Getting busy networking

In the past week I have spent my evening down time surfing information and local web sites of drawing groups, artists, galleries and educational institutes.  Luckily I have found a few that talk about classes that are being held on a regular basis and I have e-mailed them to introduce myself and let them know that I am available for sessions and bookings if they have any available.

Good news is that I am getting responses.  I have been talking with the local university and their coordinator about modeling sessions along with an animation studio that also runs figure drawing classes.  There is also another drawing group located within a 10 minute walk of my home that is looking for models and also paying very well (by model standards) for 2 hour sessions.

I know that starting out again will mean booked sessions that are few and most likely far between but I am happy that I’m finding groups and artists to contact.

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My trip to the acupuncturist and cupping

Actually, it’s nothing titillating at all.  It was more of a “Huh, if I ever needed more proof that this works, this is it” moment.

I have been getting acupuncture for over 2 years now.  It started out more to placate my wife as she is a big proponent of the practice but also I thought that Western medicine is very narrow minded to think that only medications etc will “cure” what ills you.  I suffer from allergies so that was my main reason for going.

Fast forward to yesterday.  Traditionally I start out on my stomach with needles in my neck, back and back of my legs for various areas of treatment.  I also get “cupping” done at the same time.  For those who do not know what this is, it is the practice  in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing.  Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps).  In my case, it is FIRE! Cupping When the cups came off 20 minutes later, my acupuncturist remarked that I had 2 areas that were extremely red (meaning high activity).  When asked which areas they related to she told me the first was lungs (my asthma which she is aware of) and the other was “bones and muscles” which was due to me being sore, strained etc.  What I hadn’t told her was my muscle soreness and I casually mentioned my recent re-introduction to figure modeling.  She was quite interested and remarked that each time she sees me I’m doing something new and interesting.

While my blog is mainly about getting back to figure modeling, I thought this was interesting and I wanted to share the story and the link to my modeling.  Luckily my acupuncture was after my second week of modeling and I wasn’t nearly as sore as the first week.  I wonder what that mark would have looked like.

I have been warned and also read about what distractions may or may not happen during a drawing session that could distract me as the model.  Cell phones, loud conversations between the artists, people moving in and out of the area, knocking things over (I have to admit personal guilt here, I knocked a stool off the dais my first night back) and other things that may break my concentration.

Last night, I found myself distracted by one particular artist and their behaviour.  The artist in question has a habit of sighing quite loudly.  That in itself is not bad, but this is a regular, loud sigh of annoyance/exasperation coupled with muttering under the breath.  I found myself thinking about what exactly the issue was during my pose, instead of being able to concentrate on what I was doing or what pose I should do next.  Was it me?  Was it that I was a male model, not female?  Were my poses not to their liking?  Was it that she was annoyed with the level of her skill?  She did loudly complain during breaks about how hard it was to draw some of the longer poses, “…that was the longest 30 minutes of my life!”, and she yelled out right before one longer pose was to start that she would be happy with anything as long as I “…don’t use that stool again!!!”  I found that interesting as I was getting a number of compliments from the other artists about the poses (only 3 out of the whole session) that I used the supplied stool and another prop I bring along.  In addition to all this, halfway through the last long pose of the night, I could hear her loudly packing up her materials and leaving all the while discussing with the moderator of the session about the another workshop she wanted to attend later in the week.  I had my back to her during this last pose but she was the same person who loudly packed up 45 minutes early last week and left during a pose.

The other distraction was that people were moving in and out of the art space during poses.  I didn’t feel like I could/should say much as the offenders were mainly the moderator and the art space owner.  It didn’t help things that it was their cells ringing and they were the ones most likely to be having conversations during poses.  Being a new guy, or a new guy getting back into the modeling world, I don’t feel that it is right to complain or cause waves.  I can take things in stride, I just wonder at what level I should actually talk to the mod during a break and mention some issues.  Do you get blacklisted?  It’s a small community even in a city with over a million people, and I don’t want to be labelled as a complainer etc.

While the evening ended on a bit of a sour note for me, the overall evening was good.  I had better poses than the first night, more energetic, more thoughtful (I was even complimented on them by the mod and the art space owner), but apparently some of my longer poses were a little “static”.  Hey, I can take some critical advice but when I asked during the session what the mod would like to see for longer poses so I wasn’t “static”, she couldn’t offer any advice or suggestions.  I discussed with her that I was trying to find a balance for the longer poses that made them interesting but at the same time something I could keep as a pose.  I would imagine that there is nothing more annoying to an artist than a model who takes up a pose that they can’t keep for any length of time and then has to break it a few times to rest or shake out limbs.  It’s still a learning curve for me.  I haven’t done this for a number of years and when I first started out, I was left to my own devices in relation to poses and haven’t run into this issue before.  Like I said, I can take constructive advice, I just need the advice part.  I’m more than willing to work with a group.  I thought by asking for a few pointers or suggestions that I could minimize or avoid the “static” complaint but it wasn’t to be.  Blank response…  Oh well.  I can take some positive things away from last night’s session.

1)  I arrived 25 minutes early this time!

2)  I researched and practiced new gesture poses which got me a very positive response from the artists, shop owner and mod of the group.  “Athletic” and “energetic” were the terms used.

3)  While I did have the distractions (and more) that I detailed, I never broke pose.

4)  All the artists who attended, minus the loud one who packed up and left early again, came up to me at the end of the evening and thanked me for modeling and the poses I did.  That made me feel great as a husband and wife team that were there were especially complimentary.  Maybe I’m more of an exhibitionist/needy for attention than I thought!

5)  Dropping the robe felt totally natural.  No hesitation, no real anxiety and when I was up there, I feel free.  I would take a minute or two while up on the dais to shake out after each longer pose and didn’t feel the need to run for my robe.  It didn’t make sense to cover up for such a short time.

On to the opportunities!  I was thinking all of this over during my drive home.  Feeling a bit down about some things but very excited and gratified by others.  I get home, talk with my wife about my evening and what went on and go make myself a sandwich.  I fire up the lap top to check messages and find that a different figure drawing group is looking for models and e-mailed me their schedule from November 2012 to June 2013.  They wanted to know if I was interested and what dates I could be available.  I e-mailed them back my availability and we are ironing out a long term schedule that will see me working until the end of June.  This group has 3 hour sessions, all consisting of 20 minute poses with 5 minute breaks and one longer break in the middle of the session.  It is a more established art school located within an art supply shop.  They offer many workshops and sessions and I see that most are fully booked before they begin so I expect that they have a pose space that is better equipped and laid out but I plan an advanced visit to see.

Onwards and upwards!

Dropping the robe

I didn’t really expand on this topic in my last post.  I know how I felt the first time I got naked in front on strangers years ago but I don’t think I truly remembered the extent of how nervous I really was back then.  Last night was much different, partially thanks to not being able to have time to worry, but also because that I have changed.

Part of what drew me back (no pun intended, really) to figure modeling was that originally I was very shy and extremely modest about my body and nudity in general.  Modeling for the short time that I did in college really helped me change my mindset about my body, about how I felt as a person and also how I could deal with others who are superficial.  Looking back on it now, it was a real watershed time for me in my life.  I became a more confident person in general.  Later on when encountering something new, someone new etc., I would think, “This isn’t really a tough thing to do.  You got naked in front of groups of people you never met before and you can certainly do this!”  I became much less concerned about my appearance to others.  Don’t take this the wrong way though.  It wasn’t like I descended into a time of being smelly and unwashed.  No.  I started to re-evaluate my life and what I viewed as important and what I didn’t.  I was the typical early 20’s guy back then who stressed about my overall appearance and social standing.  Was the hair out of place, was at least somewhat fashionable (I was never a clothes horse but did try to keep up with things, remember HyperColour shirts?), was a good looking enough to be attractive to the opposite sex?

I started to realize that by being more comfortable with the nudity, I could be more comfortable with myself overall.  I started to stress much less about perfect hair, was I good enough for this person etc.  I changed gears into, “This is me.  I like me more than I used to.  If you don’t like me for me, do I really want or need you in my life?”  It was an extremely liberating feeling.  I hadn’t realized what walls I had built and possibly how I had let more shallow interests dictate me and how I lived my life. I realized that I really didn’t like it and I made a change.

Who thought that all of this transformation could take place just from taking your clothes off in front of a group of people?  Giving something of yourself to others that is so personal, so private and trusting them not to judge.  It worked.  I loved it and now I’m re-discovering how much I love it again.  I keep saying how much I want to work but again, it’s selfish.  I want to bask in the feeling of being so free.  It’s a powerful legal drug.  So many people who think they could never do this could learn so much, could benefit so much, could give so much just by giving it a try.

I still had the same thoughts running through my head leading up to last night.  Am I a little to pudgy for this?  What will people think of my penis size?  Am I too old to be doing this and holding these poses?  What am I trying to prove to myself by doing this again?  The simple answers were: No, who cares, no and “I don’t think I’m trying to prove anything”.

I am getting that liberated, confident feeling back and it’s so powerful that I’m already getting addicted to it.  I love to be able to give of myself while at the same time be getting something so important and valuable back from those I am posing for and they most likely don’t even realize it.

I am craving this.  I am anticipating next week.  Walking up to that dais, putting down my water bottle, slipping off my flip flops, undoing my robe, hanging it up, and climbing that ladder again…to freedom.

The Big Night

Well, it arrived and nothing leading up to it went right.  Well, I tried to make it “right”, it just went badly until I arrived at the studio (finally) 1 minute after the group was supposed to start.

I had everything planned out.  I was to leave work, use transit to get home to get my car and then arrive at the studio well within the time I needed to intro myself, set up, relax etc.  This was not to be.  I did leave work on time…but the bus didn’t show.  I waited for 40 minutes until another guy at the stop phoned transit to find out there was a huge accident in the other part of downtown and the buses were severely delayed.  I started to walk out to downtown in vain hope that I could get home, get my car and race to the studio.

I did a personal best.  I ran/walked over 20 blocks in less than 30 minutes, all in flip flops, all the while watching traffic for the very late bus or an available cab.  20+ blocks later, me freaking out and hopelessly still far away from home, I turned back to see the bus chugging along.  I have never been so happy in my life to see a bus!

I arrived home just in time to throw my bag in the car and bomb to the studio, 1 minute late.  All the while I had been calling the studio, letting them know what was happening and assuring them that I was indeed on my way.  I was panicking.  My reintroduction to figure modeling and it was all going horribly wrong.  I didn’t want to be late, I didn’t want to disappoint and most of all, I didn’t want NOT be be invited back.  Lucky for me the studio owner and the instructor of the class were incredibly understanding.  I ran in, dropped my bag and hurried to get into my robe.  In all that had happened to me in the last 1.5 hours, being nervous about being nude again for a class was the absolute last thing on my mind.  I was in such a panic to get to the studio and NOT be blacklisted on my first time out that I had no time to be nervous.

I was lead to a room where I could undress and prep.  A few artists were still arriving when I did which bought me a few minutes.  I scoped out the dais and mentally prepared a few starting poses.  The platform was about 3 feet of the ground and measured about 4X6.  It was covered in a new sheet and was padded (thankfully!).  A small ladder was off to one side for me to climb up.  I brought my water over, my few props and then the group instructor looked at me and said, “Let’s get going.”  That was it.  No thinking, no stewing over being naked in front of people, no real time to wonder and discount my body.  Off came the robe and up I went.  I did about 10 minutes of 30 second poses followed by 20 minutes of 5 minute poses.

The room was warm, the lights were right, great music playing and off we went.  I managed to hold a few poses that weren’t right for the length of time the artists wanted but I pretty much thought that this would happen.  One 30 minute pose resulted in my entire right arm and hand falling asleep.  Never was I happier to hear “time!” in my life.

It was a smaller group, about 6 artists, 8 with the instructor and the owner who decided to join in drawing once he had a moment.  I went through a number of poses, mentally trying to remember not to duplicate any.  It was amazing!  I was totally at peace, minus some body discomfort. After about 5 minutes it felt completely natural to be nude in front of a group.  I was loving it.

A few other positive things happened tonight.  First, the owner was happy I was there.  He complimented me on my poses and said “…and another big thing is that you showed up!”  Apparently the last two female models they had booked cancelled at the very last minute, literally.  They called and said they had other things to do, a murder mystery being one of them.  It sounded to me like they got cold feet and bailed.

Another positive thing was the art that was being produced.  It was amazing to see the different artists and their take on my body.  Many beautiful works were created and I was happy.

Well, on to the next week.  I have a different, more foolproof plan to get there on time.  I am armed with different props and I am determined that by the end of the three weeks I am booked for that they will want me back in the hopefully near future.  I want to be professional, reliable and inspiring.  So far, I think I managed 2.5 of those tonight.  Next week I’m going 3 for 3.

Prepping for the big night

As I previously wrote, in a few days, my second plunge into figure modeling will occur.  Unlike 14 years ago, I knew almost nothing about figure modeling.  Google is a great tool.  I am the type of person that likes to research things…to death. 

When I decided to take up figure modeling again (if anyone would hire me) I spent a large amount of time researching on the internet.  Looking up poses, do’s an don’ts, what artists like/look for and generally how to prepare and find work.  I found many threads about modeling and thankfully, one from another male model who extensively detailed his experiences modeling over the last 4 years.  From his posts and other sites, I was able to get a better understanding of what was expected of me, the model, and what I should expect from the artists.

I put together a modeling bag.  So far I have the following.

–  A robe.  Pretty standard equipment as schools do not want a nude model walking about, especially around students.  Private gigs and artist’s groups can be different but I read that many people find it a little uncomfortable having the model walking around nude when not on the dais.  I err on the side of caution and do not want to offend.

–  Sheets.  3 so far.  All washed up and ready to go.  I read many posts about classes and groups that have a dais that may be covered or uncovered but most likely hasn’t seen a total cleaning for years, if ever.  I can drape the dais and any chairs I may use. 

–  Pillows.  For my reclining long poses.  Need a little cushioning as I am not nearly as young as I used to be.

-Props.  Here is where I am getting excited.  Looking back years ago, I now wish I had access to props or had even been told to use them.  I thought you just got up and stood or sat in front of the students.  No thankfully!  I have tossed props into my bag to use.  So far I have a badminton racquet, horseshoe (as in toss), frisbee and my hiking staff.  I may add more props or wait for the second gig to make things different.

–  Jock strap.  Sounds odd when being asked to figure model doesn’t it?  Well, I almost dismissed this one until I read that some classes or groups ask male models (but not female) to wear a jock strap for posing.  My thoughts are that if I have one with me, I will never be asked to use it.  If I don’t…well, you know the rest.

–  Timer.  Cheap, useful and I don’t have to rely on someone else, especially if they are also drawing, to watch the clock when posing.  This way a 10 minute pose doesn’t become a 20-30 minute pose.

–  Small notebook in case I am lucky enough to have an artist ask me to model for them away from the group.  I am now able to jot down all the info I need.

–  Small portable heater.  You never know if the group will have one available so I put the one I own in.

I really want to make sure I am prepared.  I want to be as inspirational to the models as possible with more dynamic poses.  I don’t want to be “that model” who gets up on the dais and goes through the motions with the same boring poses that artists have drawn before.  While I can’t fool myself into thinking that I will be 100% original, I want to at least be as original as possible.

While I want to be an inspiration to the artists, I have a bit of a selfish agenda.  I want to get bookings.  I want to work.  I loved doing this back in college and should have continued.  It’s not about money, far from it.  It’s about the way figure modeling forced me to become much more comfortable with myself and how I deal with others.  So far this group is taking a risk with me by first of all hiring an unknown to them model and secondly, for 3 straight weeks.  At the end of the 3 weeks, I want to have made a positive impression, enough of one that will keep me in mind for future work either with the group or with artists in private sessions.

 

Countdown to the first night continues.

 

Taking the plunge…again.

Awhile back in my life, roughly 14-15 years ago, I was a semi-broke college student working a minimum wage job to pay for tuition/books/expenses.  That seems to the story of many post secondary students minus the (at the time) small minority who’s family were well off enough not to have them work.

I was always trying to find things to do to increase my earnings, legally of course.  I bought and sold used cars privately and did well.  The downside was that the opportunities didn’t present themselves very often, or at least not often enough to be able to rely on the extra money when it was really needed.  I already attended school full time and had a part time Al Bundy job.  What could I do that would fit into my schedule but not negatively impact my existing full time “job” and part time job?

One day, a friend that I had made a school semi-jokingly suggested that I model for a figure drawing class/course that our college offered.  I had no idea what she meant.  She let me know what was expected…show up, take your clothes off and pose in different ways for a few hours.  Get dressed, get paid, leave.  I laughed at her but in the back of my mind I was truly mulling the idea over.  I had always to that point been a painfully shy type in relation to public nudity.  Locker rooms made me uncomfortable etc.  It was always a rush to get out of my cloths and back into them again as fast as humanly possible.  Don’t make conversation, eye contact and for God’s sake, don’t doddle.

Over the next few weeks I thought about modeling, then dismissed the idea, then thought again, then dismissed it… you see where I’m going?  On any given day I had talked myself into and out of modeling nude about 8-10 times.  I then stopped and decided that I NEEDED to do this.  It really wasn’t about the money, (which at that point in life would be great), it was more about growing as a person, being more comfortable with who I was and gaining confidence.

The next day I went to the art faculty and talked with the instructor of the course.  She was very nice and could tell that I was *just* a little nervous about the whole thing.She made sure I wasn’t in any other art classes or enrolled in the faculty (I wasn’t) and then said she may be in touch.  What I didn’t know then was that they didn’t want students of the faculty to be modeling nude AND attending the same classes with students that saw them nude.

I waited, and waited, and waited some more.  I was at the point where I had dismissed the idea that it would ever actually happen.  All of a sudden, I was contacted by e-mail asking me to model for a class the next week.

My first reaction was, “This is actually going to happen!”  What have I just done???  I feel that I can’t back out, I am a student here and although I wasn’t part of the faculty I felt that I would really be letting people down including my friend who suggested the whole thing.  It also helped (or made me feel guilty) that I had been raised that your word was your bond.  Not much in life meant much if you couldn’t be trusted to follow through.

I knew nothing nor what I was supposed to do.  I showed up, literally shaking at times and was told that there was a robe I could use (why I thought?) and that there was a space in the room behind a divider that I could get undressed at.  I did what I was told to do and came back out in the robe as students started to file in.  I looked at each one and mentally tried to remember if I had ever met or talked to any of them, even to say “sorry” for bumping them in the cafeteria line.  Thankfully, I recognized no one.

The rest was a blur after being asked to remove my robe.  I stood up on the platform they had and held poses (probably pretty bland ones) for the class.  I was told to “wing it” but occasionally the instructor would ask me to pose in a certain way.  Again, I did as I was asked.

At the end of the class, I hopped back off the platform and almost sprinted back to my clothes.  It was one of the scariest and most liberating experiences of my entire life up till then.  I LOVED IT!  I couldn’t wait till the next time I was asked.  I was kicking myself that I had only been told about this with one semester left in my academic career.

Over the next few months I had the opportunity to model every couple of weeks and it got better and better.  I did the occasional modeling for some of the students privately which paid much less as they were just as broke or worse off than me.  I developed some friendships where I would do sessions for free if I knew they were really in a financial bind.

Then, I graduated.  I started building my career and with the art community being so small, the internet in it’s early days and me not knowing where to find modeling jobs, I stopped modeling.

I thought about it off and on over the years and again am looking for extra money at a job that won’t impact my FT career and family demands.  I decided to start surfing around to see what may be available.  I read posts by figure models, read about tips I could use to find work, build a modeling bag etc and generally get back into the swing of things.

I applied at the local art college who were looking for models during the day, evening or weekend.  A couple of months went by and nothing.  I applied with an artist’s group that met once a week.  I was thanked for my interest and was told that my info would be added to their roster of models.  Kind of sounded like a brush off but I had hope.  Over 3 months I would check their site for updates and if models were needed.  Nothing.

Then out of the blue I get an e-mail.  A different group was looking for models RIGHT AWAY.  It was urgent and they were having issues.  Unfortunately it was not enough notice for me to shuffle my schedule but I did contact them to say that I was very interested about future dates.

Then I waited…and waited…and waited for a reply.  I really WANTED this.  I get an e-mail saying that they were changing the dates of the classes and that they were interested in me.  I was very happy.  I called the studio owner and discussed the job, the studio area etc and got a great vibe.  I then e-mailed  my availability and happily received a reply that they want me for at least three back to back to back weeks!

I have already started to practice poses, put my model bag together and get some props ready for the big night.  I am truly happy to be able to get a chance to do this again in my life.  I want to impress, be professional and most of all, be an inspirational tool for the artists who will be drawing me.  My best experiences were when I could really connect with a group and give of myself.

I’m anticipating the plunge…this time hopefully there will be less shaking.