Friday, November 30, 2012

Getting My Head Examined

I got the opportunity to model for a portrait anatomy class last night at the Texas Academy of Figurative Art.  This was my second session for this course, and from the lectures I've heard to start each class, it seems to be a pretty intensive study of the anatomy of the head.  In fact, I joked with friends before that class that I was going to get my head examined.

Portrait modeling and figure modeling have some distinct differences, and I have to confess that I find modeling for portraits more taxing.  The most obvious difference is, of course, clothing.  Portrait models are fully clothed, while figure modeling is usually done in the nude.  When doing a figure class, I'm aware that my entire body is being studied, and while I will focus my eyes on a certain point in the room, I usually feel free to look about at times (without moving my head, of course).  When modeling for a portrait class, I'm aware that the focus of every artist in the room is my head; therefore, I try to keep my eyes on one fixed point and not move them.  This takes a lot more concentration, especially when my contact lenses start to feel like they are sticking to my eyeballs.

People who have never modeled (or just don't take their modeling job seriously) might think that, since artists are only studying the head, the model ought to be free to move his or her arms and legs throughout the pose. That's true to some extent, but I try to keep any movement to a minimum.  Moving a leg can affect the position of the head, and if the head moves, the pose (not to mention the lights and shadows) is changed.  So I treat each pose as a full body pose, even if the artists are just studying one part of my body.

Since I treat each pose as a full pose, clothing can sometimes affect my comfort.  When modeling nude for a figure class, my physical comfort is determined solely by muscle fatigue and blood circulation.  When modeling clothed, the neckline of my shirt, the waistline of my pants, the tightness of my socks or undergarments, etc. can all be contributors to the comfort level of a pose.

Last night's class was a relatively short one, only two hours, with just an hour and a half of posing/drawing time, and yet, I left feeling more tired than I do after a three hour figure session.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Job Uncertainty

My full-time job is coming to an end.  The company for which I have worked for the past two and a half years, Union Drilling, Inc., was purchased by another drilling company based in Houston.  Our division offices should stay relatively intact, but our Fort Worth corporate office will be closing.  I have unequivocally declined to move to Houston, so I have been notified that my last day will be December 31, 2012.  I'll get my regular year-end bonus, and I'll get a nice severance amount.  Between that, unemployment compensation, and modeling gigs, I shouldn't even feel any pain for at least three months, although I doubt that it will take me that long to find another job.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to getting some daytime modeling assignments in January, and maybe into February.  I've already talked to Ron at the Texas Academy of Figurative Art about a multi-week long pose.  While I don't look forward to the discomfort of such a long pose, I am excited about being a part of a long term project by a group of realist painters and artists.  The following is a drawing of me in a couple of 30-45 minute poses by a student at TAFA. 

If that level of detail can be achieved in such short poses, I'm excited to see what they can do with a long project.  Because the students at TAFA capture such detail, I'm using the prospect of modeling there as motivation to change my diet and exercise regimen.  I hope to lose at least fifteen pounds by the time this project starts, not that it will matter to the artists; they are happy to draw whatever body takes the stand.  But it will matter to me.  I'm anticipating some amazing work by Ron and these students, and I'd like to look my best for posterity...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Church and Modeling

Before this entry, there are 25 posts on this blog.  My stats show that of those 25 posts, one receives a much higher "hit" count than all the others.  In fact, the hits on "A Christian Model" outnumber the hits on the 24 other posts combined.  Why is that?  When I look at the search keywords used to send people to my blog and that particular blog post, I see such things as:  "naked crucifixion," "crucified naked," "public nude crucifixion," etc.  While I will never know if the majority of people making these searches are doing so in a desire to learn more about Jesus Christ or merely a (somewhat disturbing) fascination with torture and execution, I hope that all visitors find something enlightening in what I wrote back in February.

I was recently scheduled to model for a drop-in session at Oil and Cotton, a relatively new artist venture.  In an attempt to boost their attendance (because better attended figure drawing sessions tend to spark even more figure drawing sessions which means more work for us models), I invited a few people on my Facebook list. I invited only those whom I knew to be serious artists. Many of those had drawn me before. Of the ones who had never drawn me, one was a lady from my church. She has a degree in art and recently started her own art school for children. Her response was: " lol I would totally go but I cannot go if you are modeling. Im not squeamish but I just can't see my friend or my friends husband nekkid lol." I told her that I was a professional and that it wouldn't bother me, but she replied: " haha i'm sure its not but it would be weird for me. I would consider going though because I really love figure drawing. It is challenging and beautiful and every time I do it it turns out differently. love that." Seeing that she loves figure drawing, I made one last attempt to get her to go, but I got this rather emphatic reply: "Maybe I was a little unclear. I mean this in the nicest way possible. It would be somewhat offensive to see my friend, my husbands friend nude. I have not figure drawn since college days!"  She wound up not going, of course.  I continue to be disappointed with the church's view on simple nudity and on my part-time job.

Keeping with that theme, I did recently add a new blog to the roll at the right side of the page.  My Chains Are Gone is a website designed by Christian ministers to help those struggling with an addiction to pornography.  I highly recommend reading the articles to everyone, but especially to those who view life drawing of the nude and Christianity as somehow incompatible.  The articles explain very eloquently and with scriptural references that they are not.  I plan on "liking" and commenting on posts on the My Chains Are Gone Facebook page in the hopes that some of my friends from church will see it.  Maybe some of them will even begin taking a view that seeing nudity, even the nudity of our fellow church members, is not "somewhat offensive."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

"Have To" Versus "Get To"

I was having a conversation with someone the other day, and when I told her that I modeled for art classes as a part time job, she seemed somewhat interested in doing it herself.  It seems like everyone is searching for a way to make ends meet in the current economy.  Once she expressed some interest, she asked me, "Do you have to pose nude?"  My answer at the time was, "Yes, usually."  That seemed to kill her interest...

But when I thought about it later (while doing a two hour pose at Oil and Cotton), I realized that I have never thought of modeling nude as a "have to."  It has always been a "get to" for me.  I get to model nude.  In the art studio, the teacher and artists all have to wear clothes because of the law, the rules of the college, university, or art center, and/or the expectations of society.  But I, as the model, get an exemption from that.  I'm expected to be nude.  I get to be nude.  I consider it the most wonderful of freedoms.  Free from clothing, from covering, from disguises.  Is that what makes the difference between those of us who continue to model over many years versus those who model for only a year or two and then move on?  And are artists/art students able to tell the difference between the "have to's" and the "get to's"?  I've heard it said that artists really prefer a model who appears comfortable over one who seems uncomfortable.  Is that why there seem to be so few of us who are suited for art modeling as a long-term job?

Over the years, I have had a great many people tell me that they would like to try modeling for art classes.  Of those, I know of only two who went ahead and actually modeled for at least one session (and one of those had grown up in a nudist family).  In the current climate of gymnophobia that seems to have the United States in its grip, those of us who are truly comfortable in our natural, God-created state, seem rare.

Nothing profound here; just some random thoughts that passed through my mind during that two-hour pose I just completed...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

November 6th

November 6th has always been a milestone date in my modeling career.  It was on this date in 1984 that I modeled for my first life drawing class.  Modeling Session Number One was for a Tuesday night drop-in session at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.  I had attended that session as an "artist" a couple of times before when I had been considering modeling, and I had given my name and number to the moderator as a potential model.  He called me just an hour or two before that session was due to start, just as I was about to go eat at the cafeteria, and asked me to model.  After swallowing the lump in my throat, I said OK.  My appetite suddenly gone, I took a long walk around campus and arrived at the art studio just a bit early.  The moderator wasn't able to attend, but there were two ladies there to draw.  I was somewhat relieved that it would be such a small class.  A more detailed description of that experience can be found here.

Just like that November 6th 28 years ago, today is a presidential election day.  In 1984, Ronald Reagan easily won re-election over Walter Mondale.  Even though I was only 18 years old, I was a big Reagan fan.  Before receiving that first model booking, I had been looking forward to sitting back in the TV room at my dorm and watching the election returns, confident that Reagan would win.  I remember really liking him way back when I was 10 years old, watching his concession speech at the 1976 Republican National Convention after Gerald Ford had won the nomination.  I guess I've always favored lower taxes and smaller government.

This year's election presents something of a dilemma for me.  I neither like nor trust either of the major party candidates.  I voted for the Libertarian Party candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.  I don't agree with him on everything, but I've had a chance to meet him and talk with him and believe that he is, by far, the most qualified and best suited candidate for the job.

Realistically, I know that either Romney or Obama is going to win the presidency.  And in my state, it is a forgone conclusion that Romney will win the 36 electoral votes up for grabs here.  So my vote for Governor Johnson amounts to a mere protest vote--a protest against the ever-increasing power of the state, the status quo, and the lack of a trustworthy Republican candidate.  And yet, of the two, I have to root for Romney.  The Obama presidency has been an abysmal failure, and considering the damage over the last four years to our economy and to the limits on government that were specified in the Constitution, I cringe at the thought of what an Obama who doesn't have to worry about getting re-elected would do.  And when I really think about it, I'm amazed that Obama has a chance of winning, given the current state of our country and of the economy.  I guess that is just a testament to how lackluster the Republican candidate really is.

But the best thing about Election Day is that tomorrow the political ads will all be gone from the airwaves.