Wednesday, 4 May 2011

An unusual pastime....

Thanks so much to everyone for your good wishes and thoughts for my Dad following my last post...thankfully, he was able to come home fairly soon and is feeling much better. We're all so relieved and counting our blessings...and the weather has turned lovely & warm again as if in celebration!

Last night I went to my Life Drawing class....I'm the model! I know that a few of my Twitter friends  were a little taken aback to find this out a few weeks ago...so I thought I'd post & tell you a little more about it.

I've been sitting for the class for 14 years....and I really love it....but at first, I must admit, I was terrified! I got involved through a friend who worked in the same bar...we were chatting over a staff dinner and she told me about her art class and how irritated she got because they couldn't find life models, so she was having to pose instead of draw. I said (in one of those casual smalltalk ways...) that I've never understood people having a problem with taking their clothes off for art - as long as it IS art!! After all, many of the greatest artistic creations are based on the naked human form. I did believe all this - but it was just a conversation, or so I thought! A few days later, the lady who owns the studio rang me and said that my friend had told her that I might be interested in modelling for the Life Class!! I was so shocked...but I really couldn't think of good excuse and agreed to do it.

That first evening was horrendously embarrassing (for me!) I later found out that they had no idea that I'd never modelled before - & I assumed that they knew - so it was all very matter of fact. I turned up, with my robe and slippers and was shown to a little cubicle screened with a curtain. You can see it in the centre of the picture above. As I removed my clothes, I tried to quell my rising panic. I stepped out in my robe, determined to tell them that I was sorry, but I couldn't go through with it and would have to go home...
but when I looked around at the calm, kind, studious faces....fixed not on me at all, but their easels and other materials...fixing their paper, sharpening pencils and quietly chatting...I suddenly felt ashamed. How egotistical to think that these artists would be thinking of anything other than their work. To them, I was nothing more than a living, breathing bowl of fruit (maybe a few more curves!) and I was simply there as a way for them to practise and perfect their skills. So I took a deep breath, said 'Good Evening' and sat for my very first class. Many of those people are still there today...and have become friends on those Tuesdays. During the break (the class is 2 hours...1 hour, then a 15 minute coffee break before the final 45 minutes) I love to walk around and look at what others see when they study me! It can be quite revealing. For instance...everyone, since I was quite young, has always told me how much I resemble my mother. And I can see that I do! But I once looked at a beautiful pastel of my face that someone had done...and it was my father who smiled out at me! It was definitely me - but I saw my Dad's features there - and it was wonderful and amazing to me to see that side of myself.

Of course, some nights it isn't easy...the posing get more difficult as I get older, I seem to stiffen up much quicker these days! Strangely, I prefer standing to sitting down most times. But, I can tell you, EVERY position, however comfortable to begin with, starts to hurt after holding it for an hour. The head is really heavy! The hips & knees groan & creak at taking too much load on one side...I wouldn't give it up, though!

One thing I never am is cold ! Summer or Winter, there's always a huge fire burning in the wood stove...
and it throws out a terrific amount of heat (thankfully!) I take the chance to go through many things in my head while I'm sitting there, so still. Sometimes I replay whole Mozart concertos...or plot my novel...or plan new recipes....or run through things I wish I'd said in arguments! Once or twice ( and not for a few years now!) I've fallen asleep - to much hilarity!
Anyway, it adds richness and depth to my life....another layer of experience if you like. I hope that no one is offended by this post....I know that it's not something everyone would think is a seemly pastime. But I think that, without the long history of life models, much of the world's greatest works of art wouldn't exist! And in that spirit, I'm posting one of the drawings from last night's class. With the artist's permission, I hasten to add! I thought it was beautifully done, and felt proud of my part in it's creation!
Hoping your week is wonderful. Don't forget to enter my Giveaway -  I'll add any comments on this post from different readers into the draw, which will take place on Sunday!

xoxo

14 comments:

  1. Wow, this is amazing Rachel! I love learning more about you, and this just makes me love you even more. :) What a fun life you lead, with baking and mozart and nude modeling!! Haha!
    It's a lovely portrait of you, thanks so much for sharing.
    Yours, Dawn

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  2. Well I'm highly offended....that your boobs look so much more fabulous than mine! I so admire you for doing this. I totally agree that it's a wonderful thing to do but never in a million years would I be brave enough to do it. So I take my hat off to you, whilst you take your pants off. You always make me proud. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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  3. Oh, this takes me back to my days in art school! The space for class is wonderful! And huge beautiful easels, too! These are very talented students, Rachel...I love the portraits of you...conte crayon? Thank you for sharing your experience as a model! People do not realise how difficult it is to hold a pose, esp a sustained pose for a long time.
    Wishing you a wonderful day! Hugs, Sherry xx

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  4. Dearest Rachel,
    I was shocked the first time I heard you tell of this but only because I'm not sure I could do it myself---the thought of doing it for years, however, is even more frightening! Parts moving downward and being captured with an artist's pencil! But, I was NOT shocked that your wonderful heart would do this for others. It is easy to see the beauty in the room, the comfort, the imaginative energy....the warm fireplace, too---all wonderful expressions of their appreciation of your giving heart. You are a true friend in every sense of the word---and I must agree with your sister Esther---"your boobs look so much more fabulous than mine!" But aren't we all blessed to have any at all?....when a dear friend of mine so recently had hers removed, this is just a reminder of counting our blessings....and one of them is having YOU as a friend! BRAVO!!!
    Love and Hugs,
    Joann

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  5. Rachel, I'm not in the least shocked, just interested. As a midwife and gynae nurse I see women at all stages of life, usually, given the job less than fully dressed. It seems natural to me and not in the least embarrassing. My sister had some beautiful nude pictures (photographs) done of herself for her husband and I think I would like to have done it too but was probably too embarrassed to arrange the sitting. (not the photos). Possibly less keen now after the mastectomy but you never know....Your picture is beautiful, I hope, somewhere along the line you have been given one to keep. Take care xx

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  6. I'm in awe and full of admiration. I could never do that, I have no problem with nudity until it comes to mine. I just could not do it. Beady eyes on my flab and face, not for me. I admire anyone who can do it though, because it's invaluable for students.

    The drawing of you is beautiful. Oh to have talent like that.

    I must have missed it on twitter, but I'm not shocked. Nothing shocks me any more. My recently moved out neighbour used to do photo shoots for fetish catalogues, and when she told me I just laughed and said 'that doesn't surprise me', which sounds bad, but she was just this lovely young girl with a zest for life and has done loads of things. In the time I've known her, she's gone from being an air hostess to driving instructor, with oodles of things in between.

    So I'm rarely shocked.

    I am so glad your dad is home, and more importantly, feeling better.

    xx

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  7. Art, schmart! Take your clothes off for SEX--the payoff is better and you're allowed to move. Gotta ditto Esther re the boobs tho. You look really beautiful in your portrait!

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  8. Hi Rachel,

    I have been a reader of your blog for several months now. It has been a pleasure getting to know you and experiencing English life through your eyes. (I found you through Susan Branch's website, who I also adore :)

    I connect with you in many ways. I love to write, bake, garden, and I also love dogs.

    I always enjoy reading your posts and this most recent one about your "unusal pastime" was no exception. I would never have that kind of courage, although I know it must be so very satisfing to know that you have made a contribution through art - and the sketch proves that. It is beautiful. What a wonderful gift to society.

    Thanks Rachel and keep up the good work. I look forward to reading your blog.

    Your family will continue to be in my prayers.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    Danielle

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  9. I am commenting late on this post, a shame really I could not catch up with my blogging friends earlier.

    There is absolutely nothing offensive about art, nudity and the cocktail of those two things. You should be proud of being able to be naked in front of so many people for aesthetic reasons. I envy you for this. All I ever managed was to get in my underwear during a play rehearsal, and there was barely anyone in the audience.

    An anecdote it reminds me of, if you ever feel shy: there was a Greek sculptor accused of blasphemy because he used a model to sculpt the goddess Aphrodite (one could not use emre humans for goddesses, of course). To defend himself, he show to the judges the model in question, all naked of course. And then he said: "As you can see, this is not her".

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  10. Hello Rachel,
    I just read your post (a little late). How wonderful of you to share pictures and experiences of your life drawing class! I think it is so admirable to be the model for this class. I am not surprised at all! But I know I could never do it. Too chicken, too shy. I remember my aunt used to take art classes many years ago (she has since passed) and I remember seeing her art. She loved drawing the human body and never spoke at all about the nude model. It was just so natural. You are such an interesting person! I enjoyed learning more about your life and your "unusual pastime". By the way, the drawing of you is gorgeous. Happy Saturday sweetheart! xoxo

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  11. Good for you! I wish my boobs were that perky! LOL!!!

    Happy to hear your dad is doing better!

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  12. i think this is beautiful.....

    i was SO HAPPY to see you today...and SO VERY HAPPY to hear the Good News about Charlie...i am smiling....i am glad you got to see my Teddy...we ADORE him...he is 15 months old today...just this morning john and i were talking about how much we love Buddy and Teddy...we never forget Buddy either...i loved that little guy so much too !!!!!!

    Teddy has brought us joy beyond words...i am happy to be back...i missed everybody...and i missed YOU and sweet alice, my friends....

    glad to hear your dad is doing well

    sending love to you today
    kary and teddy

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  13. I arrived at your blog via Susan Branch (I was curious on Twitter who this "Mozart Girl" was!) I've been lurking through your previous posts and I have to say that I found this particularly post not only inspiring but beautiful as well.

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  14. I think your amazing, Rachel! I've fallen so behind since being sick. I totally missed this on twitter :)
    It's wonderful and so are you!
    Love,
    Denise of Ingleside, PEI

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