Friday, March 5, 2010
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
I really like how the figure in this drawing seems to be floating in space, or underwater, even, (perhaps enhanced by the color of the paper). (CLICK ON IT to view LARGER).
What I really enjoyed about doing this drawing was that there wasn't any time pressure... it was a series of 20 minute poses by the model on a Sunday afternoon, and there was no urgency to get it done before time ran out, (as there often is in drawing classes or drawing groups). In this case, he just resumed the pose until I was finished. Sometimes having a fixed end time, like 20 or 40 minutes, is a good thing because it gets you fired up to get that drawing done before time runs out. But other times, like for this drawing, not being "under the gun" really worked for me. One of my favorite figure drawings I've done.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Short answer: take it very seriously. Long answer: you need to mount a campaign to establish yourself as a reliable, creative, and agreeable figure drawing model. How do you do that? Let’s start with you. Before you even begin to go job-hunting, you need to know whether you can do this job well. Too many guys make the mistake of concentrating only on their muscles, making sure their abs are tight and their pecs oh-so impressive. Sure, that’s nice, but it’s the icing on the cake. You’re not going to be a desirable model if you can’t hold a pose, or come up with creative poses to inspire the artists who will be drawing you. Here’s what you need to do:
Practice Posing On Your Own: Yes, it seems silly to pose alone, but you need to know if you can handle a 20 minute pose. Try standing nude, (or in your jock strap), in front of a large mirror, with a timer set for 20 minutes, and see if you can handle staying still for the full time. You might not be able to; it’s not easy. Especially for a beginner. You may need to practice with 2 or 5 or 10 minute poses, and work up to the 20. (Hint: most professional models do the more difficult, “action” oriented poses during the short, 2-minute or 5-minute poses. They tend to do sitting or reclining, lying down poses for the long, 20 minute poses, because those poses are easier to hold for extended periods).
Develop a Sequence of Poses: Once you feel confident about holding 20 minute poses, you need to start developing an array of poses. Study some of the great masters’ figure drawings to get some ideas. Bookstores and libraries are full of art books containing all sorts of figure drawings and sculptures through the ages to inspire you. Also, check out the many high-quality photo books of the male nude that are out there to get some ideas for poses. And then try out these poses in front of the mirror, to find out which ones look interesting, and also which ones you can hold well. (Interesting, unusual poses are always welcomed by artists, but don’t get too “out there” with it, or you run the risk of appearing comical on the drawing platform, which is never a good idea). What you want to do is to develop a series of interesting, dynamic poses that’ll carry you through a drawing session, (3 to 4 hours), without repeating yourself. Of course, there are some art teachers and drawing group moderators who will have very specific ideas about the poses they want you to do, and they will direct you. But, more commonly, they’ll expect you to come up with the poses.
Do a Test Run With Friends: This one always makes people cringe. “Pose nude in front of my friends?!!”. Well, they don’t have to be your best friends. What you want to do is gather an informal group of artists, even if it’s only 2 or 3, to draw you for a practice session. Ask around among your friends….if any of them are artists, great. They’ll appreciate the chance to get in a free drawing session with a model. If you don’t know any artists, ask around amongst your friends, anyway. They may know someone who is an artist. And, hey...if worst comes to worst...have your non-artist friends draw you as best they can. Maybe you’ll inspire them to start drawing! If you absolutely cannot handle the idea of posing for friends, you might want to re-think getting into this business. You’re going to be posing in front of drawing classes and drawing groups where inevitably you’re going to run into someone you know at some point. If you can’t handle posing for 2 or 3 friends in your own home….good luck posing for a group of 30 people under the harsh lights of a large college classroom.
Scope Out the Colleges & Drawing Groups in Your Immediate Area: Now that you’ve practiced posing and have developed an array of poses, and feel confident about posing, you’re ready to start targeting potential jobs. Check out your local college, (depending on where you live, there may be a number of them in your immediate area). If you can access their websites, you can find out whether they offer figure drawing classes, and even the names of the teachers who teach them. (The teachers may not necessarily be the ones who hire models, though. Often it is a department head who handles this sort of a thing). When you make your first trip to a college to inquire about posing, dress conservatively, as you would for any job interview, (a suit and tie isn’t necessary, though, and would probably be viewed as a bit much!). That sort of casual-preppy “Gap” look probably works best. It would be helpful to bring along a basic resume; if you’ve had any posing experience, include it. If not, you can at least list the fact you’ve posed for a Drawing Group, (when you practice-posed for your friends, remember? That counts as a Drawing Group posing experience!). You don’t need an elaborate resume; just something to list your contact info, some basic background info, and any pertinent job experience. Go to the art department, and let the person in charge know that you’re available to pose, you’re reliable, and you’ll be on time. (And if you get hired, be all of those things!). Take it very seriously. I hate to say this, but a lot of figure drawing class models can be unreliable flakes, and art departments are eager to work with responsible, serious models. They may start you out as a “fill in” model, (in other words, when one of the “flakes” bails out, they may need you to fill in). Once you work a few times, and you show that you’re serious & reliable, you will most likely get regular bookings to pose….perhaps more than you had in mind! (You can say no….let them know how often you want to work, and they’ll respect that.).
Q: Do I Need to Bring Nude Photos of Myself for a Job Interview?
A: Rarely, if ever, have I heard of a Figure Drawing class or Drawing Class request this. An individual artist may, though, simply because he or she may be looking for a specific “type”.
Q: How much money do Art Class Models get PAID?
A: It varies, depending on the school. The ones I know of here in the Long Island, NY area make between $11 to $20 an hour. (perhaps there are schools that pay more...I haven’t heard of any, but let me know if there are some). I have heard of some schools that pay as little as $8 to $11 an hour. Nationally, I generally hear models make $10 to $15 an hour. No, it’s not big bucks, but it’s not minimum wage, either. It’s a nice supplement to your income, something to do on the side that can be fun and rewarding. I imagine if you live in an area where there are a number of colleges and art centers, theoretically, you could get booked in a large enough number of art classes & drawing groups that you can make some serious bucks. And, regardless of the money…..for people who have always wanted to do something “artistic” but felt they weren’t skilled in the arts…this is a spectacular way of being involved in an artistic creative process.
Q: What if I get an ERECTION ?!!!!!
A: Probably one of the most often-asked questions I get, (although many guys are shy about asking!!!). Here’s the answer: it depends on the situation. Let me say this first, though….I think the whole topic is absurd… erections are a natural occurrence, (for men, at least!), and this whole “stifle the erection” mentality is, in my opinion, repressive and unhealthy. However…. when you’re posing for a Figure Drawing Class, it is generally not acceptable to have erections. It really depends on the school & the teacher, but…... unfortunately, it’s almost always not OK. There is a lot of skittishness about male nudity out there, still, and erections probably serve to exacerbate the situation. I have heard from a lot of male models, though, that every once in a while they’ve gotten hard while posing, either without realizing it or it just “popped up” against their will. Generally, these rare occurrences pass by quietly and don’t get commented on. Not always, though….I have also heard from some male models who have gotten warnings, and even were fired for getting an erection on the posing platform. I once heard a rule for some Figure Drawing Classes…one erection is OK….the second time it happens, you get a warning….the third time, you won’t be asked back to pose again. I don’t really know if this “rule” is ever used or enforced anywhere, but I thought I’d pass it on. From my own experience, I have to say erections rarely happen in a classroom situation. For some reason, even if you are very scared about it happening to you….once you are up there posing nude in front of a class, and you know it’s “not cool” for it to happen….it doesn’t happen. And I’m not sure why, but I have heard from some male models that they were really scared they’d get wood in front of the class, but once they got up there to pose, it did not happen. So, I would not worry excessively about this happening to you. One male model suggested to me that, if you’re really concerned about this, try going to a crowded nude beach or a crowded health club locker room, and undress there as if you are going to pose for a class. Most likely, you will not get an erection once you are actually in the situation. Drawing Groups may be a little more forgiving about this than Figure Drawing Classes, simply because you’re not in the strict academic environment, and may not have the same restrictions. (I still would advise caution in this area, though, as you’re apt to get negative reactions if you are constantly getting erections while posing). If you are posing for an Individual Artist, and you’re concerned you might get an erection, talk to him about it beforehand. Believe me, artists who draw male nudes get asked this all the time; they’re not going to think you’re a freak for asking about this. It’s a legitimate question. Most likely, he will re-assure you that it is not a problem. If the individual artist you are posing for says it’s OK, then there is no need to be embarrassed or to cover it up. If he says it’s not OK, then treat the situation as you would treat posing for a Figure Drawing Class…erections not allowed. Again….I find this whole topic a bit absurd. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with erections, and as long as you’re not using the erection as a prelude to having sex with the artist, (not a good idea), or masturbating yourself in front of the artist, (also not a good idea), then relax about it, OK?
Q: How important is penis size? Do I need to be hung ?
A: This is so unimportant. The only reason I’m including this question here is because I actually get asked it quite a lot. I find it’s a sad statement on our culture that so much importance is placed on something as irrelevant as penis size. That some men undergo painful and risky operations and take questionable, costly courses of action to try to increase their penis size is truly frightening. First of all, all of this emphasis on a large staff is a relatively recent development. Tom of Finland, God rest his soul, who I do admire greatly and just love his work…..unfortunately, helped to create this big-dicked mindset amongst many men that has taken off like wildfire over the past century. It would probably benefit many men to take a look at the male nude drawings & sculpture of the great masters, such as Michelangelo….or that of the ancient Greeks. The penises are miniscule in comparison to what is considered “hot” these days. And how can anyone argue that these works of art represent some of the highest ideals of the nude male physique? I know this is all a matter of personal preference, but the bottom line here is this: NO, this is not something that is an issue in posing for art classes….. NO, this is not something I care about it the least in someone who models for me. And YES, I feel very sorry for you if having a large penis is something you feel inadequate without, or is something you consider a dealbreaker in choosing a mate. You really need to open your eyes and see the beauty in all men, regardless of the size of their penis. Don’t think for a moment that I would ever reject having you pose for me on that basis, or that any art class would reject you either, because they wouldn’t.
Q: Do art class models always pose alone, or do they ever pose in groups?
A: It depends on the class, and the teacher. In my classroom experience, solo models are far more frequent. However, I have been in classes where 2 models have posed together. Usually, it was 2 women. However, there was one memorable class with 2 male models. They did some awesome poses, including a “tug of war” pose where they both stood on the platform, holding a rope between them. That was one of the best classes of my whole college experience! I don’t know how common it is for figure drawing classes at other colleges to feature 2 or more models at once. Money-wise, it obviously costs more to hire multiple models, so I don’t imagine it’s all that common. I have heard from some models, though, that this is something they have done occasionally. Sometimes they have posed with a female model, more often with another male. But again, I don’t think this happens all that frequently. If this is something you would not be comfortable with, I’m sure you could let the teacher who runs the class know in advance, and you could skip posing for that particular class.
Q: Is it OK to talk to the students/artists in the class/drawing group during breaks, or should I keep to myself and stay quiet?
A: This is really up to you. I would suggest being cordial and polite, but not becoming overly friendly & chatty with the class, as you want to maintain some professional distance. I do think it’s a mistake to be aloof and cold to the artists drawing you, though; this can only serve to undermine your position for future bookings. I think it is a good idea during breaks, while you’re wearing your robe or long t-shirt, to walk out amongst the artists and look at their drawings. Not only is it interesting for you, it does create a nice connection with the artists. Many of them are eager to show the model their work, to see what you think. Be nice. This is not the time to play art critic. You can think of some nice words to say for just about any drawing...this is the time to do that. Many artists can be very sensitive about showing their work, so, be supportive. This is a good way to “bond” with the group, and it will definitely help you in getting future bookings, (more on this below). Just one caveat here: don’t be a big fake, walking around laying on oodles of false praise to everyone in the room. Nobody likes a kiss-ass! Instead, offer some kind words, engage in some pleasant small talk, and work your way around the room.
Q: What else do I need to know about all this “posing nude stuff” that I may not realize?
A: Many guys believe that the hardest part of this job is getting up the nerve to take off their clothes in front of a room full of strangers. Well...wrong! Stripping naked is not the hard part; the real challenge is building a successful career in this business. You may get hired for one drawing session, but don’t assume the offers will start rolling in after that. You need to get pro-active to start getting regular bookings. Luckily, you’re reading this, so you’re getting an advantage over many other often clueless guys who are stumbling their way through figure modelling. Below are some golden tips I can give you from my years of figure drawing experience, that should really make you stand out in a positive way and help you get additional bookings:
- First off, and most importantly, you want to dazzle. What does that mean? That means, conducting yourself as a consummate professional at all times. You show up on time, you are extremely agreeable and easy to work with, you are creative & interesting with your poses all throughout the session. You make sure to alternate which direction you are posing in throughout the session, so that everyone gets a chance to draw you from the front. (For some reason, many models tend to pose only facing the spotlight, giving half the class a rear view for the whole time. You need to vary your direction throughout the session). When you leave that classroom or art center, believe me, the artists, teachers, moderator, etc will be talking about you. You want it to be good talk. It’s interesting that this is called “Figure Drawing”, because, in a lot of ways, there are amazing parallels to Figure Skating. You are up there on that posing platform for your designated time, and after you are finished and gone, the “judges” will decide your fate in the business. Though I tend to keep my negative opinions of models to myself, I have heard some incredibly scathing critiques of models who weren’t up to the challenge, ( “His poses are so stiff and unimaginative”…. “he looked like he was on some kind of drug trip the whole time”….. “he couldn’t hold still to save his life”…. “he’s putting me to sleep with these poses” …. “he’s always late” ….and on, and on, and on). You do not want to be the model who’s the subject of this sort of talk….so much of your future bookings depend on word of mouth and recommendations. These sorts of negative reviews are career killers. Fortunately, rave reviews carry great weight, too, in propelling your career further. It’s wonderful, after a model leaves the room, to hear the positive reviews, (“His poses are always so interesting and amazing!”…. “he really puts his heart into this”…. “he has so much energy”….”he’s so easy to work with”...and on, and on, and on). Remember, you want to arrive, on time, at every drawing session/class with an arsenal of interesting and creative poses….you want to conduct yourself agreeably and professionally at all times….and bring those 7 Essential Items with you to every drawing session!
You need to be a self-promoter: Every drawing class or drawing group you attend offers a fabulous opportunity to network with artists for future bookings. As I mentioned earlier, it’s a good idea to look at the artists’ drawings during your 5-minute breaks, and engage in some pleasant small-talk. Always have your business cards at the ready to give out, as you are bound to be approached by someone who knows of another drawing group that’s looking for models, or a drawing class at another college, or an individual artist looking to hire models privately. (Better yet, see if you can get contact info for the prospective client, so you can make some follow-up calls or e-mails). Outside of the class, in addition to posting your business cards around at art schools and art centers, you might want to create a flyer to post, and having your own website is a great idea. Talk yourself up, and make sure any artist friends of yours talk you up, too, in their artist circles. Once you start getting successful bookings in several different arenas, and your good reputation builds, you may find yourself getting lots of calls to pose.
You need to do what you can to overcome the “male model hurdle”. What does that mean? Well, I have found there are quite a few drawing groups and classes out there who, for whatever reason, only like to hire female models. For some reason, there seems to be skittishness about the male nude amongst a lot of traditional artists. I was actually at a drawing group once, not too long ago, where I happened to be the only male artist there. Everyone else in the small group was female. As was the model. When I asked if they planned on hiring any male models for future sessions, they looked at me as if I had Martian antennae sticking out of my head. When I pressed the moderator on the issue at a later date, offering her the names of several male models I knew who’d be available to pose, she insisted that they only would be drawing female models, case closed. (as you can imagine, I haven’t been back to the group since; it didn’t help that they had no desks or chairs, either...and charged an outrageous admission fee! But I still can’t figure out why these ladies would object to drawing nude men; I thought they’d welcome the opportunity, if only for a change of pace). How can you overcome this sort of hurdle, if you find a group or class that only uses female models? Well, you can’t make a big deal over it, or you’ll just be deemed a troublemaker. Best to talk directly with the person who makes the hiring decisions, and give him references and assure him of your professional nature. Remind him that the male figure is much easier for students to learn muscle structure from, (unless they happen to be drawing female bodybuilders). You might get through and get him, (or her), to give you a chance.
Q: What about posing for PHOTOGRAPHERS, as opposed to artists? Is there anything I need to know about doing that?
Q: Do I have to be circumcised to pose nude, or can I be uncut ?
Q: Do I need to shave my pubic hair, or any other body hair, to pose nude?
Q: I realize I need to be agreeable and professional and easy to work with...but, aren’t there any situations where I can express discomfort with how things are going in a Figure Drawing Class/Drawing Group?
Yes, there are certain situations where you may have to assert yourself. Here are several:
If the room temperature is unworkable. Depending on the time of the year, the classroom/drawing studio may be cool. But if it is downright drafty and/or frigid, you have to say so to the teacher/moderator. Often, a space heater is provided for the model to use, to put right up there on the platform with you. But not always. Ask if one is not provided. Sometimes, the students and teachers, dressed up warmly in their Norwegian ski sweaters and goose-down vests, do not realize how cold it is in the room. It’s up to you to tell them. Ultimately, it may be useful for you to purchase your own mini-portable space heater, to bring along with you to drawing sessions. But, really...this is something the drawing class/drawing group should provide for you.
If the poses go on longer than the designated time. Occasionally, poses go over the 20 minute mark. And you may be asked, “can you hold for a few minutes more”? Once in a while, that’s OK. If it becomes a regular thing, though, you need to say something. (This is the great thing about bringing your own timer. At least you’re in control of the clock. They may still ask you to hold longer, but at least you won’t have poses lasting for 30, 40 or more minutes without them telling you).
If someone in the class touches you inappropriately. They shouldn’t be touching you at all, actually. The teacher/moderator should inform the class/group from day 1 that touching the model is forbidden. If someone does cross over the line and touch you, it’s up to you on how you want to handle it, but I certainly think this is grounds for walking out right then & there, (with full pay, too!).
A: So much of this fascination with the nude male figure & with posing nude is, obviously, very body identified. But my advice to you is not to get too caught up in the body, and identifying with the body, and obsessing about “perfect” bodies. This may sound strange coming from someone like me, when one of my specialties is drawing the male nude figure. But it is my belief that the body is a vessel of the spirit. We shouldn’t judge each other’s character by each other’s bodies. It is truly what is within that counts. The body, when used correctly, can be a vehicle for doing much good work in the world. Yes, we should honor it and take care of it…..that involves eating healthily, exercising, and getting enough rest. And another key factor, in my opinion, is meditation and asking for spiritual guidance. Where things go wrong, in my opinion, is when people get too obsessed with altering the natural structure of their bodies. Pumping steroids and having risky plastic surgery is not honoring your essential beauty. There is great beauty in a body that is operating healthily and with loving purposes in mind. There is a glow that comes from within. That is the sort of a person I enjoy drawing. It is unfortunate that this culture has a limited view of what constitutes a beautiful body. I challenge you to let go of any notions you might have about aging being an accursed, negative thing; we need to see the beauty in men as they grow through their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. We need to honor our elders, for their wisdom and their own beauty. Getting older doesn’t mean we have to go downhill physically. Honor the spirit within, always seek a deeper connection with the power of Love in the universe, and treat your body kindly & lovingly. That is the road to true, long-lasting, and heavenly beauty.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Through the years, I’ve been asked various questions from guys interested in posing for figure drawings. They want to know what it’s like to pose nude in front of a crowd….what sort of experience they need….how much they can expect to get paid….how to get hired….what situations to avoid….and of course, the most-often asked question… “what happens if I get an erection while posing?”. That’s why I created this section of the website: to answer the most frequently asked questions I have received on this subject.
I’m probably what you’d call very qualified to discuss this subject; during my 4 years at Geneseo College in snowy, upstate New York, I specialized in taking so many Figure Drawing classes, they had to invent some new ones for me to take, (like “Advanced Independent Study in Figure Drawing III”...I kid you not!). After college, I spent several years studying the figure and anatomy books & such on my own, while making my way in the comic book industry. I attended Figure Drawing groups here & there, and sat in for a semester on a teacher friend’s college Figure Drawing class, too. As my comics career accelerated, I had less time for drawing with live models in the classroom or group setting, but fortunately, in the past couple of years, I have gotten back into it more seriously than ever, (as the drawings throughout this website will attest), and found it helps me in my comics work, too. Throughout all of this, I have worked with quite a variety of male figure drawing models, and have learned firsthand the challenges they face, and the methods they use, (and don’t use), to be successful in the business. For the most part, I have worked with some spectacular models. I hope that I can help you find your way in this field with the wealth of information I have accumulated on this topic over the years.
A nice thing about getting into posing as a Figure Drawing model is that you don’t need to spend huge amounts of money to get started in the business. Hell, you don’t have to spend any money, if you don’t want to! (A bonus about posing nude; not a lot of thought needs to go into what you’re going to wear to work!). However, I would strongly suggest you purchase what I call:
The 7 Essential Items Every Male Figure Drawing Model Should Own:
(Relax, none of this is expensive, and it’ll all fit into a backpack...and lightly, too). You really should bring these items with you to every drawing session you pose for.
Robe or other covering. To wear between poses. You will generally get a 5 minute break every 20 minutes or so. It’s helpful to have some covering to slip in & out of easily. Some guys use a pair of gym shorts, some don’t bother at all, and stay nude the whole time. I think a nice idea is an extra-long t-shirt….long enough to cover your butt, easy enough to slip on & off and packs easily in a backpack
Timer. To time your poses. Yes, I know, the teacher or group moderator should be timing your poses. But don’t count on it, especially if they forgot their timer that particular week. The best models I have seen bring along their own timer and time their poses and breaks, keeping the drawing session running smoothly and in a timely fashion. What you do not want to do is rely on someone to watch a clock on the wall...artists get caught up in their drawings, and, oops...your 20 minute pose has suddenly become 45 minutes! Be smart….bring your own timer along. If the teacher has a timer, great...let ‘em take care of the timing. But it they don’t….you’re covered because you brought along your own. (Most use digital timers...but even a wind-up kitchen timer is acceptable. If you’re going to use the digital type, make sure you’re well-versed in how to operate it before the drawing session; you don’t want to be fumbling with the damn thing up on the drawing platform!).
Water & Snack. At the very least, you should bring along a bottle of water. Chances are, you won’t have time to leave the drawing room to go out and buy a snack. And some of these sessions can last up to 4 hours! Bring along something healthy to munch on.
Sheets & Pillow to Cover Drawing Platform. I cannot believe how many models don’t bring along their own coverings for the platform. Let me explain something. You will be posing nude up on a wooden platform that rarely, if ever, has been cleaned. There is usually an ancient blanket or sheet draped across the platform, or some horrible 70s-style shag carpeting, which every model before you for months, years, (decades?), has been posing on. And you’re going to lie on that? Please...bring along a simple, neutral or pastel-colored, clean sheet or 2 of your own. And a small pillow to prop yourself up for reclining poses. I can assure you, you will thank me for this.
Business Cards. Posing for a drawing class is a great opportunity to network with artists, to book future drawing sessions. Have a bunch of business cards on hand to give out, with your contact info clearly listed.
Foot Covering. For wearing on the breaks between poses. The floors of most drawing studios are not great for going barefoot on, and it’s incredibly awkward to have to put shoes on & take off between poses. Bring along a light pair of sandals or slippers for between poses...or at the very least, a pair of socks.
Jock Strap. Hard to believe in this day & age, but some schools and drawing groups do not allow male models to pose completely nude. You should always have a jock strap with you before you pose for any class. Even if you’ve posed at that particular college before, the rules may change without notice, there may be a substitute teacher...I have heard crazy, whacky stories about this. Be prepared, have one with you just in case. I highly recommend the Bike brand Swimmer’s Jockstrap. It has a very narrow waistband, unlike those somewhat bulky traditional jockstraps, and is very streamlined. (See column to the right for an example; you can click on either of the images to purchase one). This one is skimpy enough to fit under a Speedo, and is extremely comfortable. And it costs under 10 dollars!
OK, now let’s get on to the main info….I have designed this area of the website in a “Question & Answer” format, as I seem to get a lot of the same sets of questions about the subject. So, on to the first question I usually get asked, (the questions are in purple, my answers are in black).
Q: How does it work? Do I just walk into the studio and strip naked?
First of all, no artist or art class runs things exactly the same way. For the purposes of this discussion, there are 3 posing situations I will be covering here:
1. The Figure Drawing Class
2. The Drawing Group
3. Individual Artist
The Figure Drawing Class is what people seem to be most familiar with. Many folks have had at least one figure drawing class in their college experience. And many general drawing classes, that are not specifically figure-oriented, will devote a day or 2 to figure drawing, too, to give the students a chance at drawing the human figure. Here’s how it usually goes: you, (the model), show up about 10 to 15 minutes before the class begins. You check in with the teacher, get changed from your street clothes into the robe you brought along in your back-pack, (see those 7 Essential Items above!). Usually, the teacher will indicate where to change. Most often, there is a chair set up in the rear of the classroom for you to use. Occasionally, there is even a separate changing room for the model.. I have even seen models undress in front of the class up on the posing platform, but that is very rare, and if you are not comfortable doing that, I am quite certain the teacher running the class will let you undress & change into a robe elsewhere. If you’re not sure where to go to change, ask the teacher. After you’ve changed, this is a good time to lay out your clean sheets on the drawing platform, (again, see those 7 Essential Items above!). Also, you verify with the teacher whether or not you’ll need to use your own Timer, or if he or she will be timing your poses.
A nice thing about the drawing class is that even though you’re being paid for the entire time you’re there, you probably will not be needed to pose for the whole class. A portion of the time, the teacher may be lecturing the class, so you may end up sitting around for that time, (don’t disappear, though...you need to be ready to pose at a moment’s notice. Bring along a book to read!). When the teacher is ready for you to pose, you will be called forward to the posing platform, (a wooden platform, usually about 18 inches high, located in the center of the classroom, or against the wall with the student’s drawing desks arranged in a semi-circle around it). You will remove your robe once you’re up there, and take poses as directed by the teacher, (usually starting with short warm-up poses, usually 1 to 2 minutes a piece). You will generally be working in 20 minute blocks, with 5 minute breaks between. So, you’ll start with, say, ten 2-minute poses, get a 5-minute break, then do four 5-minute poses, get another 5-minute break, then do two 10-minute poses, another 5-minute break, and finally a few 20-minute poses. (I’ll go more into the essentials of good posing & bad posing a little further down on this page). If it’s a long class, (3 to 4 hours, as many of these are), you’ll probably get a long, 15 minute break at about the halfway point. Do not disappear during the breaks; if you need to use the bathroom, be very quick about it. Why all of these 5-minute breaks, you may ask? Try posing for 3 to 4 hours, and you will understand. It is not easy, (or healthy!), to be posing for more than 20 minutes at a time, and you need this time to rejuvenate and get ready for the next 20 minute set. (UPDATE: I recently attended an open Figure Drawing session in Burlington, Vermont, and I was shocked that the model was given only one break during a two & a half hour drawing session! Frankly, this is the first time I’ve ever seen such a thing, although the model didn’t seem to have a problem with it. But I think this is highly unusual, and not something many models are asked to do. I also think it’s bad for both the model and the artist; as an artist, you need breaks between drawings, not to be firing off one drawing after another with no break in between).
The second posing situation you may be hired for is the Drawing Group. This is similar to the Figure Drawing Class, but there are some key differences. Drawing Groups are usually a little less formal than the Figure Drawing Class...they usually consist of older, more established artists getting together to do figure drawings. There is no teacher giving instructions, but there’s usually one person who is the moderator, who keeps things running. Because there’s no teacher giving lectures, you will be posing the whole time, (except for during your series of 5-minute breaks). The posing sequence is pretty much the same as a drawing class….starting out with a set of quick, 1 to 2 minute poses, and working up to the longer, 20 minute poses. Sometimes, the artists will want to spend a long time on one pose….40 to 60 minutes or longer. In that case, every 20 minutes, when you get your break, the moderator will lay down artist’s tape on the platform, to outline where you were posing, so you can resume the same pose after your break. Drawing Groups meet in a variety of locations….sometimes they take place in local art centers, sometimes in a rental studio the artists have arranged for, sometimes in one of the Drawing Group member’s home or apartment, and sometimes in a college classroom just like the drawing class.
The third posing situation you may pose for is with an Individual Artist. Many professional artists hire models to pose for their paintings or drawings on a regular basis. It is usually a “one on one” situation, where you will go to their studio to pose for an arranged amount of hours, and work only with the artist. You should discuss exactly what the artist has in mind before the first day you pose for him, (or her), to make sure you both agree on the focus of the project. Individual artists work in a variety of methods and formats; with some, you may be posing in a similar fashion to the figure drawing class or drawing group: a series of short poses building up to longer ones, with 5 minute breaks all along. Other artists may want you to pose for a single, very detailed painting, so you will be holding the same pose for the entire session, (or perhaps multiple sessions. Especially with paintings, which can take days or even months to produce).
While posing for an individual artist can be less pressure, (you’re not posing for a crowd, you’re posing for just one person), I would suggest you don’t start out your career that way. I believe that drawing classes or groups are a better way to get started in the business. I think you learn the rudiments of posing more fully that way, and also, it’s a safer route to go. Safer? Yes, that’s what I said. While, of course, there are plenty of reputable and thoroughly professional individual artists who you can work with….the fact is, you are going to pose nude in a stranger’s home. You don’t always have character references to guide you here. Which can mean, you’re putting yourself in a very vulnerable position. If you are posing for a Figure Drawing Class or a Drawing Group, however, not only is it a much safer group environment….you will also have a chance to meet and associate with individual artists there who you can network with and perhaps pose for them solo at a later date, having already established a working relationship at the class or group. (I’ll talk more about safety issues later on here).
Do I have to have a perfect, muscular body to pose?
Not at all. Most Figure Drawing Classes and Drawing Groups aim for a diverse variety of models, and it is common to see all sorts of body types posing in the course of a semester in a drawing class. Personally, I have drawn guys with all body types; overweight, skinny, muscular….and I offer no judgment on any of them. Neither should you. Everyone should have the opportunity to pose nude…and everyone has their own beauty. Some individual artists may have a specific “type” in mind when hiring a model for a certain painting or drawing. But, again….most college art instructors aim to present a diverse array of body types for their students to draw. And, more importantly, they are most concerned with whether a model can strike creative, interesting poses...as well as hold them for the specified amount of time. There are some guys out there with gorgeous, muscular bodies who make dreadful figure drawing models because they cannot stay still for 20 minutes, and/or they cannot create anything more than stiff, uninspired, lifeless poses. I’m not so much interested in drawing guys with a “perfect body”, (whatever that is), but I am interested in drawing guys who are healthy. That does not mean on steroids, on drugs, etc. It means someone who has a healthy outlook on life, and treats their body with respect. I’ll admit, I am greatly influenced by the Italian Renaissance artists and the ancient Greek & Roman sculptors, where the “ideal” body was greatly admired and preferred for posing. So, of course I enjoy drawing a nicely sculptured figure, and I value the opportunity to draw someone with visible muscle structure. But, it’s not the only body type I’ll work with. And, again...there is beauty in all body types. So if you’re interested in posing nude for art classes at some point, but don’t think you can because you don’t have a “Men’s Workout” body, well….you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that, indeed, you can. Remember this: the most important 2 things for a Figure Drawing Class model are to be able to hold poses, (sometimes for long periods), and to be reliable, (meaning you always show up, & always on time). One qualifier here: one of the main purposes of a beginning Figure Drawing Class is to learn muscle structure & human anatomy. I have to state that to learn anatomy most optimally, a model with visible muscle structure is most ideal. That does not mean the model has to be a muscle guy; muscle structure is clearly visible on both very slim men & on men with “average” bodies. It is more difficult to learn muscle structure on an overweight model, though. Again, most Figure Drawing classes will hire models of all different body types. But if I were teaching a beginner’s class, I would tend to hire models with visible muscle structure, (but still alternate with some overweight models).
(I'll continue with part 2 in a few days!)