Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Local Venue

One of my favorite places to model featuring one of my favorite instructors is the local community college around the way from my home base. It's not far, it's a pleasant campus, and motorcycle parking is right in front of the art building.

I've modeled at this community college more often than any other place I've modeled. I have a great rapport with the instructor who is quite dedicated to teaching the art of life drawing. He seems to like my style and presentation because he asks me back fairly often.

Most of the students are fairly new to life drawing but the classes are usually small so the instructor can give each artist a lot of attention. I feel with the smaller classes I "project and connect" with the group much better than I do at larger venues. There's usually a more congenial atmosphere than some of the larger universities and art schools where I model.

Today was my first time modeling at the community college for the fall semester which is already three weeks in motion. A whole summer had gone by since I last modeled at the college. I hadn't set foot on the campus since May. It felt like no time at all had gone by as I removed my robe and got on the posing platform in the life drawing studio.

The instructor had me start with some fast gestures as is his custom. I am conversant with his routine and it was nice to follow a familiar rhythm. I went for the dramatic as is my custom forgetting that my right knee had taken a nasty impact with the pavement a few weeks ago following a motorcycle mishap. I could feel the quadriceps in my right thigh start to shake a bit but I was able to get through most of the gestures. I didn't have this issue modeling last week so I'm guessing some of my poses must have aggravated it. I'll have to see the chiropractor soon...

Following the gestures the instructor had me take a leaning standing pose which proved to be real bothersome to my knee. He quickly changed it up in deference to my injury and put me in a seated pose, one leg folded under me. I still managed to get in a bit of lean on my left arm. This pose put my folded, left leg to sleep as well as my left hand which was partially supporting me on the box on which I was seated. My left ankle, pressed on the lip of the box, began to feel like it was being seared with a branding iron. Thankfully this was to be a one-day pose.

The instructor likes to go for fairly long periods before taking breaks. Typically the students draw for 30 minutes at a time before taking a ten minute break. The pose put the sleeping limb - searing joint at a level of about seven on a scale of one to ten. It takes a lot of mental gymnastics to block that out. I spent most of the time contemplating the figure drawing tableau in my mind. A lone, nude model on a platform surround by artists wielding charcoal sticks on acid-free paper in a furious attempt to record their interpretation of the model's form. This would be a scene most bizarre for the uninitiated.

The instructor liked some of what he was seeing of the artists' work and decided he wanted to give them more time to develop their drawings. He announced that the pose would now be a two-day pose as I was returning in two days for the next class. I had to give a mental sigh of anguish as I now had the opportunity to savor the anticipation of another three hours of sleeping leg, sleeping hand, and searing pain in my ankle.

The physical discomfort is only momentary. It only exists when I let myself be aware of it. It is the price to pay for being the catalyst for the generation of art. It is the price of being a life model. I pay it gladly. When I see the finished drawings hanging in the hallway of the art building I know I did my part in those drawings' creation. The collaboration with artists and new, original art is the return on my investment of pain. I think it's all worthwhile.

I'm looking forward to Thursday.

(Of course I have to get through tomorrow night at the state university where I'll be modeling for a much larger group. I'll tell you how it goes.)

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