11 Delightful Lessons I’ve Learned Posing Nude For Art

Posing Nude For Art Life Lessons Post

Tuesday morning, 1st February 2022. I’m laying in a floatation tank at a wellness centre in Brighton, UK. I’m relaxing in this large Epsom salt bath deprived of sound, sight, and touch sensations – an experience that should take me out of my body and calm my mind. Later that day I’m about to feel rather the opposite – intensely embodied – as I am very much expected at a life drawing class at Beach Creative, a community art hub in Herne Bay, Kent, where I promised to model nude for the very first time in my life.

This opportunity to spice up my work experience bouquet arose unexpectedly though very much organically – by word of mouth. Someone I knew told me about this group of artistic people, her included, who gather every Tuesday night to work on their sketches of a nude model. From 30-second to 20-minute poses, the model switches and turns and bends and stretches while the drawing crew scratch their paper sheets with pens, pencils, or charcoal in an attempt to encapsulate and, even more so, interpret the beauty of a human body generously revealed before their eyes.

The week before this fateful Tuesday I went to attend the life sketching session from the other side – as one of the artists. I was advised to do so since I’ve never modelled nude before, and observe the model and the room while trying my hand at sketching too.

Here I must note that until then I’d never sketched a nude model either, let alone a male, and I couldn’t believe how this situation has petrified me. For the whole of the session before the break I could feel my crab-like shell growing tighter and harder around me, my heart thumping, my hand shaking. In my mind, I kept repeating to myself “no way am I going to model next week, not a chance, nuh-uh!” It didn’t help when during the session the group organizer sat down next to me and asked how do I feel about the next week. Having a biological inability to lie, the closest to a lie I could get was uttering “I’m not sure…”

But everything changed when during the break the model (with his coat on) sat down to have a chat with me. He likely overheard the terror in my voice and sensed a spiky vibe dwelling around my body during the sketching session. After working as a nude model for over a decade, though, he knew exactly what to say to a newbie like me calming me down like some kind of an angel. After that chat, I knew I must do it and I knew it will be good for me.

Next Tuesday, driving back to Kent from a week’s getaway with my boyfriend in Brighton, I was feeling just fine, not nervous at all. However, after enjoying a glorious Canterbury sunset, it was time for me to start getting ready. It was then when I felt like slipping into this dreamlike state. I was terrified and invigorated at the same time. One part of me couldn’t believe that I was actually doing it while another was already grateful for this gift of an experience.

I knew that, no matter how it turns out, I’ll remember this day for the rest of my life.

Here are 11 lessons that posing nude for a drawing class has taught me:
Model: Audra Bajori. Artist: Richard Page
1. Doing the thing that frightens you the most will reward you the most.

This was one of those occasions when a fierce reaction in my body, that I could identify as fear, not intuition at all, meant that I absolutely must do what I set out to do. After all, there’s a reason I’ve committed to doing it in the first place! The stronger the fear, the more rewarding it will be to overcome it.
How do you separate fear from your intuition? Well, I’m still on the path of learning it myself. But from what I’ve come to understand so far in my experience is that intuition is a calm inner knowing and clarity, truly deeply calm, and it comes from my heart area, whereas fear is a snowballing anxiety that clouds my mind and feels really uncomfortable, almost painful, throughout my whole body. Here’s a concise explanation and a helpful advice from American entrepreneur Marie Forleo.

2. Your body is an artwork in itself.

Our bodies are unique and all of the things that make them different from others make them interesting. Especially in the artist’s eye. On the other hand, we are our own artists, shaping our bodies. We are born with genetic predispositions, sure, but we do create our bodies by means of a lifestyle, exercise, diet, even our thoughts.
Some wrinkles, spots, moles, tattoos, or curves can make anyone feel insecure about one’s body in a day to day life. But when I stood there naked in front of a group of artists I was proud of mine one and I relished it because it was my own artwork, my beloved vessel.

3. Different sets of eyes see you differently.

Nothing shows how subjective our reality is just like seeing a range of sketches of your body by different artists. Different techniques, different skillsets, different points of view, attention to different things. Even in our daily lives, all of us only interpret what we see. Our minds create our own reality. There is no objective truth, there is no objective you.

4. You are much more beautiful than you think you are.

Two women artists gave me compliments about my looks privately during the break and that I received as a kind gift.
It made me think that I truly feel like a diva only when I’m naked in my privacy OR when my clothes compliment my body, when my haircut and hairdo compliment and reveal my face, and, especially lately, when I wear a minimal amount of make-up or no make-up at all. What it says is that true confidence comes from highlighting your natural beauty rather than masking and thus giving your attention to what you think you should hide or fix.
Can clothes ever do our bodies justice? Well, I guess we can at least consciously try. Showing the world what is uniquely you is the key. Don’t hide, own it!

5. Being vulnerable in front of other people reveals your true self.

Standing naked in front of a group of strangers is a pretty vulnerable moment. It seemed as if I got naked emotionally too. I felt incredibly human and incredibly pure.

Model: Audra Bajori. Artist: Paul Jarvis
6. There’s more to your naked body than sexuality.

Women know best how it feels for our bodies to be oversexualized in our society. Some of us have the programme more ingrained in our self-image than others.

Rehearsing for my first modelling session the night before in front of a full-body mirror was deeply revealing of this truth.

How much time do you spend in your body without any clothes on in a non-sexual way? How differently do you feel, what emotions emerge? How often do you find your naked body being tossed between the feelings of shame and lust?

7. Modelling for a drawing class is the next level of yoga.

In yoga, you learn the power of movement and, even more so, the power of stillness. Modelling for sculpture, painting, drawing or any other slow-brew artform is another level of yoga. Staying still in a pose for a prolonged period of time is exactly what Yin Yoga promotes.
Even though I successfully stayed in my poses still and firm, the delicious aches I felt in my whole body the next day were quite revealing – a sign I needed to bounce back to my exercise routine! The next session, after a month of going to the gym and running in the woods, was much easier. Modelling also happened to become my unintended introduction to the aforementioned Yin Yoga philosophy and practice.

8. Modeling for a drawing class is the next level of meditation.

You would imagine that models just occupy their thoughts with something else while posing to kind of zone out of a relatively awkward situation. My experience was quite the opposite – I was very much zoomed in, full-on in the here and now! I couldn’t think of anything else than the present moment and micro balancing my body with my inner muscles because the moment I would start thinking of something else, I would feel myself moving a tiny bit too much. I loved this mental exercise!

9. Always try new things – you might discover your hidden talent.

The purpose of what I’m about to say is not to brag, but the group literally couldn’t believe I was modelling for the first time! They thought I did a great job and modelled professionally, tried to strike a variety of different, sometimes difficult, poses, and stayed still with success.

In all fairness, I surprised myself. I always knew I loved the stage – for public speaking, acting, and such – but I never imagined loving modelling so much. Who knows, maybe it’s the beginning of a new side career of mine. Why not?

Model: Audra Bajori. Artists: Sarah Allen (left) and Paul Jarvis (right)
10. Every human is a teacher, every community is a school.

The word “community” is blinking in my mind more and more often. Around this time when I discovered Beach Creative arts hub, I’ve started to be more conscious of the people I spend my time with and what we do with that time together. I’ve started exploring and got involved with different communities in the vicinity of my current home, communities that brought together humans seeking self-development in one way or another.

Every person that you meet is your potential teacher. Every community is a little school of thought and emotion. It’s more than a sum of its members. Get involved in communities, find or create your own tribe!

11. Finding room for art in your life is a must.

And especially so if you doubt your own artistic abilities. Art doesn’t have rules and creativity is basically our instinct, our inborn right and duty for our souls! Could I be more dramatic with this? I sure can, but let’s leave it at that.

Modelling for a drawing class gave me a chance to bathe for two hours in a visual art world. Kind of like in that floatation tank the morning before. I played a part in it, in the field of creation. And that made me remember that we are constantly creating – ourselves, others, our lives, our realities.

Everything and everyone is changing all the time so we might as well go along with it and play with it, trying to capture the moment, the feeling, the sensation in our art form of choice. And don’t forget to juggle them! Writing, playing music, singing, drawing, painting, acting – we are all capable of doing something creative. Do it just for the fun of it, for pleasure, for therapy, for meditation, for revelation, for clearance, for exploration.

***

I’ve modelled for this art group in Herne Bay two times, one month in between. And I must say I really hope I’ll do that many times more, for the same class and perhaps even others that I’ll happen to find on my path in other places of the world. I am definitely hooked! The things that this experience unleashed in me I did not expect, although could intuit, and I am utterly humbled and so very much grateful.

You’ll never know what happens until you do it. If you feel the urge to do it, there’s a reason why.

***

Featured Image: Model Audra Bajori (tagged), Artist Caz Hill

Thanks to the Beach Creative Community Art Hub & Gallery and all the artists of the Life Drawing Class group.

And special thanks to Sarah, Hollie and Charlie’s mum, for getting me involved!

Image source: Beach Creative

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