Monday, February 13, 2012

Art Modeling 101, Part 2

I was looking back at my last blog post and realized that I left out one very important piece of information: what a model should bring to a life drawing class.

I carry a gym bag with me to all of my modeling appointments.  In the bag, I have a robe, which is an essential tool for a model (if not a robe, then a sarong or some other kind of cloth to wrap up in).  I also have a pair of slip-on house shoes.  The floors of drawing studios get very dirty with all the charcoal being used.  There are also other hazards, like thumbtacks, which sometimes find their way onto the floor.  I also carry a beach towel and use it for seated poses so that I'm not putting my bare behind on any furniture.  I also have a little digital oven timer to time the poses.  This sometimes doesn't get used in the instructor-led classes.  I always defer to the instructor as to how he or she wants to keep time.  In a little pocket of the gym bag, I keep a few business cards just in case the opportunity for more modeling work presents itself (like the instructor of another class stopping by for a visit).

Some models carry their own props with them, but I find that difficult since I'm usually arriving at class straight from my full-time office job.  I am often able to find a variety of props to use already in the room, even if it's just a broom handle to use as a pole.  Poles are very handy for being able to get an outstretched arm on longer standing poses.

I keep my contact lenses, glasses case, and bottle of lens fluid in a side pocket of the gym bag.  I normally wear glasses when I'm not modeling, but I have heard people complain about having to draw glasses.  Drawing the head and face is difficult enough, and I'd rather not get into a position where I have to model blind, so I put the contacts in before each class.  I only wear these contacts when I model, so my modeling bag is a good place to keep them.

There is one last item that I keep in the modeling bag, a small disposable razor, but I don't have to use it very often.  During the semesters when I'm modeling a lot, I remove the body hair from my legs, chest and back (I leave a small patch of pubic hair).  If I'm just coming off a long break, like summer or Christmas, I'll use Nair.  When the hair starts growing back, I'll go ahead and keep it shaved for the rest of the semester.  I will occasionally get under the lights in a drawing room and see some hair, usually around my ankles, that I missed the last time I shaved.  Having the razor with me allows me to take care of that during breaks.

I started removing the hair back around 2004, when I was asked to be a body cast model by a wax artist at Ripley's Believe It or Not wax museum.  She highly recommended that I shave my legs, chest, etc. since the plaster would probably take the hair off when they pulled the plaster off me.  I normally try to avoid pain, so I went ahead and used Nair all over, and I kind of liked the sensation of hairless legs.  Not long before this, I had done a beginning drawing class, and I had seen that a student had tried to draw the hairs on my legs which was, in  my opinion, detrimental to her drawing.  Figure drawing is about shapes and light and shadow.  So, I thought, I should just keep the hair off and allow students to concentrate more fully on the shapes and the light and shadow.  So, after the Ripley's session, I kept removing the hair.  The response I got from some of the drawing classes was very gratifying.  Models really like to hear an artist say, "You are fun to draw."

And by the way, if anyone goes to the Ripley's Believe It or Not wax museum and sees a standing figure of Jay Leno with his hands in his pants pockets, you can know that the mold of the body underneath his suit was taken from me...


  1. One thing I keep in my modeling bag are sectional painting poles. They come in 3 piece packs and I buy a number of these so I have enough sections to make a pole 7-8 feet long or make a couple of smaller ones. They come in 1 ft sections which make them very easy to break down and put in my bag. Do a Google shopping search for: sectional extension pole wooden and you will find a number of them. I picked mine up a Lowe's or Home Depot.

  2. Atlanta, that's a good idea. I'll have to look into those.