Friday, February 23, 2007


As someone who has had years of experience in figure drawing classes and figure drawing groups, I'm often approached by models for advice. In fact, it got to the point where I was being asked the same questions so often, that I created a page on my figure drawing website specifically to answer all of the questions I get from models. (No, I don't mind answering the questions, but I reasoned that it'd be easier to have all the info in one place, and let the models peruse it at their own convenience).

Something I didn't really cover there was shyness. I know, for a lot of newer models, it can be a nerve-shattering experience to have to get up in front of a classroom or group meeting fully nude, and hold a series of interesting, challenging, and often long poses for a demanding group. (Well, the groups usually aren't "demanding", but it may seem that way!).

I figured I'd list some basic things you can do here to overcome your shyness, and maybe help you through that first posing session:

  • Practice in advance. Before you pose for a large group or classroom situation, see if you can do a practice session with a smaller group, even a couple of friends, if you can't find anyone else. Doing several 2 or 3 hour drawing sessions with a small group will give you a huge boost of confidence to take on the larger group.
  • Work out a posing routine. Try to have an arsenal of different poses you can call upon once you're posing for the large group. This serves several purposes: 1, you won't be as nervous, knowing you don't have to improvise once you're up there on the posing stand. 2, you'll have a good idea about what works for you for longer poses and shorter poses. The last thing you want to do is get into a pose for, say, a 20 minute drawing that you realize you can't hold after 3 minutes!
  • Relax about the nudity thing. I know, easy for me to say, right? But the truth is, after about the first 5 minutes or so, almost everyone in the classroom or group meeting is usually "over" the whole nude thing, and are more focused on getting a good drawing. They're not freaking out over your exposed penis! You shouldn't be freaking out, either... it sounds cliche and a bit unbelievable, but it's true... the artists are there for the art, not for the thrill of seeing you in the nude!
  • Don't be late! It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway. Be on time! Arriving late at a drawing session is not only unacceptable professionally, it'll probably increase your nervousness tenfold, to have to walk into a crowded classroom full of impatient, slightly annoyed artists waiting for you...and then have to strip naked in front of them. Ugh! Avoid this situation by showing up 10 to 15 minutes early. As I always advise models, bring along a book to read, as you often spend a fair amount of time sitting around waiting for your time to pose.
  • Don't forget to BREATHE! Um, seems obvious, right? But, sometimes when you're really nervous, (like, when you're standing up naked in front of a group), you may get so focused on staying still on the platform, that you stop or severely limit your breathing, so much so that you end up gasping for air and shaking uncontrollably. As a big talk-radio listener, I refer you to Dr. Joy Browne, who advises something called "square breathing" to calm your nerves. What this is, essentially, is a 4-step process: Inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, exhale for count of 4, and then hold for a count of 4. Repeat this several times, and it can serve to not only calm your physical jitters, but also focus your mind on something to ease your nerves.
For more about all this posing stuff, be sure to check out my "Info For Models" page at my figure drawing website. It covers just about everything you could want to know about posing for art classes and drawing groups.


Anonymous said...

thanks for this. I'm trying to get the courage up to model at a local college. your website and this post gave me some confidence to try it out. my biggest fear is about an erection happening while I'm posing, maybe you could talk more about that?

Anonymous said...

Don't ever worry about the getting an erection thing. After about 30 seconds of the first pose, you're working, that's all. I usually find that there's too much other stuff to concentrate on while posing to even think about what my dicj is doing. :)