Saturday, September 26, 2009

Art Model Handbook

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I wrote last time about trying to change the world through figurative art. To do this, I depend on others – collaborators, if you will. Each of us is unique and we all express ourselves with our bodies. People carry their bodies differently, sculpting them as they desire, moving in a way that exhibits their true thoughts. Some of us appear to do this without effort, while others go to great lengths to create their own looks.

Although there is a part of me in each of my artworks, I depend on art models. I prefer to celebrate the beauty of the individual and work with as many people as I can. Because of this, I receive a lot of inquiries from people interested in becoming a work of art and have set up an information page about modeling for artists. Generally, art models works alone. While the artists who hire them can help, it is not the same as being trained by someone who personally knows the work.

Finally, there is a book created specifically for art models by an art model, Andrew Cahner. The Art Model's Handbook: The Naked Truth about Posing for Art Classes and Fine Artists is now available for only $16.95 via this site and (thank you for your help by supporting my blogging time and images)

This book is a great resource. Andrew defines art terms so a novice to the art world can walk into a studio feeling confident. He describes the classroom situation, as well as what it is like to work privately for fine artists. This very experienced art model tells you what to bring to a drawing session, how to come up with interesting poses, and what artists or art instructors are usually looking for. He also discusses photography, security, nudity concerns and costumes, and gives you resources on where to find work as an art model.

I am also honored because Andrew has included many images of artist’s work and our words, including my bronze “Against the Dying of the Light,” in which I hired three different models after I did my initial clay sketch from my imagination.

My favorite section of the book contains interviews with long-term professional art models. Andrew Cahner even interviewed the female model that changed the TV world when she became the first to pose truly nude on a television show! (Your hint is that it was on a well-known science-fiction show.)

Also of interest to artists and models is that on the Art Model’s Web site, there is a page listing Figure Drawing Open Studios, Workshops, and Continuing Education Classes in the United States and Canada. Use that page to find work or to draw wherever you happen to be! I look forward to accessing this page when I am traveling and needing to draw.

Really, this resource: it is about time!

The Art Model's Handbook: The Naked Truth about Posing for Art Classes and Fine Artists (Paperback)
by Andrew Cahner (Author)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Change the World

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

I do not think I fully understood that I wanted to change the world (and in what way) until about eight years ago. Like most transitions perhaps, mine was a long, slow process, a series of events more than one life-altering one. I was thinking about this recently because someone sent me a quote (and true to my nature, I remember the concept, not the details) that said something to the effect that when a creative person is told “No,” it only motives her to work harder.

Does a person start out by thinking, “I will change the world”? I suspect we each just do what we feel passionately about until the path of past action leads to a clearly focused and more aware future. In my case, I loved creating art of the human form. Years ago, I could not put words to why I was doing what I was doing. But almost every composition I designed involved anatomy – truly the Grand Design and so worthy of respect and admiration.

However, my work has been barred from being exhibited in many places. I often heard the rule “No nudes!” Period. No argument. Although the public seemed enthusiastic about the “classiness” of my nudes when they were seen, many times I was not even given the opportunity to show my work to try to make it an exception to the rule.

Normally the person telling me this would say, “I personally do not have any problems with nudes, but my boss . . . (or the public - some faceless entity I could never speak with) made the decision in fear of a complaint . . .” In 2002, after hanging my exhibit, I was told, “It is against the law for us to censure your work, but we would like you to consider that 1, 2, and 3 (3 specific artworks named, all male nudes) might offend children who enter.” In other words, please censure yourself on the artworks that we are concerned about.

So, now, I know. I want to change the world. Corny but true: love can do this. Art is one of the ways in which we should be safe to explore our humanity. Shame and embarrassment are often misused. I am not depicting violence or hateful ideas. And I need to use the nude human form to remind us of the better qualities in ourselves. Here is my bronze titled “Infinite Love,” a composition of two human figures embedded inside of the mathematical symbol for Infinity. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Limestone and a Big Moth

Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Today (yesterday now) I went to the Boneyard of Continental Cut Stone in Florence, Texas, to pick up a specifically cut piece of Cordova Crème limestone for my latest commission. It was unusually cold and windy. I guess the Fall Equinox did not wish to arrive unnoticed. And it was raining most of the morning, which is wonderful. Since sculpting was not likely to happen, it was a good day for me to run this errand and hope for a less-wet tomorrow.

The stone quarry is actually several hours away from Florence. The Boneyard is where the stone is cut for use by sculptors, but mostly contractors and builders. It is not unusual for natural stone to either not meet the specs of certain construction projects (holes/embedded shells/distracting grain lines) or get broken or cut wrong. In these cases, the less-than-perfect stone is set out in the Boneyard for people like me. I love searching there for unusual shapes and architectural treasures that I can use as a starting point for a stone carving.

I wanted to share a few images I snapped off today as I walked around the Boneyard. The last time I was here was when I met my friend Vasily Fedorouk on the access road of the IH-35 turnoff to Florence. He had just driven down from Chicago to teach a workshop at my place. We went “shopping” together to pick out the limestone we would supply our students. It was a fun day.

The purple thistle that you see here is an unusual variety (to me anyway). I found the purple and grey combination to be a bit irresistible today.

And to my delight, I saw this large yellow moth on a pile of cut stone tiles. Their bodies are bigger than locusts! Because I tend to leave open all the doors and windows of my home and studio for as long as I can every day, I often see a brown moth enter my kitchen and studio this time of year. But I had yet to see an obviously yellow one. I included my hand in the image so that you can clearly make out his size. Cool huh?

I also saw some pink limestone. It reminded me of someone’s strawberry poundcake. I was tempted to bite into it, but I generally do not prefer the taste of limestone. Too bad all I saw were these tiles and blocks too large for me to carry home on this day. But, hmmmm, it was a curious and yummy sight!