For anyone who hasn't visited my artist's website, I paint mostly figurative paintings. I paint naturalistically and quite beautifully (well, I think so.) Because I am good at getting a likeness, and because I am interested in beauty, I thought most people would be flattered if I asked them to pose.
I haven't had anyone turn me down, but sometimes a certain trepidation seems to enter later in the piece. First let me explain that it usually takes quite a bit of courage on my part to ask someone to pose. I feel very vulnerable and self-conscious. A model is an important part of a painting. They become a kind of muse. Most people aren't used to modeling and think I am taking their picture. It isn't actually a picture of 'them'. It is more like acting, where you hold a certain energy or feeling for the painting.
One woman I painted became uncomfortable after I sent her the images. She thought they were unflattering. It was upsetting for both of us. Later, much to her credit, she realised that the paintings weren't of 'her', that I was using her as a kind of character in the painting. (Other people thought she looked beautiful in the paintings.)
I am not unsympathetic. I have been in a similar situation. My friend and mentor, James Guppy, asked if I would pose for him. I was flattered and excited to be part of his work. It became a little more challenging as I discovered I would need to pose nude. I worked as an artist model in my 20's, but approaching 50 I was reluctant. I have a lot of respect for James' work, but he doesn't flatter his models. Unflattering emphasis is often important to his artistic vision.
What would you be willing to do in the service of art? I had my natural vanity as a middle-aged woman competing with my love of art. Of course by the time I saw the paintings it was too late to change my mind, so it was fortunate that my artist won the battle. I think in the end my woman benefited from the experience as well - taking myself less seriously.
It was interesting to see which paintings I had trouble with. There is one of my face looking very unflattering that I love. It is the ones that show me nude that I hope disappear. But it isn't me, I must remember. It is a vision of James' that I helped to embody.
To see the paintings I modelled for go here. I couldn't link directly to each painting, so you will have to guess which ones I like and which are confronting.
Would you pose?