Artists sometimes forget the model is a human being too

One thing that I have always prided myself about my group is that we treat our models like gold. It is very disturbing to me when I find out that some artists have been unkind or disrespected one (or more) of my models. Yes, I confess, I still think of these people as “my” models, and I am very protective of them.

I think it is because when I was in University I remember some of the comments made to the models by other students that horrified me, comments made to me by my models when they worked at other places about how they were treated. I could see how these things affected them, and I don’t accept when it happens to others. MOST ESPECIALLY when these are people who have graciously consented to be a model for our benefit. Yes, they are paid, however, just because they are paid does not give ANY ONE license to be rude or unkind or ungrateful.

Now what exactly do I consider rude or unkind or ungrateful? I am going to be very blunt:

Comments that have to do with a person’s appearance – how they did their hair, how old (or young) they are, what their body type is, how thin or not, physical challenges. THESE things you keep to yourself, and keep your mouth SHUT – how would you like it if they were said to YOU?  If you don’t like what poses they go in to – then the NEXT pose, ask them for something specific. For THAT pose, deal with it, you’re an adult, aren’t you? Our models have been trained, either by me, or someone else, to ask the artists if they are working on something specific, and if you say nothing, then that means you will go with the flow. So go with the flow!

When a model is going in to position, unkind remarks, impatient remarks, or inconsiderate remarks are not appreciated. Remember that modeling is definitely not easy. Models can not read your mind, they can not see what it is that you want, and remember most especially that the body will only bend certain ways. Remember that not all models take pilates or yoga and no one is Gumby. If you become impatient with any model, or make any unkind remarks, I am sure I can arrange for YOU to be the model that day. Imagine THAT for a second. 🙂

If it is a regular session (ie poses 20 minutes) and you came prepared for one or two hour long poses (ie you brought one canvas) quite frankly that is YOUR problem, not the models, so don’t complain to them, or to anyone else. If you have been attending these classes for some time, then you should know what the routine is, you know where the calendar can be found (and if you don’t, it is here.). Don’t expect everyone else to bend to your agenda. Come prepared next time.

If a model needs to do stretches (most do), and you don’t like to do gestures, then don’t come for that period, or learn what gestures are really about and make them work for you! Gestures and short poses are a way for the model to enter in to their modeling “space” or “mindset”. Honour that! If you don’t like the pose, then find a creative positive way to deal with this challenge, make it work for you! Muttering under your breath, or chatting up your neighbour is not the thing to do.

All I can tell you is that rude or ungrateful comments are very hurtful to any models. Remember they are few and far between, and we are extremely LUCKY to have the people we do. I do not enjoy writing posts like this however it is necessary, and maybe someone will benefit from the description of drawing class etiquette.

So what is drawing session etiquette? Well, what follows is a fairly general list, but one that seems to work very well for Livessence:

  1. You come to class about ten minutes before and get set up so that when drawing session starts, you are ready to go. This is for your benefit, not anyone else’s.
  2. During the set up time, see if you can make contact with the model and tell them of any projects you are working on, to see if they can give you the specific poses you are looking for.
  3. During the session, the model will usually ask if there is anything specific the artists would like to see – use this time to communicate to the model (if you haven’t already) about your requested pose(s).
  4. Talking or not talking is up to the people who are there. If the majority are not talking, then consider keeping your chatter to a minimum.
  5. Bring an ipod or other music device with earplugs. Please try not to sing, or dance. 😀
  6. Bring all your own materials and do not mootch.
  7. During break, feel free to talk to other participants, ask about their methods, consider trading materials if it comes up.
  8. Be respectful of break times.
  9. Keep personal comments to a model to a minimum or not at all. Consider viewing the model as a member of royalty far above you, and you should be grateful and feel lucky to draw them. 😉

I don’t think there is ever a problem in erring on the side of politeness and respect, in any sort of dealings. Be polite. Be kind. Just because you are the artist, you are not above the model, they are not your servant. Remember, the model ALLOWS you to draw them.

I welcome comments of any kind.

4 Replies to “Artists sometimes forget the model is a human being too”

  1. Posted for Wendy Penner, one of our wonderful artists who comes in from Vernon to draw:

    Re: Model treatment.

    I suppose that persons innocently ignorant of procedure or protocol need to be educated however, it is a sad day when the educating is informing adults how to treat one another with consideration and respect. It is no wonder you felt so badly yesterday Julia. I am sorry that this petty and ridiculous need falls on your shoulders and I respect your “proprietorial” protection of a much nurtured and valued resource.

    I was not present at any of the sessions where the infractions occurred so I held my tongue during the discussions. I do however, feel compelled to comment on the feed back received during yesterdays discussion.

    It was commented by attendees of a particular drawing session of concern; that the mood of the model was less than co-operative when a “prop” was requested to be removed from her hair and ensuing requests found her even less amenable to their “suggestions”. I cannot think of many women who would be happy about that type of criticism or “request” – especially if that is all she is wearing! It might just have put me in a “bitchy” mood too! I can tell you from personal experience that much thought was put to her task, her presentation and performance prior to disrobing for the session.

    For the record: having trained as an illustrator, I have been privileged to attend life drawing classes and session of all kinds since 1972 as well as model myself. Modelling is not an easy task on so many levels both physically and mentally. The model will have received her/his instructions from the co-ordinator and that is what the mandate for the session becomes. If there are variations or flexibility in the length or type of poses, the model will propose them. If adornment has been included in their presentation then the artist has the choice to edit this out or to take up the very real and exciting and educational challenge of drawing it – that is why you are there – to develop your skills not design the session to your strengths. The model has just exposed her/his self … so then can the artist; by drawing what is before you … as is the very essence of life drawing.

    I for one am both excited and grateful for every life drawing session I have attended at Livessence. I especially relish the new and unexpected.

    Thank you Julia

  2. Good for you! There is no way to guarantee that people who can draw, are necessarily “enlightened beings ” who do not need to consider the models just like the artists/photographer. “I am that, You are that, That is that” — “when you are in that place in yourself, and I am in that place in myself, we are one. NAMASTE Dee Miller

  3. Gentle lady:

    Re “Artists sometimes forget the model is a human being too”, thank you for seeing the person inside that one-button suit on the dais. Those aren’t Disney audioanimatronic machines up there. They are living, feeling, sensitive men and women who do something that probably 99.9% of their critics wouldn’t do at gunpoint: be nude in front of a group of strangers for a couple of hours for the sake of art.

    Your kindness and concern are deeply appreciated. It would be a joy to pose for your group. Peace and blessings!

    Bob R

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