To most, being completely nude in front of a class of inquisitive eyes, likely sounds intimidating. Especially when you consider that modeling for a figure painting class usually entails at least an hour spent changing position and then holding for anywhere from one minute to thirty minutes. Each class member finds their angle and carries out their creative representation of your body; all the while, critiques and pointers are being given by the instructor.
For me, when I had this experience, it was rather liberating and calming; my perspective changed from feeling naked in a room full of eyes to feeling comfortably nude in a room full of artists. As the clock started I found my positioning, then the waiting began. This was perhaps the hardest part for me was remaining completely still, in a sometimes demanding pose, for what could be twenty or thirty minutes. This gives the artists time to feel how they will approach the lighting, proportions, shadows, contours of the body and to create the relationship between them and their subject and medium.
After the first ten minutes, I was able to relax more and go into a sort of meditation. The nude figure has been represented in art since the beginning of our recorded history. It is an expression of our natural, unique, diverse, beautiful human form. At the end of the class when I was able to look at all of the sketches and paintings people had created, inspired by my figure, it was an interesting exercise of looking at myself through many lenses. Some of them highlighted my areas of insecurity and others accentuated my favorite parts. In the end, looking at a variety of diverse perspectives of my nude figure and how they appeared collaged together, shifted my viewpoint from self-analytical to self-loving and appreciating.
This experience served me as a lesson in letting go, letting my creative energies flow and feeling comfortable in my own skin.
Tips for Figure Art Modeling
- Meditate before, clear your mind and slow down your pace.
- Feel like art; embody the muse archetype.
- Move naturally like you would rolling around in bed or in other authentic movement.
- To hold position: make sure your weight is evenly distributed for the amount of time you need to be still.
- Focusing on breathing and going into a meditative space helps to stay relaxed.