Communicating a Pose: from Model to Artist (to canvas)

My practical application of life drawing techniques is pretty ropey. I’ve heard and seen a lot; but done – there I lack. When instructing others on how to draw me I explain – “Convey my essence, what does the pose feel like? Express that with your charcoal marks!”

Today I observed the communication process again. My typical poses are not often like naturalism, I mean mainly my shorter poses (less than half an hour). They are abstract, geometric, dynamic, concerned with balance and not obviously expressive of an emotion. They are about form. As I shift from angular shape to perpendicular groove, it is my body that tells me which way to go. Or rather it just does it. Today I saw/felt an artist watching me first, before he put pencil to paper. Taking it in – ‘what does it mean?’

I looked at myself: balancing on the sides of my feet, legs crossed, back leaning slightly forward and arms out front about belly level, hands together in an almost begging fashion. My head was tilted up and to the left. I thought: “There is nothing obvious which I am telling you, at least not with your left brain. So best not to analyse too much.” I was right all along. Feel the essence, don’t think about it. Take time to absorb the information given before your eyes, your senses. Then translate to paper. Measure by all means; but let the charcoal interpret the meaning, which in any case never need be clear. Not in linear terms at least. It may strike on another plane.

by the artist in question, Joe Goldman at Idun Eustace’s class (Wimbledon Art Studios); longer pose

Next week we have another meeting for new models; this time at Battersea Arts Centre on Wednesday 19th September, 7-9pm.

Also we have life modelling workshops lined up where participants get to try drawing each other as well as us. The emphasis is not on being able to draw, rather on seeing what the model is from the artist’s point of view. These are on Wednesday evenings of 26th September and 3rd October at Battersea Library. This is great preparation for our event on October 20. Do get in touch to book a place, there is a charge of £10. Drawing materials provided.

Author: estherbunting

Performer, artist, writer

4 thoughts on “Communicating a Pose: from Model to Artist (to canvas)”

  1. A very interesting and wonderfully insightful comment on artist and model and their co-relationship. Exactly – ‘feel the essence’! I felt last time how it was important to get into a ‘form’ or ‘shape’ but was also conscious of the communication with the artist/s – and I believe it must be more than striking a ‘right’ pose but about feelings too and sometimes being naturalistic

    Just like when I am photographing people I prefer natural to pose positions. Natural photos reveal a lot more and of course are a more sensitive revelation of the person rather than a set geometric positioning of the form of the body. It is the body itself and the character of the person being portrayed that is vital (both for ‘model’ and artist). Well my opinion lol

  2. Thanks Nicholas, you are right that being oneself as model is most important, and allowing genuine feelings to be and emerge.
    I think what I find as a life model who works a lot is that quite often my natural exuberance and passion for movement manifest while I am at work. I must be still so much of the time but if my body can express dynamism then I am almost moving or about to move as it would appear. My body too feels a pleasure in exercising different muscles, so this in turn gives me a high and keeps me smiling as I often do. Left to my own devices I pose to please myself which in turn radiates back to artists I hope. That’s how I connect.
    If I am having an emotional day however, I don’t block it. My poses will most likely be quite different, more introvert, straight forward and back to basics, which as you suggest may be so powerful; because a strong emotion such as sadness will transmit immensely in subtle style.
    Thank you always for your thoughts and opinions, it keeps it fresh against my own opinions.

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