The clock on the wall has lost its second hand; well it’s still in the clock it’s just laying at the bottom inside the glass. My eyes are fixed there, watching, waiting for the minute hand to click again; making its way to the top of the hour so I can take a break. I have been standing here in this same position, my arms over and just behind my head, my upper torso turned 25% to the right from where my legs are planted. I can feel a droplet of perspiration roll down my spine, and it tickles. No, I am not in some torture chamber in middle Europe, I am actually at an Art school in Minneapolis, and I am a nude figure model and I have been standing here for twenty minutes. When the minute hand finally lands on the twelve I slowly lower my arms, letting the blood rush back in past my armpits, they ache just a bit now. I step down from the model stand and don my robe then saunter off to my little closet where I take a few minutes to relax.
This is how my night goes; I stand there for anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes before breaking for a few minutes, it’s harder than most people might think especially if you are in any sort of active pose. It’s sort of expected that if you are a male model that you do more standing poses. They tend to allow for more dynamic images, and female models seem to be able to pull off the reclining ones better, it just looks more natural for the rendering, this may seem like a chauvinist statement but when you are studying art, especially classical paintings that is the norm and the models try and emulate the poses in that manner. I try and think like an artist and consider myself an artist so when I am posing I tend to attempt an image that I might find interesting and challenging to render. And it seems to pay off as I tend to get quite a few compliments to that affect. I’ve even found that there are quite a few artists that have followed me from co-op to co-op because they like my style. I find that to be a nice compliment, sometimes awkward, but certainly a compliment.
It’s an interesting dynamic between the artist and the model in most cases, with maturity there comes an understanding of the relationship; the separation of any sexual aspect of the models presence and in most cases their being an accepted and respected part of the artistic process. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been issues, in fact there are many rules set in place inside colleges and universities to protect the models as well as the students and teachers. It is commonly forbidden for any student to directly address the model when on the model stand, or touch in any way the model stand, and this goes both ways. And cell-phones or cameras are never to be used in the presence of the model. There are often times new students that get to a school whom find they can’t help but to comment and act inappropriately, at which point the model can and has stepped down and refused to work until those elements are excused from the space. It is a vulnerable place for a model of either gender to be poised completely naked in front of a room of individuals, a very traditional part of the art academia, but nonetheless vulnerable and calls for all involved to be respectful of all others.
Co-ops are different unless they are on site at colleges or universities. Off-site art houses, cooperatives, artist studios are completely different and have all their own rules and sometimes issues as well. Though these are usually much more relaxed environments, and relationships between the models and artists can be much closer. There is still vulnerability present and a level of respect required by the artists; there are many artists whom don’t seem to appreciate the work that the model puts into their craft, in the 1970’s there was a stigma placed on the models, they seemed like people that hadn’t any careers, jobs or maybe they were transients even. But that is not the truth in most cases today, these are usually artists themselves, some are retired, others are students. I myself have a full time career. I enjoy the process, the company of the artists and the quiet, self-reflection that takes place while I model; it’s very much akin to meditation and it feels like yoga to me. The more active the pose, the harder certain muscle groups work and I have found over the years that I have had to realize and concentrate on utilizing both positive and negative muscle groups to keep me from collapsing in a heap of exhaustion after a half hour of standing in a specific position. (to be cont…)