For some women, the decision to try life modelling may precipitate a considerable shift in the way they are perceived by their peers, family and any other acquaintances. If you’ve never been perceived as a femme fatale, I’m not saying it’s guaranteed when you bare all for artists, however the confidence which you begin to manifest regardless of your traits pertaining to conventional beauty, may attract new attention.
What you do with this is of course your own business! The point is if your associates are surprised by your choice of activity/occupation, they may treat you differently. This can range from overnight being considered some sort of prostitute, to the pleasant surprise and genuine appreciation that you are comfortable in your skin. There is still a lot of taboo about nudity even here – London – and now in 2011. I hope this dissipates, but sadly women from certain cultures may be a long way off such freedom. If I tried to recruit among some of them I’d surely receive death threats.
Obviously not everyone cares to try the open nudity thing! Including those among us who are quite comfortable with themselves, while others will consider it unnecessarily provocative, and as going against their higher principles.
The effects of life modelling are individual to each of us. If you have a bold, independent persona then you may hardly be affected, or on a different angle it may be the peace and stillness which makes an impression.
There is an undeniably sexual element to life modelling. While the traditional mainstream strand of the scene has no business acknowledging this, it is invariably a factor, though not ever present. It’s no surprise that the most sought after models for commercial artists looking to sell work, are young(ish) female slim or curvy dancers or performers. As it stands most models fall into this category, but for that reason, other types corner their own niche more easily. There is a demand for all types, and what is most important is that the model enjoys what they are doing and exudes presence, connecting with artists.
The upshot of the attention received as an artist’s model is that one must have or develop a thick skin. You may need to be able to deflect unwanted attention while remaining professional; you must also be prepared to put up with being discussed as if an object during an art class. Each part of your body is considered as a technical detail in a landscape to be captured on paper. It is measured – though not up close unless it is for sculpture in which case calipers are wielded against you – and discussed as mass, tone, bulk and bone.
Other untutored groups may operate in ambient silence almost holy for its concentration.
Guidelines may be given on poses preferred, but usually choice of pose is the model’s prerogative. Each model it ought to be understood, knows his/her body best and further, poses are produced in sequence. By this I mean that there is often little time to relax between poses, so one tends to follow a pose with a countering poise, sharing the stress in alternating muscle groups. Other factors of performance may come into play, so that a sequence appears to tell a story, or a model directs her gaze to a fresh direction with each new move.
One thing I noticed with the Spirited Bodies event, was that the new models had something we professionals lost a long time ago!! A certain element of rabbits-caught-in-the-headlights did come to mind. This made them unquantifiably fascinating to watch. How they unfolded with each new pose and with each moment of being there, just being there. Their faces of shock and bewilderment turning slowly sometimes to curiosity and engagement. I was awed, fixated and unmovable for a while myself just watching. I’d never seen so many artists there (indeed it was a record-breaking turn out).