Figuring drawing has been a staple of any fine arts programs since man began drawing on cave walls. If you have ever taken traditional fine arts class, odds are you have sat staring at some poor soul in their skivvies, or more likely, nude. Having been the student in this situation many times, I’ve always wondered what it feels like to be on the other side of the easel. Thus the reasoning behind bucket-list item #23, Pose nude/semi-nude for an art class. Last night I finally marked it complete.
A friend of mine is a professor at a local art school and needed some extra models for his classes. He told me that it wasn’t an all nude class, but I should bring form fitting clothings – like bike shorts or jammers. Having swam competitively for nearly 10 years, I still had some old drag suits handy, and I figured standing around in front of people in one wouldn’t be all that awkward.
When I arrived last night though, I felt different. I showed up to a smallish class room, with 15 students, all working in digital. Most of the students had Wacom Tablets and did all their drawing within Photoshop. My friend directed me to the backroom to change into my suit and robe. Walking around in a drag suit with a bunch of other swimmers, not awkward… walking around in a drag suit by yourself in front of a bunch of random people… awkward. I was immediately glad I opted against ‘fully-nude’ when it came time to complete this personal challenge.
We did ten two minute poses, three eight minute, one twenty minute and finished the class with a forty minute pose. The two minute poses were kind of fun, because I didn’t need to worry about holding it for very long, and could strike some more interesting poses. I did a few with a baseball bat, standing around, holding a staff like a sword and ended with the Hulk Hogan pose I used to do before getting on the racing blocks at swim meets.
To the surprise of most new artists and those possibly to those reading this, the teacher doesn’t direct the model during these sessions. When the timer goes off the model has to just move into the next pose. I thought it would be a challenge to think of a new pose each time, but you have at least two very slow minutes to think of the next pose. I was however amazed at how quickly I relaxed and didn’t feel super awkward up on stage with thirty some eyes analyzing my every detail.
A few things I realized during this personal challenge:
- Attempting to hold perfectly still for even two minutes is a challenge. As soon as you strike your pose, some part of your face or body will begin to itch. Its like trying to hold back a cough or sneeze in at Church.
- Being aware of pressure points is important. I did an 8 minute pose with a staff across my shoulders and my arms draped over it. After about 4 minutes into this pose I began I to lose feeling in my left hand.
- The longer the pose, the more balanced it needs to be. I made the mistake of putting almost all of my weight on one leg for a few of the poses and my calves and thighs began locking up on me. I even had this problem in some of the sitting positions.
- The forty minute pose was broken into two 20 minute sessions. I did this one sitting for obvious reasons. After the first 20 minutes, they taped off where my feet were and I could take a break for a few minutes, after which I got back into position… When I sat back down, I thought I was in the exact same pose, but after about 5 minutes it became very apparent something was off. My back started to ache horribly! I wanted to appear professional though, and fought through it. I kept thinking of this story a teacher read to us in elementary school about a Roman soldier who was standing in file with a fox under his shirt – he was starving and planned to eat it later. The fox began to eat at his belly, but he didn’t flinch or break rank… it eventually killed me. I was luckier and survived my torturous pose.
It was an interesting experience. I doubt I’ll do it again unless my buddy is desperate for models one week. I certainly have a lot more respect for the models who do this regularly! It takes a lot more skill and endurance than I expected. I’ve asked him if I could see some of the drawings that came from the session – if any of the students give permission, I’ll post a few here.