My Experience as a Nude Figure Model For Art Classes
How I Became A Nude Figure Model
Guest blog by: Frank Torchio
Having photographed nudes (both female and male) I got this urge: What would it be like to be on the opposite side of the camera or easel and pose in the buff in front of a group of artists in a figure drawing class? Among the concerns I had were, how I would look? Am I well-built and well-endowed enough? After doing some research, I discovered you don’t have to have the body of an Adonis or Playboy Playmate to model for a figure drawing class. I’m a guy who never looked like a Schwarzenegger either in my prime or how I look now.
So with some trepidation, I decided to give it a try and went online and found several figure drawing sites. My first experience was with a gay men’s figure drawing group. I sat in on some classes and asked if I could model. The moderator agreed. I was amazed at how easy it was to pose nude in front of a group of complete strangers. After changing into a robe and slippers in a private changing area I went to the posing platform, disrobed and began posing. My poses were short — one minute poses gradually increasing to 10 and 15 minutes. The podium was raised and the artists were arranged in a horseshoe.
The second opportunity came with an art class run by a well-known teacher in SoHo, Manhattan. Again, the poses ranged from one minute to 15 minutes. Art classes have different protocols on what is acceptable behavior for both artists and models. For instance in the gay men’s figure drawing group, it was a free-for-all. One artist would suggest a pose and another would either suggest another pose or a variation of a previous pose and could communicate freely with the model. In other classes, if an artist wanted a certain pose they would tell the moderator who would relay it to the model.
During breaks, protocol dictates that the model put on their robe. The only time the model is naked is on the posing dais. Walking around naked in the studio is not allowed. Some art schools limit poses to standing or seated poses and will not allow reclining poses. With the exception of the gay men’s group about half the artists were split evenly between men and women.
Is there a sexual component to posing nude? Not at all. Figure drawing art classes are very non-sexual. Once the novelty of being nude or looking at a naked person has worn off (usually 5-10 minutes) you don’t even think about it and neither do any of the artists. The artists treat the model no differently than a vase of flowers or bowl of fruit. Suppose I get an erection? Not to worry. In all the classes I have modeled for, I have never had an erection because figure drawing classes are so unsexy.
The hardest part of being a nude model is posing. I have held poses ranging from one minute up to twenty minutes. But after a twenty minute pose, your joints can become stiff and you need to bend and stretch during breaks.
I first posed when I was 63 years old. In spite of the fact that I’m older, in many ways I feel better about myself than ever before. As both an art model and a photographer of nude models I can better appreciate what it takes to be a good nude model.
There was one amusing incident that happened in one class: As I was posing, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a lunch delivery being made to the moderator. Naked in front of a dozen complete strangers, I was startled but held my pose. I think the delivery person was more startled than I was.