How To Pose ~ Guidelines for Life Models at Spirited Bodies

  • # What you do with your eyes is up to you. If you wear glasses you may prefer to model without, that way you won’t be distracted by which artists are looking at you and where. On the other hand, being able to see artists may give you a more direct energetic contact with them, which can in turn feed into their picture.
  • # For longer poses in particular, fixing your eyes on one point in the room is a useful way to aid meditation, stilling the mind. It lends you a more striking quality too as you seem focused.
  • # You can’t always fake it – if you’re not in the mood, sometimes it’s better to address that. Don’t be too strict and allow yourself to move the one part of your body which is a little freer – your face.
  • # If you’re really not feeling it, it’s ok. Break the pose, have a stretch, or just leave the room. If you can let us know why then great, if not don’t worry.
  • # Go with what suits you. It’s good to push yourself, but your posing should reflect who you are. If you’re a slacker, just let that be. If you’re an athlete, bring that out. There’s somethings we can only suggest, the rest is in your hands. You are all different and that’s what makes this amazing.
  • # If you can find connections with other models, go with it. If it’s not happening, just listen to your own body.
  • # Listening to your body is key. Moving from one pose to the next can be like a sequence telling a story from your body. Also you can alternate muscle groups from one pose to the next so that your comfort is afforded.
  • # You will get uncomfortable. How much you want to push yourself is up to you. I still regularly get myself in regrettable poses which make me wish I’d never accepted the job. But I also know that by the next pose or the break, I will have a sense of reward and achievement. Obviously if it’s really awful I stop.
  • # Nip it in the bud – the tingles. If you feel pins and needles coming on, do something early on, or it will get exponentially worse. Don’t feel bad about this.
  • # Emotional issues may arise for some of you; this is normal. There can be a sense of vulnerability to modelling nude, plus you have much quiet time to think. You may feel stuck there like an object and any awkward sensations relating to this could be ripe for emerging. Don’t try to block it, and don’t let it overcome you either. Take your time, do what you need to do. We want you to enjoy yourselves most of all and have a positive experience.
I contrast poses here which suggest positions of power and vulnerability in turn
  • # Seamless continuity of group pose. This is an unusual scenario – and it is not modelled on a traditional life drawing session. You probably won’t all change pose at the same time. I may suggest to each of you when it’s a good time to change pose, or you may decide to do so independently. This way most of the group pose appears to remain the same for the duration, with only subtle changes happening throughout.
  • # Listen to your body and each other! You are part of a bigger picture telling a story of individuals as well as collectively.
One of Alex B's images from the last Spirited Bodies @ Drawing Theatre

Author: estherbunting

Performer, artist, writer

10 thoughts on “How To Pose ~ Guidelines for Life Models at Spirited Bodies”

  1. ‘You may feel stuck there like an object and any awkward sensations relating to this could be ripe for emerging. Don’t try to block it, and don’t let it overcome you either. Take your time, do what you need to do. We want you to enjoy yourselves most of all and have a positive experience.’

    That’s an interesting and curious comment you make there but not sure exactly what it is you mean by it.

  2. Ok I will be honest and say this comment came from my perspective as a woman. As a woman I have felt objectified on occasions. This is complex in nature, though I do not believe unusual. That is objectified as in sexually. There may be men who have also experienced this undoubtedly, but there are probably fewer men than women who are aware of this. The comment is I suppose directed to anyone who like me has felt this way. If it does not apply to you then you probably don’t need to worry about it.
    I also know that modelling for the first time can bring up unexpected emotions in some people. I just wanted to offer some sense of warning about this to prepare people and also to let them know that I am aware of these eventualities which they may already be considering.
    Thanks for asking as I sometimes lose sight of what is less than obvious and could do with being clearer. I hope this is clear(er) now.

  3. If you have ever felt objectified then life modelling could bring feelings relating to that to the surface. You are still and although you have chosen to be there you may not have considered how you may feel 15 minutes into a 30 minute pose. Physical discomfort may turn your attention to other awkward sensations.
    Hopefully you will feel at ease and may be high on adrenaline and the buzz of the exciting occasion.

  4. “You will get uncomfortable. How much you want to push yourself is up to you. I still regularly get myself in regrettable poses which make me wish I’d never accepted the job. But I also know that by the next pose or the break, I will have a sense of reward and achievement. Obviously if it’s really awful I stop.”

    I know exactly what you’re talking about–there’s nothing worse than slipping into a pose, and suddenly realizing that several minutes in, you really, really wished you chose a slightly different pose 😦 It’s amazing how subtly shifting your weight can mean all the difference between a comfortable pose, and one that you can’t wait to break out of.

    I remember a few months ago, I chose a pose where I was standing, with my torso twisted, and putting the bulk of the weight on one leg. Oddly, while this was strenuous, it didn’t feel *that* bad.

    What DID make it bad was that where I chose to look was through the window. For some reason, the way the light was coming in through the blinds was making me feel dizzy (it didn’t at first, as it was indirect light, but after a few minutes, I found my eyes feeling rather “jumpy”). So naturally I’m straining my muscles even more, because my body’s trying to overcompensate for the dizziness. I think I found myself trying to telepathically speed up time at some point 🙂

    Fortunately, it was a great group to work for, and they suggested making my pose a bit shorter towards the end, just so I was comfortable.

    And I love your advice on listening to your body–if you come off a long standing pose and then have to get into another pose, consider a seated pose, or at least another standing pose that shifts your weight a bit. I learned that one out the hard way 😦

    Terrific post–I really enjoyed reading these guidelines!

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