Learning to look at, and translate, a three dimensional body
into a two dimensional drawing is a process that shares some similarities with
photography. However, photography is not usually permitted in life drawing
classes, primarily for the models’ privacy. To take a photograph in a life
class of without the model’s consent, would be intrusive and could change the
act of looking, into something more similar to staring.
I feel uncomfortable when I am photographed, and of
much less value; the photographs make my role as a live model feel redundant. Similarly, life models do not generally
undress in view of artists. Undressing is an intimate act, which when performed
in front of others can have sexual connotations. A life drawing class is an
intimate environment, but not a sexual one, and so undressing is not usually
part of the performance.
Life models will
remove their clothing behind a screen, or in a separate room. A model will
often wear a robe, the removal of which will signify the beginning of a
session, when the model will settle into a pose.
When making this
transition, from clothed to unclothed, this robe gives me the power to control
when a pose begins. However, during this time, it is easy to feel more
vulnerable than when I am posing. The robe is an easy garment to remove,
without feeling as though I am stripping for an audience. It is part of my
uniform, and so it signals to the artists that I am the model for their
However, I behave differently when I am dressed in this way, no longer
the talkative women who arrived at the door, and not yet the nude model posing
confidently for a room of strangers. I am a naked body wrapped in a thin
patterned fabric as if caught by the postman knocking at the door, before I’ve got dressed for the day.
“When I remove my
robe and strike a pose, I will become still
and quiet. My personality is paused and my body becomes the focus of the artists’ attention.”
I prefer not to
speak or be spoken to when I am modelling, as this allows me to focus on
maintaining my pose. This silence gives me a kind of strength. I am not a passive statue; I have a physical
When I have posed, I
once again wear my robe, so that I might talk with the artists and view their outcomes.
Now I am both model, and artist. I give supportive feedback and considered
critiques, all while wearing this robe.
The poses I have
performed have given my body a purpose, made me into an object of art. When I
am reanimated, something has changed. Something subtle, a line has been crossed
which is hard to explain. I have drifted between being a naked woman and a nude