Then. Now. And Later.
I spend many moments in my life reflecting on where I am now, where I was before and where I want to be – later. And one of this moments happened while I was standing on a box, lit by spot lights, surrounded by 4 canvasses, and 4 students – naked.
I remember the first time was ever introduced to the idea of still life modelling, figure modelling, nude modelling. I was around 9- 11 years old, watching the Back to School episode of Mr. Bean. Yes, the man that taught me so many things. Taught me the art of nude modelling.
Mr. Bean, the Instigator.
Those of you who are Mr. Bean fans will remember that, in that episode Mr. Bean finds himself fumbling around many classes and participating in things ranging from chemistry to pottery to judo to yes – nude modelling. I guess that was one of those moments where I found myself becoming aware that not only can there be a painter, painting a subject, but there must be a subject willing to pose for said painter. And I was then in a moment where I thought of where I wanted to be – later. Someday, I wanted to try be a nude model.
Bright Lights and a Wooden Box.
Now, back to me standing on the white wooden box, a warn heater humming at my feet and bright lights beaming down upon all my nooks and crannies. With all this travelling back and forth in my mind – it’s like a episode of Dr. Who. I was now in a place, reflecting on where I was now, and where I was before, thinking of where I wanted to be.
There’s something really cathartic about moments like these. When, dreams are actualized and you find yourself doing something you’ve often thought of doing. In this particular art form of figure modelling, I had the chance to be given ample time to reflect and think. That’s because you basically have to be still – in this case – for 20 -35 minutes at a time while the students can complete their assignments.
Posing in Wait.
In the 3 hour class, I was requested to complete 5 poses for 20 -35 minutes each. The instructor would give feedback and new challenges with each drawing and everyone would take a few minutes to view their peers’ work in-between each drawing. The instructor would often ask me how I was doing and whether the heat lamp needed to be adjusted. At the end of each drawing she would invite me to step down and I would be included in the walk around to view the drawings. It’s really fascinating to see yourself in the eyes and hands of others. Fascinating!
If At First You Don’t Succeed. Wait 5 years.
Like I said earlier, this is something I have thought about throughout my lifetime ever since I was a young child. It’s something that I have wavered on in terms of actively thinking about doing it but not actually trying to do it. Then about 5 years ago when I just moved to Fort Mcmurray, I remember walking through Keyano college and seeing a sign calling for nude models. This was the first time I actively reached out.I contacted the organizer and waited. She emailed me back, saying the positions were already full. Bummer.
Flash back forward to about 2 months ago. I was having lunch with a friend and she mentioned the name of a coworker. The same lady I remembered that was organizing the models. I asked my friend if she could talk to her coworker about getting me fast tracked on the list. You know… pulling my connections. Wink. Lo and behold, I’m back in the system and before you know it I’m signing contracts and setting up a schedule for the upcoming classes. She gave me a walk through of the studio and the procedure in which to unclothe myself. Oh yeah, so you DON’T just drop trough. Good. I’m glad she told me that.
Double High Five.
There’s actually a very clear separation from being Melba to – The Object. It made me think back (yes another flashback) to when I was in Cabaret and the director wanted this actor and myself to mime a very intimate sexual scene. The other actor taught me a transition so that there was clear separation from when the scene started, to when it ended so that I could be comfortable working with him.
Right before the scene he told me would double high five and right after the scene we would Double High Five Again. A clear start and a clear finish. I laughed, at first, probably out of nervousness but looking back I’m glad he showed me that technique because I don’t think we could be friends now if he just mime mounted me without notice.
With that thought in mind. In this case, in stead of a double high five before and after. It was the robe. I wear a robe when I am not on the box, and when I am on the box I don’t wear the robe. Everyone has their own preferences on how to get in the zone, but for me, I found my own Double High Five. Mentally I can define where my comfort zone lies. And that way it clearly defines to the class what my comfort zone is as well.
Lights. Canvas. Action.
It was happening. Mr. Bean inspired me to be that person that I always wanted to be. That woman holding a bowl of fruit below my breasts… That’s not actually what happened but a girl can dream.
I remember walking into the room. With my plush black robe, and the instructor was giving notes on what she wanted the students to draw. And then. “Okay, Melba can you stand on the box for me?”
Ask yourself. Where are you now? Where were you before? And where do you want to be – later?