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.