In 2013 I made a decision that has led to some of the most rewarding and enjoyable times of my adult life. I decided to become a life model, following a conversation with a friend who told me she was attending life drawing classes but that there were not enough male models. Having had no experience of modelling, clothed or naked, and never having spent any time as the only naked person in a room of clothed people, I decided I needed some training. I advertised my services as a nude model in a local small ads web site, and waited. After several weeks finally an artist responded and I wrote to her explaining that I needed help to learn how to be an artists’ model. It turned out Suzy had been a model herself, although not nude, and she was more than happy to help. I hired a small hall near her house and turned up on one of the hottest days of the year for my first tuition. We’d agreed to have 2 sessions of 3 hours each. Suzy was around 40 years old, very arty, with wild hair and lots of bangles and necklaces, but absolutely lovely. I nervously stripped off and stood waiting for her to tell me what to do. It felt strange and exciting to be standing naked in front of a woman I had only met 5 minutes earlier, and because of my lack of experience I was totally under her command. I felt slightly vulnerable. Now 6 years later, and many hundreds of modelling sessions, with well over a thousand artists, aged from 16 to 90 having drawn, painted or sculpted me, I feel 100% in command of every session I do. But on that first day, I was standing, feeling hot, not knowing quite what to do or where to put my hands, as I waited to begin my first nude modelling session.
Suzy spent a few minutes getting her materials in position and then looked up and asked me what sort of poses I wanted to do. I’d been practicing a few at home, so I started and as we moved from one pose to another, she explained how to relax into the pose, how foot positioning is one major key to success, and even small changes in a pose can give an artist a whole new challenge. She was fantastically helpful. As it was so hot, and as I became more confident, I stopped covering up when we had breaks or when we were reviewing her drawings. I now know this was not right. Artists are happy to draw or paint the nude figure, but that doesn’t mean they want to socialize with a naked person. She didn’t object that I remained naked, but I won’t ever do that now. As soon as the pose is finished, and if it’s clear that we will have even the shortest of breaks, I cover up out of respect for the artists. Sometimes there’s a moment when I don’t cover up because there’s another pose coming, but the tutor steps in and starts to explain something to the class, so I’m left standing naked until they finish. It feels somehow strange to be naked, but not posing. Suddenly I've become a naked man standing in a room full of clothed people with no role to play, no context in that moment - prior to that I was the object they were drawing. I'm very relaxed about being naked in public, obviously, but those moments still seem a bit strange for some reason.
I’ve read a few accounts of male models who pride themselves, it seems, in not covering up during coffee breaks, and even passing around amongst the artists, looking at their work and commenting to them about it, still “naked & unashamed” Serious models shouldn’t do that. Also, I now know that there is a tendency for the more amateurish male models to do a lot of “man spreading”. I look back on some of my poses and I was guilty of that too, but on one occasion when I was modelling at a High School, for 17 and 18 year olds, the teacher commented on my wide open pose, with a “really?” Since that day I have always made sure my poses are realistic and believable, and I’m conscious not to have my legs wide open unless that particular pose needs it for context, or composition. It will probably shock some of those models to learn that artists don’t really want to draw genitalia that much.
Suzy gave me a few of her drawings, and a few weeks later I had another response to my advert for an artist, and I ended up posing for a young Polish student who did some really great drawings too. I had a portfolio! At that point, I decided I should have some photos taken of my poses, so I could enhance the artists’ work with some real flesh images – so I did the same, I advertised for a photographer to help me pull together a portfolio and in early 2014 I
posed for a lovely Slovakian photographer. She was more used to photographing make-overs and fashion, but she did a great job in capturing some of my novice poses and I still use them to this day if I’m ever sending off my CV to a prospective employer.
One of Suzy's from first ever session.
Self portrait 2014 - pre-circumcision and chest trim!
Suzy's rendition of first man-spreading - 2013
Portfolio spreading 2014
Portfolio Shot - 2014
Portfolio Shot - 2014