Today I had another art modeling gig. I will consider my first gig the one at the college, even though I technically went for two (three?) classes. I consolidate these multiple visits into one gig because it was my first time doing it, it was at the same place with the same artists, and it was the same pose the entire time. If you haven’t read about my experience, you can read the pre-modeling blog here and the post-modeling blog here.
Anyway, one of the instructors at the college knows an artist that facilitates a private figure drawing class and gave him my information. His name is Bruce and you can see what he’s all about here. We exchanged a series of emails and had a telephone call regarding tonight’s modeling session (and next week’s as well) and I decided to go ahead and do it. I still believe what I said before – individuals should be creative, they should express, and whatever medium they choose is their personal business. Whether you paint, sing a song, dance, act, work with glass, clay – or write like me, you should be creative. Even if your creativity is organizing your shelves in a certain way, or selecting the right accessories for your car – find a way to express yourself. Also, whether or not you choose to share it with the world is also your business. It is as sacred as your relationship with God, because ultimately creativity is your relationship with your soul.
So, I went to the Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts this evening. Well, technically, it was last night since its past midnight when I’m getting around to writing this. I had class until five and I got in my car and drove directly to VTICA. It is a beautiful gallery in a restored barn. The walls are bright and striking colors and big open space. There were about ten artists, I think, and they were all older than me, 35+ I would say. This was a more comfortable environment for me. The artists talked to me, they were friendly and warm, whereas at the college I was mostly ignored. The students weren’t being rude, of course, but it is important to remain professional and detached when someone is about to disrobe in front of you, I think. It was comforting at first, but also a little strange. This environment was more appealing to me, because I immediately felt safe and comfortable with these individuals. These are people who I categorize as “for real life grownups”, and they have done this before, whereas college students are still getting used to the idea of a naked stranger just sitting in front of them.
As for that, there was some anxiety on the drive there. Thankfully I rocked out to the Beatles LOVE album from the cirque show and chain smoked to calm my nerves. Also I remembered to eat a gas station chicken sandwich – because modeling is hard work! You’d think that its easy to just hold still, but it’s not. It’s such an interesting experience, and this time I had a completely different set of feelings about it.
My first modeling gig was one pose held for 20-30 minutes with a ten minute break in between. The class was three hours, so I’d sit in that pose four or five times and then go back the next week and repeat the same process. This time, however, I started with six two-minute action poses. These were really fun because it’s only two minutes. It’s a warm up for the artists and ended up being a warm up for me. Okay, Kyrston, get ready to hold still. Remember what it feels like to be still, because the last pose you’re doing tonight is forty-five minutes and you need to calm your mind and go into the zone.
I did a pose with arms extended, like I was dancing. A pose where my feet were together and I was bent at a ninety degree angle with my arms stretched out in front of me (that one was hard, even for two minutes. A pose where I was crouched, a pose where my back faced the artists and I had one hand on my hip and the other hand stretching over my head on the same side (like stretching). A number of different poses that were expressive but too difficult to hold much longer than a few minutes.
Then we did a ten minute pose, for this one it kind of looked like the position a runner on the track would take before the gun fires. That was hard on my wrists, arms, and shoulders. Basically the longest push up ever.
The artists and Bruce communicated very well what they were looking for and had books and suggestions, which was helpful. I have to say that when you’re standing nude in front of a panel of strangers and you have a spotlight on you, it’s hard to be innovative. Since I constantly trip, or drop things, and basically move without much grace, trying to move without even clothing to protect me from my own awkwardness really takes some courage. But we laughed and they were kind and I got the hang of it.
The second to last pose was 25 minutes and it was me sitting with my legs off to the side, similar to the pose I held at the college. Except this time instead of my weight being on my hands, I was leaning my side against something and my arms were folded on it. That was extremely comfortable. I had way more padding in the form of blankets and pillows under the sheet, rather than a piece of foam on the plywood. I almost fell asleep sitting there because literally no part of my body was uncomfortable. Once in a while I’d notice that I was leaning my rib cage against the corner of what I was leaning on, but it wasn’t a big deal.
And finally the big one, the forty-five minute pose. We all agreed that I should be laying down to minimize discomfort/the need to move around or make adjustments. So, I laid on my back, put my legs up on the platform to my left and crossed them, twisted my torso so it was front-facing, rested my left hand on the platform and put my right hand under my head.
So. Comfortable. I almost fell asleep. I just closed my eyes and listened to the really good music they were playing, and listened to the sound of different artistic tools. A brush being dipped in water, a piece of charcoal on paper. A pen scratching away. And a sharpener sharpening something once in a while. I could have held that position all night long. I actually had to concentrate to not relax too much because I didn’t think it would be professional to fall asleep and have one of my legs fall down or something.
All in all an extremely positive experience. I was more comfortable in the nude, as well. Whereas at the college I disrobed at the last second and immediately pulled it back on and left the room for breaks, this time I just stood there between poses and discussed ideas with the artists. I was in more revealing poses as well. Never anything vulgar or in poor taste, of course. This isn’t pornography, it’s art. I was just more expressive, no longer concerned with what my body might look like from different angles. It is an incredibly uplifting experience.
Just imagine – the opportunity to challenge every self-conscious part of your mind. The opportunity to feel completely at ease in your own skin. And for those of you that know me personally, the fact that I am slender and petite has nothing to do with it. Believe me, prior to attending these sorts of things I do all kind of preparation. I groom, exfoliate to the point of rawness, moisturize to the extreme. Take careful pains to be clean and odorless. I can do nothing about bruises on my body from walking into things, or stretch marks in places where I grew too quickly as an adolescent (even more obvious with pale winter skin). I can do nothing about my breasts changing when it’s cold in the room (and let me just tell you that I am sitting there wondering what they look like and I can’t see them, and it drives me nuts). Or the way my tummy looks if I’m bent over and relaxed. I don’t know what my facial expression is even though I can feel my face, because I’m too busy concentrating on not scratching that itch or not moving my hand naturally or not shaking too much from the strain of holding still.
If anyone ever gets the opportunity, I highly suggest you try it at least once. Or, for starters, start walking around your apartment without any clothing on. I do it at home all the time, when no one is here of course (like my dad). Make love with the lights on, look at yourself in the mirror and see how beautiful you are. See what the artists see. The lines and the shapes, the curves and the interest. It is so satisfying.
The last two poses, in particular, I felt a little bit spoiled. It’s hard to feel graceful and beautiful when you’re holding a particularly difficult pose, like bending over. All the blood is rushing to your head and you feel like a big doofus, but all the artists care about is the female figure (or male, in the case of a male model) doing something expressive and interesting. But to sit in a comfortable position and feel royal? To lie down and feel like Rose from the Titanic? (without all the sexual tension, of course) It’s incredible. Absolutely incredible. I felt… less like I was getting paid to do a job and more like I was a spectacle that all had come to see. It filled me with this powerful sense of confidence. That I could just relax and be in my own skin, that I could just strip away all the bullshit and just be Kyrston. And with all the quiet, I was able to really think.
I thought about my marriage, how my post-marriage relationship ended and why, the human condition, how I feel about the world, how I feel about my family, how I feel about my job, how I feel about my body, and how I feel about where I have been, where I am, and where I’m going. I have felt that good before, usually after a massage. Just how a massage removes toxins from your body and corrects your muscles, this experience removes toxins from my mind. I will sleep better tonight after this experience, I will feel better in my body after this experience (again) and I really hope I get the chance to do it on a regular basis in many different ways.
Check out the links above, especially for Bruce. There should be contact information if this interests you, and you can always contact me directly if you have any more questions that I didn’t answer here or in the previous blogs.