Alex by John Skelcher
Below is the text I first posted on WWST:
Alex modelling for artist Martin Robinson in Rojales
"It is an uncanny coincidence that art nude model Brooke Lynne should have posted about her experience of being a life model in her blog. I was about to write about my own experiences as a life model just before I read it - UL sent me the link. I did not know Brooke also did life modeling, it seems to be something that several art models do. In England, art model Erin does both photographic and life.
I began life modeling when I was in my early twenties. At the time I was an impoverished student and with my dance background, life modeling seemed an easy option. Not that the cash was ever sufficient, it just helped a little, that's all.
My first class was at an Adult Education Institute and I had to hold a pose, which seemed to be quite simple, for the whole 2 hour class, with breaks. Ouch, it was a standing pose, with me leaning on a chair which sustained part of my weight. I was psychologically unprepared for the discomfort, which was considerable. My limbs went numb and time seemed to have come to a standstill. I felt a little uncomfortable about my nudity at first but soon enough I forgot about it. My main problem was to resist the urge to move. Then, like Brooke says, I discovered the tiny imperceptible shifts one can make while holding the pose, the adjustments to the spine and ribcage while breathing and concentrated on that. You do move while posing, only your movements are barely noticeable.
Alex at Body Worlds Life Drawing class, May 2009, photographer: John Meade
I found my first session went well, so I began posing more regularly. I found it challenging and it complemented my dance. I worked for artists doing one to one sessions, I did portrait sittings and various group classes. I then stopped, life modeling was not my chosen career, even though by the time I stopped I had become quite experienced. I was a good enough life model but my heart was not in it.
Then after a very long break, I went back to life modeling some five years ago. And it was a completely different experience. I fell back into it easily and really enjoyed doing it. Soon after I began doing photographic modeling. I always feel that my life modeling has given me the stamina for photographic modeling. Again, as Brooke says, yoga has helped. But life modeling by itself gives you such an incredible awareness of your body, it does not have to be sustained by any yoga practice.
At Body Worlds Life Drawing Class, May 2009, Alex with model Firdous, photographer: Steve Osborn
You learn about poses, about how long you can hold them, about stretching yourself and also about your own limitations. When I do life I often adapt poses I use for photographic modeling by making them more sustainable over a longer period of time and vice versa. My body has become so attuned that I can easily tell when 10 minutes are over or 20 or 40. I have learnt to listen to my body.
But the most enjoyable thing is the time you have to really focus on something, to think, and I have created stories, analysed situations, planned projects while sitting for a life drawing class. Life modeling gives you a license to day dream. Conversely, you can use that time to really feel and experience yourself in the present, to learn about breathing.
When I work for some artists they often don't talk but put music on or sometimes they work in silence and all I hear is the pencil or charcoal on the paper. Some other artists love talking and engage you in conversation. I find this a little more tiring as it does not allow me to go deep inside myself.
Alex by artist Alex Rennie
If I am posing for a class, I often listen to the comments of the tutor. I have learnt so much about the visual arts just through sitting for a life drawing class, about different techniques or even about artists, as tutors will sometimes discuss the work of the greats, be they Renaissance masters or more contemporary artists such as Bacon and Freud.
I do believe that any art nude photographic model should try at some point to sit for an artist. It is definitely enriching to do so. You also learn a very important art: that of patience"
Alex by artist Hadassah Berry
(Life modelling by Alex B.)