Naked and on center stage: my time as a life drawing model
Deep in the halls of Gatewood, a career opportunity awaits – and all I had to do was get naked.
Nude modeling at UNCG is offered for the art department’s life-drawing courses, which meet twice a week for three hours at a time. The pay is a respectable $12 per hour, which is well above minimum wage.
For the uninitiated, being asked to pose in birthday fashion in a room full of strangers may seem ominous. But I’m here to say that it’s not that bad. I promise.
The job was actually my mother’s idea; in college, she had a friend who worked as a nude model and the friend told her it paid well with good hours. It turned out UNCG needed models too, so I signed up and did the paperwork. Jan Combs, the woman in charge of scheduling, told me all I needed to bring was a towel and a robe and I was set to go.
With the constant things-to-do pace of mid-semester speeding everything up, the first day came sooner than expected.
I showed up early hoping to get a feel for the workplace. It was about what one would expect for a studio classroom: blinded windows, long counter against a wall, sinks splotched with paint and easels leaning at an angle beside the door with works in progress attached. I sat on a stool trying to look inconspicuous as students began trickling in to set up their easels.
Then the professor walked in, and the first thing she did was thank me for coming in to be their model. She introduced me to everyone, and though that day would just be them critiquing pieces from the prior model, she asked me to change into my robe just in case there was time at the end.
So I did, and returned to find the easels rearranged into a circle, a student sitting beside each one. Each easel had a piece of paper with a picture of a rotund woman looking slightly up. More than one piece captured an air of mischievousness about the subject.
There were no poses that day, but the next class, a three-foot platform took its place in the middle of the room. It was time for me, and the professor asked me to remove the robe and stand on the platform — nothing fancy required, just stand there. She placed a heater next to me and said to let her know if that got uncomfortable.
She instructed the students to focus on one part of me and sketch it out in pencil. The room quieted down to just sounds of scratching lead to paper. I stood there for 15 minutes until the professor broke the silence, offering me a break if I needed it.
I took that as an opportunity to get some water from the hallway fountain; after of course, putting my robe back on. Coming back in, I saw some of the students’ sketches of my feet and hands, arms and back and my knees and butt.
It was strange seeing parts of my own body isolated from the rest, but I didn’t have much time to ponder before resuming.
The professor placed a chair onto the platform and asked me to sit and make myself as comfortable as possible; that pose in the chair would take up the remainder of my time with them. I put my towel on the chair and sat, shifting slightly until the contours of the chair were flush enough with mine, and I gave the professor my good-to-go.
She explained to the students their assignment: that they were to draw a perspective of me, then move to another perspective, erase part of the first perspective, and then fill in the erased portion with the new perspective. She gave the students their cue to begin and the only sound was charcoal scratching at the papers.
There isn’t much to do, naked in a chair, with instructions to sit still. For one class, the professor put on a podcast to listen to. Otherwise it was up to me to figure something out to occupy my mind.
Most often I’d find a single spot somewhere in view — a corner of the ceiling lamp, the meeting of two marks on the wall, where the clock hands meet — and convince myself that something would happen if I stared at that spot long enough. Despite my own convictions, nothing happened except the occasional fly zipping by. Sometimes it landed!
As classes passed, the pieces were fleshing out. In one I appeared to be like an apartment building; a big me housing smaller me’s in which there held even smaller me’s.
In another, I looked like a nudist time traveler, spinning across the page in different perspectives. Thankfully, me as nudie traveler wasn’t revealing enough to discourage showing to my family. My mother has a copy of that one hanging on her fridge at home.
And so I was initiated to the fold of having posed nude for an extended period of time in front of people.
If nothing else, it helped me with public speaking because I can think to myself, ‘at least I’m clothed this time’, and feel grateful for that.
Categories: Features, Human Interest, Uncategorized
I’m quite interested in this opportunity. How do I sign up for this job?