Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Sally the Life Model – Mum and Dad would have approved!

21st June 2013

Part 1

I expect this will make you sigh and think, "Oh Sally!"

There are lots of Summer Schools on at the university and at the local college at the moment and on Thursday on all the tables in the refectory there was an advert asking for people to act as models for the life-drawing class next Monday. I know my Mum did this several times, I think Dad didn't approve but he was far too sensible to say anything.

My mouth engaged before my brain and I heard myself saying to the other Sally, "I will do it if you will". She agreed and almost before we realised it we were in the Art Department and had signed up to do the 2PM to 5PM session. They were so grateful because they had been let down by booked people at short notice and so were in a real mess. Of course them being so grateful made it feel impossible for us to back out, even if we had wanted to. There are going to be four models, all ladies, the oldest is over 60 and one who was 7 months pregnant.

And yes life-drawing does mean that both of us will be naked, nude and bare and with strangers staring at us. I knew you would sigh! :)

We were given the instruction book so we know what is expected of us. Some of the poses are just for a couple of minutes, some might be a long as 15 minutes and we do one long pose that is broken up into shorter blocks. Standing, sitting and lying down poses so lots to keep the artists busy. We were told that we get changed in a different room and come in to the studio wearing a dressing gown and we don't take that off until the session is ready to start. Some of the typical poses are surprisingly modest given that we are bare, one or two are not modest at all but they do these at the end of the session and the models can opt out if they want.

When we got home Stewart (my boyfriend) and Mark (the other Sally’s boyfriend) laughed a lot but obviously though we were mad. We decided to have a trial run just with them to get some idea what it felt like to do the posing. They sat in the lounge and we got undressed in the hall.  It felt rather strange walking in but not nasty. One thing gave me the giggles, for the first couple of minutes Stewart hardly looked at me and all his attention was on the other Sally but with Mark it was the other way round. Novelty value I suppose?  I think I could have been wearing flippers on my feet and Mark wouldn't have noticed since his eyes certainly didn't go down that far. To be fair Mark has been a wonderful friend to me and if he enjoyed the show so what! 

We tried out some of the poses as illustrated in the book and we decided that it is harder to stand still for long periods than we imagined. Once or twice I could feel my heart thumping at the pose I was in. It is the sitting poses that are scariest and the standing poses that are easiest.

24th June 2013

The event room - It was warm without being hot but it wasn't particularly clean and I don't think it could have been cleaned between the morning class and our arrival for the afternoon group. The changing room for the models was spotless as were the attached toilets. Score 18/20

The pre-course briefing and audition - We arrived just before 1PM to find there were only three models including us. We felt a bit sorry for the very pregnant lady at first but she remained cheerful right through the afternoon. We got undressed and put on the gown we had been given. We went through to the studio and promptly took the gown off again. There were 4 teaching staff there, two men and two ladies and we went through the main features of posing. As two of us were total newcomers I think that perhaps the staff should have been a bit more supportive and encouraging and perhaps explained things a bit more to us?  We very quickly realised that it was our lady bits we were thinking about during each pose and that our breasts and bums just had to look after themselves. Also being clean shaven down there isn't exactly an advantage for us in the "lets stay modest" competition.

I had been taken on as a model to demonstrate all the moves that athletes use so I went through all the different poses. The standing poses are easy enough to do and not too revealing or stressful to do. The various sitting poses were the problem partly because if you need to hold a pose for quite a long time without moving then things like crossing your legs cannot be done however much you want to do it!!  Everything went OK until the last two poses I did for the 4 staff. The first groin stretching exercise was OK but was the first time that my heart was really thumping away because of the male spectators. Then I did second stretching exercise which the boss banned as rather too extreme. He did this REALLY sensitively and well so that I didn't feel too stupid about doing it. You might sigh though!

Another kind thing they did was when the two men left the two ladies gave us some survival tips. Face the ladies and ignore the men is the golden rule for a first-timer. Concentrate on what you are doing and not what other people are seeing or thinking was the other key tip. Score 16/20

The students – There were 13 of them, 5 men and 8 women. 12 of them had easels that they set up - one just used a pad that he held in his hand. At the end of each section we put our gowns back on and had a chat with them. 12 of the 13 were very kind and genuinely appreciative of what we were doing and forgiving of any mistakes caused by our inexperience. They scored 20/20. Most of the time it was almost fun doing the posing. Go through the poses in order, just decide which way to face and think peaceful thoughts.

But the bloke with the artists pad was creepy and made me and Sally quite uneasy. One time for example I glanced down towards the artists (moving eyes but not head!) about half way through a 10 minute pose expecting to see the 2 ladies and the man with the green paint on his sleeve who had been in front of me at the start only to find the creepy man sitting on the floor in front of them. I could see his head seemingly between my knees (he was about 2 metres away really) and it didn't feel very nice at all. He scored 0/20.

Any problems? - Apart from Mr Creepy the only real problem I had was entirely and 100% my fault. I let my concentration wonder and turned what would have been a fairly stressful pose for a first-timer into one that was far worse. I then made matters worse again by not being sensible enough to say that I didn't feel comfortable doing the pose and just not doing it. What makes me even crosser was that it was the last pose of a session so if I had just focussed for just 6 more minutes I could have had a short break and so got my brain in order.

It was so silly because I had done the gluteal stretch OK and was feeling quite proud of myself. Two of the three students with the best view of my ladies bits were ladies themselves which had helped and I wasn't too near the edge of the platform so I wasn't in glorious close-up. But for some mad reason when I got up to move to a new position I didn't check who would have the best view of me and because I had said to myself "oh, the stage is a bit dirty there I better go here instead" not only did I end up closer to the students than for any other pose but I ended up with three male artists including Mr Creepy straight in front of me. But the final part of my stupidity was the worse. I sat down and did the groin stretch and was fully in position before I looked up and realised what I had done wrong. It seemed a very long 6 minutes! One of the lady members of staff I think must have realised my mistake and she stood behind the men and I imagine that if she thought I was getting distressed she would said something to them. But it was my own silly fault. But I'm proud now that I did the whole 6 minutes and I will keep one little fear about that pose to myself. (How cryptic!)

If you have any words like "There, there Sally I'm sure it wasn't as bad as you imagine" now might be good time to say it!

When the students had all left we got our informal feedback and our grades. The other Sally got 18/20, I got 16 and the pregnant lady 16. The pass mark to be offered work in future was 12 so we are now officially on the university approved list. I then lost extra one mark because of my silly mistake right at the end which was fair enough.


  1. Really interesting post! I never thought about the strain of the poses, more about the scariness of being naked. You're really brave to do it!

    Mr Creepy sounds awful! He reminds me of the scene in The Vicar of Dibley where they do nude modelling!

  2. Hello Lucinda - it is true what they say about how quickly you forget you are naked. It is rather like being "in the zone" in athletics. Yes Mr Creepy wasn't nice, I think he was only interested in drawing one particular part of me!