I just thought of a funny thing

For years, I have experienced a dream where I am naked for some reason, in a public setting.  I may be in college attending a class, etc. and I am either completely nude or nude from the waist down.  At the start of the dream, it’s not bothering me at all, or very much.  By the end of the dream, I am completely embarrassed and trying to either hide or cover myself or break away from what I am doing in the dream to find clothes.  No one is ridiculing me in any way or even seems to notice my nudity.

  I had always wondered why I had these dreams, I know that many of us have them at some point.  They weren’t happening on a regular basis, but they did happen.  I just had the realization the other week that shortly after I started figure modeling, this particular dream has disappeared almost overnight.  it’s been well over 8 months since I can remember having this type of dream…and I guess I could link it back to my increased comfort of what I do, and with who I am.  I have talked previously about the sense of freedom most people get from nude modeling, and how it can translate into other areas of your life.  For me, I am a calmer person, especially after a drawing session, and I have more of an attitude of “This is me.  I am happier with myself than ever before, take it or leave it.”  Much less fretting about what others think, or even wondering what they think.

I know not everyone gets to experience the feeling of freedom that nude modeling has given me.  I read a post by an artist who tried modeling recently, and she did not experience the rush at all, and did not enjoy the experience, which is too bad.  I am one of the lucky ones who truly enjoys doing this, and does not see an end to my modeling career any time soon.

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Another try

Every so often I go on the hunt for new work depending on my schedule.  Sometimes work comes to me, most often I go to it by contacting groups.  This Spring and Summer haven’t been too bad for work.  I would be happy with a little more but considering that classes and some groups shut down for the summer months, I still have dates booked that will keep me somewhat busy.

When looking for more opportunities, I always check the local universities, colleges and art institutes.  I noticed about a year ago the local art institute had a posting up for casual position art models.  I applied, and at the time had no fresh experience, only my experience from 14 years previously.  They were looking mostly for day time availability, which is not generally possible for me, and some evening and weekend work.  I applied and heard nothing.  Again this year, they are looking for models, same specifications so I applied again.  This time, I highlighted my fresh experience with the groups, classes (emphasized that I worked have been working with instructed classes) and private artists, and mentioned my founding of the local figure model guild.  The competition closes at the end of August but as there is more than one spot open, I am hoping that I have a better chance at being granted an interview, and hopefully be added to their active list of available models.  I had mentioned to a few artists and group coordinators that I had applied previously and did not hear back.  They were surprised as this organization is in chronic need of models, and almost every group I work with tells me about how hard it is to find models, both male and female, at the best of times.

Wish me luck!

Being able to give back through modeling.

Out of the recent catastrophe that Ma Nature visited upon the city I call home, I was able to give something back through my figure modeling.  I sat watching the events unfold, hoping that those I knew and associated with would either be spared or at the least, be safe and hopefully not lose too much.  Unfortunately, an artist who I had worked for previously had major damage to his home, and his studio.  The house was rendered uninhabitable until it was cleaned up and repairs made, and his studio sustained major damage including the loss of his supplies and many pieces of work he created.  I can’t begin to imagine the loss, it would be crushing.

Before this event, the artist in question was holding another drawing event.  Of course, he had to cancel it.  Luckily, other artists wanted to keep it going and turned it into a fund raising event.  I saw this was in the works and contacted the new coordinator with an offer to donate my services for free, the fee going to the artist in question instead.  She managed to get a respectable number of other artists to attend the event, on a different day, and also find enough models who would donate their time and fees as well.  I hate to toot my own horn but in addition to offering my services, I helped another fantastic new model get her first nude gig at the event and was present to help with a pose and the set up.  She had joined the model guild that I set up and also I helped get her a paying gig.

I loved being able to help an artist in need and loved being able to help get another model get work/experience, especially as she had never modeled nude before.  It was a wonderful feeling to be able to ease a new model into nude work and find them work, unlike what I went through.  The guild is growing and helping a new model gave me a glimpse of what I want the guild to turn into.  Easing new models into gigs, helping with poses and giving tips and more about what is a good pose and which ones will turn body parts numb.  Personally, it was very fulfilling and gratifying to be able to hep others.

“I’ve seen boring, and you’re not boring at all.”

Possibly one of the nicest compliments I have received so far.  I had been invited to pose for a new figure drawing group a little over a week ago which happens to be located incredibly close to where I live.  I arrived a little early to set up and attracted some attention it seemed by the car I was driving that day, my ’75 Volkswagen Beetle.  I talked with one of the group coordinators and then set myself up, which was pretty quick as the pose space was ready to go with a large pillow, a stool and a box footstool for props if I wanted to use them.

The group started with 1 minute gestures, then some 3 minutes and then 3 ten minutes then a break.  I was wondering if I was going to run out of ideas for poses as the 1 minute gestures went on for a longer time than I am used to.  I have to admit, I find the 1 minute gestures daunting at the same time as I find them fun.  Daunting as I am forced to keep thinking of INTERESTING poses in a rapid fire way, while they are fun for the most part, to hold as they are dynamic and hopefully, interesting to draw.  I enjoy it in an odd way as it makes me grow as a model and I do get to try fun poses that would be impossible to hold for 5+ minutes.

After the session ended, as people were packing up, I had a number of the group come over to me, thanking me and also commenting on my poses etc.  I said to one artist that I was always worried about  being boring so do what I can to make sure I have foreshadowing, negative space and more.  His reply was, “You have absolutely nothing to worry about.  I’ve seen boring, and you’re not boring at all.”  That felt great.  I love meeting new groups to pose for but I love being invited back even more so I am hoping that I get that chance.

Happily I also seem to becoming the “go to model” at one venue I have been posing for.  I was a fill in for their last session of classes and then when the new batch started, I was contacted to fill some dates again.  I was/am thrilled.  On top of this, last week they contacted me saying that they had the next week’s model cancel and asked if I could fill the spot.  Done!  I suppose it helps that I can take 1/2 vacation days during the week so am available in the afternoons or mornings with notice.  I am hopefully going to be on the roster for the fall classes and also be asked for a portrait class as well.

I have also been looking at body painting artists and have been trying to get involved with artists who want to practice or have a show.  I think this would be wonderful.  I have always wanted to take part in the Solstice Cyclists in Seattle…maybe one day soon I will get the chance.

 

New progress on starting the guild

In my last post I talked about forming a local guild for figure models with access for artists and groups as well.  I have liberally lifted ideas from other people and guilds on how they work and how they are set up.  The draw back for me is that I had to create something that worked with the amount of time I have currently have to devote to it, while making it appealing for the models.  I thought I had everything worked out, but as we all know, you don’t have the bugs worked out the first time out and others are going to suggest changes.

I set up a site to handle the info.  Tabs for current news, posts, female models, male models, art events, art/drawing groups info, policies etc and populated them with all the current info I had, again, lifting some info from other people and sites but just copying it.  It was tweaked here and there to reflect our location.  I stated the pay scales (more on that later!) what was expected of the models and also the artists and groups that want to hire them.

I did get and still have support from many artists and groups with the guild.  Everyone was and still is very happy that something local is being created to help grow and improve the local model population.  As I discussed with people, I also wanted to help teach new models and gently weed out the “not so good ones” or ones that were getting into it for the wrong reasons.  I was and am still very aware that I don’t want to appear as playing God etc., and that many models in the area have more overall experience than I do, which is why I invited everyone to submit ideas and thoughts about the site that I could add.  While I did receive a large amount of positive criticism and support, one particular model started out giving hints and tips that quickly became more like demands and admonishment, in particular the info I had posted about the pay scale that models should expect.  I did more than a little research on the topic and found that most groups and classes pay anywhere from $45-$60 for a 3 hour session.  The art college and city run classes pay roughly $16.75/hr, and the length of time varies which affects a model’s pay.  A 2.5 hour session can pay $43.XX.  The info was factual and correct but I was taken to task about it.  I was admonished and told that this particular model was very concerned that by posting this, it would give the idea to other groups that pay more that they could be in fact, paying less.  While I did not see this becoming an issue or a real concern, I did amend the info slightly and highlighted that groups generally paid $50-$60 a session which was generally 3 hours long.  I was told by the model that contacted me that she has been paid upwards of $80 a session.  While I will not call into question this statement, I did not add this info as 1.) I’m pretty sure it was a rare occurrence and I could not independently verify it, and 2.) I didn’t want the drawing groups feeling pressured into hiking their pay rates as I know that for many, almost all of the fee money they collect on a night goes to the model.  Why make them either struggle to pay or be forced to hike their fee for artists and possibly lose some of them.  Don’t get me wrong, I fully support models being paid a fair rate in line with the current trends but I’m not going to set out to try to encourage an overall price and pay hike for all.  It will gradually increase and as I pointed out the person who was concerned, while I support fair pay, the number of models where I live compared to the number of sessions available will never allow (at this point) for a model to make a living from the fees.

I was also concerned about the support I would get from established models.  I knew that most likely the newer models and anyone interested in being a model would be willing to be part of the guild but I am finding out that interest from established people is not high.  I think part of this stems from many being comfortable with the way things currently are which is work is found by word of mouth or that they have all the contacts already and are established and don’t see the added value of being part of the guild.  I don’t view word of mouth as being a great way to find work or to have artists and groups aware of new talent.  While I have been told many times that my info will be shared, I have to guess that it stops there.  There are the best of intentions but I found that a large majority of my work has been found by me looking for it, not waiting for someone else to tell someone else that I exist.

It’s going to take time to build a following and model base, I am and was prepared for that as much as I was prepared for the long slow climb when I started to model again.  I just wanted to help others lessen their frustration in finding work and contacts.  I don’t know if many good models may have quit due to the seemingly impenetrable cocoon built up about finding available work.  If there have been, that has been a real loss to the artistic community.

While the model, pardon the wording, for the site will evolve over time as I can devote more time to it, as it stands, models e-mail me their info to post in the proper tabs.  A concern was voiced, again by the same model who voiced a concern about pay scale, that having that info out for the world to see was not a good idea.  I countered that they had the right to say exactly what was posted and how much info was on display.  They can use first name only, and only an e-mail contact and/or a phone number as well.  I ask for them to write up a short description of their experience etc just so it isn’t “Bob: bob@gmail.com” under model info.  For those that do not want their contact info posted, I have offered to have interested parties contact me though the site and I would pass along their info for the model.  After that, it is up to the model as an adult to decide to contact the interested party etc.  I placed a lot of info in a tab about common sense safety tips for models, asking for references, meeting in a public place to discuss the session and see/vet that they are genuine, asking to bring a chaperone with (and not to take work if this request is denied).  I feel that the people involved in this are adults and they should be treated as such.  I was a little annoyed that the concern seemed to focus only on the safety of female models, and particularly the younger ones and the person who was voicing the concern seemed to thing that all young people were blindly stupid about their personal safety.  Also, I guess nothing bad can happen to a male model…in their mind.  I want all models to be safe, not just one gender but people also have to use common sense.  I know that it isn’t all that common these days.

I had to chuckle that after all the tips and ideas that I was given, I was told that they were more comfortable with the current system of “word of mouth” and that they would not be taking part in the guild.  <insert rolling eyes here>.  While I appreciated most of the info I was given, I was a little annoyed that someone would gripe about things to have them changed (for their benefit more than anything else) and then not take part.  Oh well, live and learn.  It got me down a bit but you just have to shake things like this off and continue on.

 

 

 

 

 

Starting a local figure model guild

This has been on my mind for a little while now.  Where I live, there isn’t a cohesive group of models.  Finding work for a model, especially a new one, can be daunting and a bit depressing as I found when looking for new work.  I thought that there could be a better way, a way of having a place, even if it’s virtual, for models to have their info, ideas, tips, etc. to help themselves and others along with the info of all the different drawing groups in the area both so they could be know to artists but also so they could contact and hopefully hire new models.

When speaking to many of the places I have modeled, it is a constant complaint that it is difficult to find models, or at least reliable ones.  I am hoping to build this group into one where the members take their modeling seriously, and work to erase the stigma and idea that models can be flaky, cancelling at the last moment, or just not showing at all.  It would be nice to also have the member models be ones that have a passion for figure modeling and are not just trying it out to cross it off a life’s bucket list or just decide that after a few times, it isn’t for them.  New models can have educational tips and contacts for any questions they may have.  I hope to partner with a gallery or drawing group a few times a year to help train new models, to make sure they are capable of modeling.  I still have the view that anyone can take their cloths off, as long as they have the nerve to do so.  What is also needed are those who put thought and effort into their poses and work not to be bland, drift or break the poses.

I’m sure that starting this new effort may ruffle some feathers of those who think the current system is working.  The current system being new people pop up who want to model for whatever reason, good or bad, don’t know where to look for work, and once a group takes a chance on them, they may or may not show up to the session and if they do, there is a high chance that it won’t be all that good.  Also, anyone who is serious about modeling and wants to find more work has to rely on artists or group coordinators to pass along their information.  While the world is full of good intentions, a model cannot guarantee that this will be happening.  I personally like to contact new places myself.  While I do not discourage anyone from passing along my info to those they know may be hiring, I don’t hold my breath that something will come of it. 

I know that some established models may also look at it as a bit of a threat.  Being established and well known, some people don’t want the competition of new models, especially ones that may be good, cutting into the bookings they are currently getting.  Depending on the number of venues where you live that offer figure drawing mixed with the number of models and sessions available, the more established models that some groups have been booking, possibly more because they are reliable than anything else, may start to find their number of bookings decrease.  I hope that this mindset isn’t the case but have to be prepared just in case.

I’m interested to see if this idea will take off and grow.  I suppose only time and effort will tell.

Business cards, i can’t say enough about them.

Things are picking up and this is due to my continued research into local figure drawing groups but also, due to the business cards I had printed up and have been handing out or leaving at different venues that I have modeled at.  These things are spreading like the Ebola Virus! 

I talked a while ago about self promotion and getting new work and mentioned that I had a set of business cards done up for me.  VistaPrint is always giving out offers of 250 free business cards, you just pay shipping.  Well, for about $15 in shipping costs, I had this number of cards done up for me, and they look great.  You can choose your graphics, layout, what to add for info etc.  It was great and when they arrived, I was really impressed.  While this isn’t a specific plug for VistaPrint, it is a plug for any model who is trying to find work, to get business cards printed up and start handing them out to anyone remotely interested in you or finding figure models. 

So far I can safely say that about 50% of the sessions I have booked have been because of the business cards and the other 50% from me cold calling/e-mailing groups about their figure drawing nights and classes.  I am happy to say that I have now started to get repeat bookings from groups (again who contacted me because of the cards and cold calling), and that I wouldn’t be nearly as far a head meeting local artists and groups, if I hadn’t gotten them printed.

I was pleasantly surprise to be contacted by a new group last weekend to fill in at the last minute for a model who cancelled.  While I called back too late to get the next day’s session (they had found a model thankfully), I was asked about my availability for the weekend after and was booked.  It’s a new group that I have never modeled for nor knew they existed, all due to them having a card of mine.  I don’t even know if I handed it to the model coordinator personally or if it was picked up at another location.  Either way, it’s a bonus.

 

Double Booked

Well, I have run into instances where models have been no shows (leading to my opportunity to model instead), and other things but I haven’t mentioned my experience with the “double booking”.

While a model pulling a no show, burning an artist or figure drawing group in the process is much more common, I experienced a double booking, something I was not prepared for, but I think the situation was handled very well.

I turned up to model for a weekly drawing group that I had modeled for before that night.  Recently, they had changed coordinators for the drawing group and I was happy to be contacted by the new coordinator.  I was also happy to accept the invitation to model for them on the agreed date and that was that.  I showed up early, as I like to do, and when I arrived complete with my modeling bag and hiking staff, I was greeted with a “Oh, I think we are double booked for models tonight.”  I also had a chuckle that it was mentioned that they weren’t going to argue with me about who was going to stay to model as I came armed.  It turned out that the former coordinator booked a model for the new coordinator without mentioning it.  Of course, the new coordinator booked a model, me, as she thought no one was booked.

We had a good natured laugh about it.  The new coordinator apologized a number of times about it, I told her that it was no trouble.  The other model and I worked it out between the two of us.  I offered for her to model that night and was going to ask the coordinator just to book me the next week or within a couple of weeks instead.  The other model decided she wanted the night off instead, and I modeled that night and she booked for the next week.

It was nice to be able to work something out so easily and quickly.  I know that some people would get very upset by something like this (I could see it if it was an occurring issue) but I was pretty happy to come back another week.  It got me thinking about if it was the venue, the people involved or something else that made this an easy, amicable situation to solve.  I know other places and situations could have become heated, someone would get annoyed by lack of “professionalism” and other things.  I think that it mainly had to do with the people involved and the type of people this art group attracts.  Very laid back, very communal type people.  I love modeling for them just because they are such a happy group.  They chat to each other during the drawing session, helping each other out with techniques or just generally chatting.  As I have mentioned, some models or other artists may find this distracting or annoying but I find it refreshing.  I love to “eavesdrop” on the conversations, I have a great chuckle at a lot of what is said and find the process to be very organic and energetic.

I hope that if I am ever in the same or similar situation with another artist or drawing group that there would be a similar cooperative outcome.

While I didn’t start this blog to reblog other people’s posts, I thought that I would share this.
From a model standpoint, I found this to be very interesting. I think all models have or will run into these circumstances. I also firmly believe that male models work against a stigma in the art world to some extent and that there is a silent, and sometimes vocal, admission about discrimination against using male models.

Crooning Dog

When I go to drawing sessions, hell, since I went to art school (insert Star Wars opening here) there is one comment I over hear from other artists that drives me insane… “What a lousy pose“. Wrong. It’s not a lousy pose, there are no lousy poses, nor bad ones, lame ones, dull, or boring. It’s your job as an artist to make any subject into an interesting image, not the model’s. I don’t think Ansel Adams ever stood in front of a mountain and said, “What a lame looking pile of dirt“.  It is what it is, and an artist finds the framing, composition, or angle that best explores the subject. What most art students, or even professional artists, really mean when they look at a pose and say this is, “I don’t LIKE this view.” There are two easy solutions…

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Why I do this.

When I thought of this question, which was posed by my wife when I told her that I wanted to start modeling again, I thought it was a straight forward, easy to answer question.  The more I think about it, the more reasons there seem to be that I am back modeling or even started modeling in the first place.  The reasons have changed over the years as much as I have.

As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I started out modeling for figure drawing classes and artists about 15-16 years ago while I was in college.  While I was able to pay my tuition, books, gas, car repairs etc., there was very little left over afterwards that I could call my own and I was always looking for ways to make a buck.  I bought and sold used cars that were usually offered to me for free or very little money.  Those opportunities, while very lucrative, did not happen often enough to rely on as a reliable extra source of income.  I worked an Al Bundy job at a local big box store which was my main income.  I thought I did well there (for part time) but again, after weekly expenses and saving for the next tuition installment payment, very little was left.  A friend at college mentioned that the art department was looking for models (nude) for the figure drawing classes and that I should check it out.  My first thought was that she was screwing with me.  Me, kind of shy in new situations, very modest in situations where public nudity was called for (locker rooms etc), a nude model?  Me, the one with some body issues and a little extra weight?  No likely.  I scoffed at her suggestion and that was pretty much the end of it…

Over the coming weeks, I kept revisiting our discussion in my mind.  I was intrigued by the idea and the thought of extra money, while the thought of pudgy me in the middle of a mixed group naked made me go white (OK, whiter than I am).  I eventually psyched myself up to go to the art department and apply, and the rest is history.  As I have said, I kick myself that I didn’t know of the opportunity the minute I started college.

Now a good number of years have passed since college and I am again thinking of why I am doing this.  I have an 18 month old and while my family isn’t struggling, I am always on the lookout for ways to make extra money, either for hobbies or family expenses.  I thought about getting another P/T Bundy job a few nights a week, then thought better of it.  Then, it hit me out of the blue.  Why no modeling again?  I loved it, I was relatively busy with work when at college, I should let my mouse do the clicking to see what the local art scene is like these days and what the demand is. It’s something that you can tailor your availability, and how much you want to work (I found out quick that being new tailored the amount of work I would get for me!).  I know I can never live on the money that modeling brings in but that was never the main purpose.  I looked at it as a way to get back to what I had loved doing, make a little money, have some out of the house “me time”, and contribute to the local art community.

Thank goodness for the Internet.  It made my re-entry back to modelling one lesser roadblock.  At least I could research local artists/groups/galleries to see what opportunities were out there.  I wrote up a little info about me and started to e-mail anyone remotely interested in figure drawing, who ran groups or classes and others.  I then sat back and naively thought that the offers would start to roll in.  HA!  a few months went by with absolutely no replies to my e-mails whatsoever.  I was starting to think about giving up this dream of modeling again and do something else for some money when I got an e-mail from a group asking me to model on short notice.  I just got my foot in the door and away i went.  Now, though networking and cold e-mailing, I have picked up more sessions and am getting to know the artists and coordinators in the local community.

So, was doing this only about the money?  No… at first it was in college but as I did it, the more I got to love it.  At the time I didn’t think about it but it changed who I was in no small way.  I went from being shy and very uncomfortable in nude social settings, to a sense of “Meh.  I was naked just yesterday in front of that incredibly gorgeous girl who I had never met before, why am I nervous about making this speech or meeting this new person etc?  It ceased (for the most part) to make me uptight which started to work itself into other areas of my life.

Now that I am modeling again, it is bringing me things and feelings that I never noticed before or appreciated.  I love being part of something.  I love being the muse or part of the creative process with artists, even if I am only standing there.  I do get the opportunity to converse back and forth about some poses and bounce ideas back and forth and that is wonderful.  I love meeting new people, people who are very open and honest (again, for the most part) about themselves and their art.  I have only had one negative experience so far and luckily it only got me down for a short while.  Being drawn nude is liberating.  It’s exhilarating, it’s fun, it’s freedom.  For the most part, it’s non-judgemental.  You aren’t being viewed as too fat, too thin, too tall, too short etc., you are being looked at as an object (a good thing) to draw.  It’s non-sexual.  You are who you are and I am finding that artists near me at actually getting tired of the models who think they have to be chiseled gym-rat gods to do this.  I have extra pounds but instead of being shy about this, it’s something that is more interesting to artists.  I get a feeling of empowerment from modeling that cannot be matched by many things in life and it’s a high that lasts for days for me after a session.

Another reason I model was actually picked up by an artist I was talking with at a session.  She (and others I find) had asked me why I modeled and how I got into it.  I am finding that the “broke college student” start to modeling is pretty common. I also talked about my paternal grandmother who was an amazing self taught artist.  I was always in awe of her skill which unfortunately has not filtered down the genes yet.  She did mostly pastels but I own 4 of her works that I have displayed in my office at work or are currently hung up at home.  While she was never well known of famous, she was to our family for her talent.  I always was very impressed by what she could do.  As I talked about her and her talent to this artist, they remarked “Then you’re doing this in tribute to her.”.  That stopped me dead in my tracks.  i hadn’t thought about that but in a way, they were right.  I am not on the brush side of the canvas but in my own small way, I can still contribute to art and artists and remember what my grandmother accomplished.  I took a break 15 years ago but I don’t plan on doing that again.

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