The Rules of the Art Model

There are those for whom art
is a calling, a particular life path that makes it more than a hobby. For most painters, or most people learning the craft of it in a painting class, it’s a hobby that could one day turn into a calling. It’s better to investigate first, however, and take as much time, and as many classes, as possible, before making any decisions.

There’s no question that it offers innumerable rewards for everyone, including a sense of well-being, along with a great opportunity to learn some skills that apply to any art of making one’s surroundings more beautiful. Beginning artists are always concerned with these lofty things, but there are other, more basic questions, and one of the most common one is: what are the protocols, if any, for being in the same room with a live model ?

For any student artist, then, of any life path, there will be encounters with live models if the studio is genuinely committed to learning. The first encounters with a human being disrobing in front of a class are almost always uneasy, or even a little disarming. Even people who are completely comfortable with the idea will have a little bit of anxiety when it comes to the actual practice.

It’s no question that the quality of the work takes on a new level, and the essence of drawing or painting people deals with anatomical principles. These principles can only be hinted at with clothes. That part of it is fairly straightforward, but what are the rules?

Basically, what the student needs to keep in mind, are three simple things. Be polite, look at the model, and draw (or paint). Beyond that, any questions should be directed at the model coordinator . If the student needs a better view, or if it looks as though the pose has changed when it’s not supposed to, the coordinator is the one who makes the call, and the final judgments.

Never make unsolicited comments, especially at the very beginning. Some models like to establish a good repoir with classes, and some don’t, so let them be the guide. But never make inappropriate comments.

There may be some classes where the student might want to continue the work on their own. Some models will allow photographs, and some won’t. Best to ask the coordinator, and always tip the model in that situation. Allowing a photograph means that they are potentially losing income they could be earning by posing, so compensation is a good rule of thumb.

Good models are very hard to come by, and an attitude of mutual respect is one that will keep the good ones coming back. Every studio understands that. And every artist, whether it is their calling or their hobby, comes to learn that.