’s printmaking room, a great space, on day three of the new semester. Not yet sullied from the dirty work of making prints.


Actually, the Academy is one of the least disorderly art schools I’ve seen. It’s a spacious facility with a conscientious staff and student body. The atmosphere is terrific. Great vibes. The Art Students League, on the other hand, is a cluttered mess . At least it was when I worked there years ago.

Did I mention how good it feels to be back at steady work? Yes, I believe I did. Off we go!


Breathing Spell

Yoo hoo! Hello? Does anyone run this blog? Anyone??

Hey gang. Really sorry about the stagnancy. I’m here, I assure you. I hope you all had a wonderful week because mine kind of sucked. Stress, tension, and painful frustration stemming from personal matters, life decisions, and shattered expectations. Anyway, I don’t want to elaborate. All I can do is try to make sense of it all and get my mojo back. I miss my mojo :sad:

On the art modeling front, I’ve reached the annual break in my work schedule that comes in late May. School semesters have ended which means students can say goodbye to teachers and classmates, hang their end-of-year art shows, go through final critiques, and look forward to a well-deserved vacation. The schools will close for a bit and regroup for summer sessions which will be up and running in June. What does all this mean for us art models? It means we get a little break for ourselves. With the exception of one gig at a local art center, I have no jobs booked for two weeks. After all these years of modeling I still haven’t gotten used to the sight of so many consecutive blank spaces in my calendar. It’s weird. So much free time dancing before my eyes, what will I do with myself? Haha.

Edward Hopper, Interior (Model Reading), 1925:


One activity I’d like to do is take a drive up to Woodstock. I haven’t been up that way in quite a while and there’s a farm sanctuary there that I’ve been donating money to for many years. Might be nice to visit and say hello to the animals. And of course, Woodstock is great town in upstate New York with lovely shops and art galleries. There is much to do and see in good old Woodstock.

In the meantime, I’ll be around, being lazy some days and productive on other days. And blogging for sure. So I’ll see you all very soon.

Claudia  xo

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 :lol:

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:


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:


Days in the Atelier

Greetings on a Sunday evening! I hope this blog post finds you well. My most substantial art modeling job of the summer has come to an end – five weeks posing for Robert Armetta’s figure drawing atelier at the Long Island Academy of Fine Art. It was a top-notch experience. These intensive classical drawing sessions never cease to amaze me. As the model who sees and hears all, I can’t help but be impressed by the focus and dedication that goes into that kind of painstaking practice. Gosh those people work hard. Almost as hard as the model ;-)

The primary goal is to train the artist’s eye. Shapes and proportions provide the visual keys to representing the form, and the light reveals those forms. The human body is all forms, after all. Forms of muscle mass and underlying bone, creating relationships and contours, some of which are obvious, others more subtle. Artists in the classical tradition believe that drawing is the crucial foundation of painting, for it is through drawing that one’s ability to perceive forms – and mold those forms – is developed.

Robert and I set up a pose that would offer the class enough variations in forms without being too complicated. Then, with some perfectly angled lighting, we had a figure study that pleased the class very much. I found the pose fairly easy to hold. Maintaining my posture was the challenge, and I felt only minor lower back discomfort toward the end of each four hour session. Believe me, I’ve done much worse! Most of the class worked in charcoal, but some used graphite.

Three of the atelier students agreed, enthusiastically, to let me post their works here on Museworthy and I am happy to do so. The problem with drawings such as these is that the delicate qualities and detailed workmanship are less discernible on computer images than they are in real life. I’m sure you artists out there know how difficult pencil drawings are to photograph. They are best appreciated when viewed in person. But it worked out nicely that I have three images of the pose from three different perspectives.

This is Gerry’s drawing. She was working the closest to me, just a few feet away behind me and to the right. Very beautiful:

Smadar had a front view that presented a lot of foreshortening. She certainly handled it well. I love the light on the shoulder and collarbone:

And here is my friend Daniel’s piece. I really love the way he did the shadow shape on the stomach and front of the torso:

It was gratifying to pose for this atelier class and I hope I have the honor of doing it again. This week another group of artists awaits me – a figure painting workshop at the New York Academy of Art, taught by Maggie Rose. It will be my first time working with Maggie so I’m looking forward to that. Just one more week of art modeling duties and then . . .  can I say it? . . .

v a c a t i o n :-)