Sunday, July 22, 2012

Adventures in Modelling, Part II

In the few figure drawing classes I'd attended back in the day, the model did about a zillion poses ranging from thirty seconds in length to maybe ten minutes - the idea was that you had to draw the person fast, before they changed position, and this forced you to develop an eye for proportion and gesture.  With a thirty-second pose, there was no time to get all fiddly over details; you just scribbled down the shape of their body as best you could.  Classes like these happened one or two nights a week for six or eight weeks.

The class I just modelled for was different.  It was an intensive week-long course where each student would end up with just one super-detailed drawing; my job was to sit in the exact same position the entire time. This is definitely not most people's idea of a good time, but I thought it sounded great!  You guys, I spend like half my life sitting around naked!  Nobody is better prepared for this job than I am!

Witness my intensive at-home training regime!
But seriously, I have an insane competitive streak and a flare for self-discipline, so I was totally looking forward to the challenge of holding perfectly still.  I would be the most motionless art model ever.  I'd be like a statue!  A squishy, sweaty statue!

On Monday afternoon I showed up to the classroom a bit early, as instructor John Viljoen had requested, so we could decide on a pose before the students got there - something that I felt I could maintain for long periods without getting sore.  I decided to just sit in the chair with my feet planted on the floor, my hands resting on my thighs, and my head more-or-less facing forward.  John marked off where my feet would go and I tried my best to memorize the exact position of my head, back, and hands so my pose would be as consistent as possible.

Then I changed out of my street clothes and into a robe, and waited for my cue.

Like I said before, figure drawing classes are very analytical...the artists tend to think of the body as just a collection of curves and angles to draw, same as anything else.  I sat on my pedestal and tried to think of myself as a bowl of fruit or a Ming vase instead of a publicly naked person.  It didn't take too long to get used to it.

Holding the pose was just as fun and challenging as I thought it would was interesting to me to play around inside my head and think of different ways of keeping still and relaxed.  Mostly I imagined that my body didn't exist anymore, or was made of rock or wood or metal, and let my mind wander.  During the second or third posing session on Day One (John gave me breaks every twenty minutes or so) I actually fell asleep for a few minutes with my eyes open - I'd been so nervous the night before that I hadn't slept very well.

Thankfully, I did not twitch or drool.

Here are some other selected moments from my week of posing:

Sometimes during the breaks I'd wander around checking out people's work.

TWO different students told me this! Squeeeeeeee!!!!!!

On Wednesday or Thursday the temperature outside hit 37 degrees celsius.
John always made sure I was comfortable, every step of the way.  I couldn't have asked for a better experience!

I never once asked to take a break early (although I could have; John was very clear that I could cry "uncle" at any time), because staying completely motionless until told to move was the name of the game, and I was out to win.  The occasional stiffness and pain became something to fight and conquer - it was a way of keeping things interesting.  If posing were easy, it'd be boring.

And you guys!  At the end of the week, I had become art!

And also?  I got my first paycheque in about fifteen months!

And that's the story of my first gig as an art model.  I never thought I'd stumble across a whole new career path this late in life - something I love and feel like I'm really good at - but there you have it!  Turns out I'm a total prodigy at holding really really still. :D

Now: everyone go check out John's website!  Especially his incredible portraits!  Awesome, right?


A week from now - Sunday, July 29th - I'm gonna be selling original paintings, greeting cards, and other quirky artsy goodies in Kensington Market as part of their Pedestrian Sundays event. I'll be on Augusta Avenue between Dundas Street West and Wales Avenue.  If you're in Toronto, you should totally come!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Adventures in Modelling, Part I

If you've been reading this blog on a regular basis, you are no doubt aware that I quit a stable, steady, full-time office job over a year ago and have been living off my savings (and a slow trickle of money from selling my art) ever since.  I've been talking about finding a new job for a while - something part-time, so I still have lots of time to paint - but I hadn't really found anything I thought I'd like.  I still have enough savings left that I can afford to be picky, so I've been taking my time trying to figure out what I really want to do.

And then about two months ago it hit me: I should totally model for figure drawing classes!

Why in the hell - you may ask - would someone with shyness and anxiety issues ever voluntarily be naked in a room full of people?

Well, here's the thing about figure drawing classes: they're not about judging the model's body, just seeing it - analyzing the body's curves and angles and light and shadow so you can accurately capture its form on paper.  I've taken a few of these classes in my day and the models were very much presented as "here is a human body for you to draw" (not "hey look, everyone!  It's a naked person!  WOOOOOO!!!!!") and the models were just regular people of all shapes and sizes.  And there are always a lot of rules to make sure the models feel respected and safe, like you have to refer to body parts by their official names ("breasts," not "funbags") and nobody but the instructor is allowed to speak to the model while they're posing.  So yeah, people would be looking at me, but they'd be on their very best behaviour and I wouldn't have to interact with them unless I felt like it.  Try getting that in a retail job!  

Plus, I love that I'd be helping people to understand human anatomy, just like The Boy (and all those figure models from days of yore) did for me; it feels like good karma.  And it would be so great for my work life and life-life to finally be aligned - everything dedicated to art.  No more awkward balancing act of Real Me vs. Corporate Me.

So, my decision was made: I would pursue part-time work as an artists' model.  I would pursue the fuck out of it.  I emailed pretty much every art school within commuting distance of my house and said I was available to model if they needed someone (I didn't tell you guys at the time because I wanted to wait until something actually happened) and, long story short, someone finally replied!  I just finished a week-long modelling job!  And...I really, really liked it!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Some recent paintings.

I've finished a couple of paintings over the last month or two, and I just realized I forgot to post 'em here.  So, strap yourself in and prepare for some eye candy!

I thought I'd let you guys have a rare look at a work in progress.  I feel weirdly exposed showing you a raw half-finished painting, but it's also kind of cool to see all that semi-realistic detail fading away to solid blocks of colour.  Or at least, I think it's cool.  Maybe you will, too.

So anyway, here's a picture I took midway through my most recent painting - a shark/merman/businessman type guy that I finished mere hours ago.

I'm sure you're probably heartbroken by the lack of abdominal muscles.  Don't worry, he gets them eventually!  Tons and tons of them, actually.  I just saved them for last because they're my favourite bit to paint.  It's like the dude's face, arms and tail are my "veggies" and once I've finished those, I get to reward myself with a big ol' sixpack of "dessert."

Yeah, that's right, I'm objectifying this hot corporate merman.  I'm objectifying the shit out of him.  And I won't apologize. :D

And here he is all finished up, abs and all.  Plus I added a tie.  It amuses me to imagine that a) the ocean floor has office buildings and b) the mer-people working in these buildings go about their business naked except for one small concession to professionalism like a tie or maybe a wristwatch.

Here's a painting of a different kind of ocean humanoid, finished a little over a week ago.  I got to wondering why mermaids are always part fish rather than some other sea creature, and it suddenly struck me that a jellyfish "bell" looks kind of like those gothic lolita tutus the kids wear.  And so I painted this:

Funny story: when The Boy was taking reference photos of me for this one, he felt that I was being too stiff (that would be because I hate having my picture taken).  "You're a jellyfish!" he yelled at me.  "Swirl!  Swirl!"  So there are like forty pictures of me standing in the front hall in a corset while flailing my arms around over my head.  After all of that, I still ended up going with the pose I'd first pictured in my head - a sort of ballerina-ish "look at my pretty skirt" pose - but the version The Boy took after all the flailing did look much more relaxed and naural than the initial attempt, so all that swirling must have helped.

And finally, here's something completely different: Star Trek fan art!  I finished Pin-Up Spock ages ago and posted him on my Facebook page but totally forgot to show him off here on my blog:

I think my favourite part of this painting is the subtle little glimpse of Vulcan nutsack.  Either that, or the fact that I bulked up the arms and legs a tad from the original photo (which The Boy posed for) because I don't envision Spock being quite that slender.  Yeah, you read that right: The Boy is even thinner, somehow, than what you see here.  I'm gonna start calling him my Trophy Waif. 

FYI I was going to add the caption "This undergarment is highly illogical" to this painting but there wasn't room.  That's totally what this painting is about, though: sexy almost-naked Spock going "WTF?  This g-string gives me neither coverage nor support."

So...who wants me to paint the back view? :D

Oh, also, a few days ago I finished a painting of post-apocalyptic monsters falling in love.  But I haven't taken any pictures of that one yet so I'll save it for next time.

I hope you guys liked these paintings!  I'm actually hoping to make the Spock one part of a series...preferably a series of four, so I can easily convert it into sets of magnets or postcards.  But what should the other three paintings be?  More Spock?  Or each a different hot young Star Trek dude?  Tell me what you think in the comments, you lustful nerdlings, you!