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!