Saturday, 6 June 2009

Would you let me Paint You?

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?


nollyposh said...

Great insight into the mind of the artist x

Anonymous said...

Hi how are you?
I was looking through your blog and found it interesting and wanted to leave you a comment.

I hope you will visit my art blog, and become friendly.
Hope to hear from you soon,
Jesse Noe

Frogs-n-Butterflies said...

I think I would pose. I say that now, but could back out at the last minute. I really enjoyed reading this post and the posed pieces are really good. Thanks for sharing!!! ~Cheri

luthien said...

i guess if i have total faith in and admiration for the artist i would ... it would be a pleasure and an honor actually, to be able to work with/for someone you admire so much :)

PJ's talking... said...

ohhh, I have problems fully clothed in front of a camera... no way I could I could manage anything else. But that's me, everyone should do what they're comfortable in... loved this post... gave me some thoughts...

Andrew said...

I enjoyed reading your post, and appreciated the honesty of your thoughts.

I guess people are self-conscious about comparing themselves to some kind of ideal, but art is not just about ideals. Actually I think it comes across as more authentic when the figure is not idealized. Most people are not Olympic medalists or anorexic runway models. To tell their stories, artists need a broader cast of characters available to them.

To answer your question, I have modeled many times, for art classes and professional artists. I love seeing the results, whether embellished or brutally accurate.

Zom said...

I am writing down the emails of everyone who has said they are interested, tee hee.

I saw that you have written a handbook on modeling Andrew. That is very interesting. I have often tutored experienced and inexperienced models before life drawing.

iHanna said...

I would say yes, just for new experience of it all. that would be cool, though I'm not sure about the nude part, I think you're brave Zom! :-)

Anonymous said...

No, I can't. I'm confident about my body but I don't feel I would like to bare it all before people I don't know - just the same with my soul - I may bare parts, depending on the people I bare to -but baring everything is too intimate for me. It's not for me, but I'm glad not everyone thinks the same so I get to see the art and photos .. naughty me! :-p