Monday, February 23, 2009

Tips for art models

For the first substantive post to this blog, I expected I'd post information about some upcoming classes, or pontificate about the changing face of the drawing scene, or a nerdly article on pen points.

Saturday night, I got home from one of Michael Alan's looney Draw-a-thons in the wee hours, and chanced to check my email. There was one from a girl who was asking me if I could give her some tips on breaking into nude (art!) modelling. I spilled out my thoughts, and decided this was a sign... And so my fist post ! Mind you, I've never modeled, but I know what inspires me, and I know what I look for when I hire a model. I'd really love input from some models who know the other side of the pencil.


Best way to start, attend a couple of different classes, see how the models do and see how the artists respond. first off, you'll get an idea of what is expected of the models, and you'll also get to see what makes a good model, and what doesn't (as with any other profession, some people do their job better than others).

For artist's models, looks aren't necessarily important. Being able to come up with interesting poses, and being able to hold them, are the top skills.

Holding the pose is really important, since it gets very frustrating when you're 20 minutes into a drawing, and the model is slowly twisting into a different position. Not moving means not moving anything, including your eyes. Of course, your body follows where your eyes go, so if you fix your eyes to one point, you should be ok. Bored, maybe, but OK.

For sketch classes like mine, I don't do a pose longer than 20 minutes, but if you're posing for a painting class or a sculpture class, it can go on for a week or more (boring, I guess, but regular work!). In that case, the pose is typically broken up into 20-25 minute sessions, with a 5 minute break. At the end of the first 20 minutes, the monitor will usually put tape on the places where your feet are to help you find your place again. Being able to hold a pose is a highly regarded skill!

Being able to offer interesting poses will make you a desirable model! The best models have a good sense of motion in their poses, and that makes for exciting drawings. This is where dancers & yoga practitioners have an advantage. If you're familiar with ballet, think Jose Limon over Martha Graham. If that doesn't mean anything to you, one good way to create a sense of motion is to be asymmetrical, or slightly off balance. Or use the poses to act out a story, or express your inner demons.

Having fun will make posing, or any job, more easier.

Just remember that you'll be going for hours, so pace yourself, too.

As far as working conditions, most of the people you'll be working with will be pretty cool. Sketch classes traditionally have been quiet, meditative places, but there are a new breed, like Michael Alan's Sketch-a-thon, and Dr. Sketchy's in Brooklyn. These are more like performance art and/or burlesque, and usually have costumes, themes and music.

Hope that's good for a start!

If you go to the "files" section of the Meetup group, you'll find a PDF I created called "Classes around town." It lists all the classes I know of in the area. That ought to be a good start. Also try colleges with art departments (Hunter, CCNY, NYU, etc).

Good luck!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Welcome To NY Figure Drawing

Life drawing, ie., drawing the nude figure from a live model

Some of you may already know me! I've been running a life drawing group in the summers here in Manhattan, on and off, for something like ten years. A few years ago, I brought the group to That helped reach a lot of new people, and it helped to streamline the process of scheduling the sessions. The meetup site interface isn't really a great place for interacting, however. there's a lot more I want to share, and a blog seemed like a better place to offer suggestions and to get feedback. I'm going to try to keep this site filled with new and useful content, including information on:

Materials and techniques
Beginner's suggestions
Info on my group and all the others in NYC that I know about
Info on running a sketch group
Info for models and artists
And of course a little blog-worthy pontification
Art (of course)

Is there something else that you would you like to see on this site? Let me know!