As I lay in bed this morning trying to summon the courage to a) wake up and b) step into anything other that the warmth of my bed, I realized that there are probably 5 ice-solid months between me and Not Freezing. We've come to the point where winter shoves itself right up our asses and I attempt not to freeze to death every single day. We will now spend the next Forever wishing we lived in tropical climates while being served Long Islands from a lawn chair. We've entered into the zone where time does not exist. I think I just made a Twilight Zone reference.
But seriously, geology played a cruel joke on the Midwest when it bestowed upon us this Merry-go-fuck-yourself ride of weather. I will never forgive my parents for staying here and torturing their children with Chicago winters and not moving to say, SOMEWHERE HOTTER, either.
Around this time of year -- between hourly hot showers, contemplating how to get away with not moving for most of the day and whether or not anyone would still talk to me if I wore a blanket around my shoulders -- I usually start getting calls from various drawing leagues in the area to come in and work. This is where I wonder whether or not to delve into the fact that I am -- in varying frequencies, depending upon the season -- an art model.
I guess that cat's out of the bag.
Just to answer your questions in advance, because I've revealed this too many times and had to navigate around those wanting to ask but simultaneously too shy:
- Yes, that means naked.
- You can stop laughing nervously while you try not to glance at my boobs.
- That was actually a pretty good boob joke.
- Yes, the money is fairly good when you're needed.
- No, it doesn't make me uncomfortable.
When I tell people this I mostly get men that glance shiftily at each other or laugh uncomfortable as mentioned above; or women that look at me as if I am some foreign creature who deems her body worthy enough to bring it into the outside world unclothed. Overall I just like seeing how fast I can get the receiving party to change the subject out of discomfort or ask me more questions hoping I might actually say "boob".
The truth is I really enjoy this work. Not because I get to be the center of attention for a few hours at a time or because I think I could have been friends with Athena, but because it is some of the only time in my life when I am forced to just sit down and shut up. For 3 hours, a few times a month, the only thing between me and my thoughts are the neurotransmitters synapsing across my hemispheres. If I were actually able to meditate on a daily basis, this is what it would look like. Maybe I'd wear clothes.
I began modeling as an experiment in self-acceptance back when I lost weight and have followed it all the way through getting fat and thin and fat-ish and thin-ish again. The bare bones and beauty of art modeling is that it doesn't matter two nipples from none what you look like. Life drawing is about what the student sees and how he puts it down on paper. And the more comfortable you are with yourself, the better it will be translated on the other end. And to be honest? I feel more comfortable in this type of setting, wearing nothing at all, than I often do clothed in the real world.
I learned through not caring how my stomach bulged when I sat a certain way or whether or not my cellulite showed in this or that light how to love and accept my body. I learned through how little those that drew me cared about the same things that the human form is in all its forms beautiful. And I learned from doing it that curvy bodies are more interesting to draw than those with straight lines. Sorry, twiggies.
Today, however, I remembered just how uncomfortable it can be when you're needed to sit around in the buff during colder months. If you've ever reclined in a cold warehouse for a few hours at a time NOT MOVING, then you know what I mean. As I lay there contemplating just how shivering keeps the body warm and what the hell kind of biological response goosebumps are (thoughts, Nichola?) I also remembered what it feels like to have your arm thoroughly and completely fall asleep. Note: it feels kind of like your arm is doing the chicken dance without you.
Despite the occasional discomforts and the odd sideways glance from people that think I engage in some form of prostitution, being an art model has been one of the best things I've ever done for myself. It's taught me to be a better artist and a better attention-payer. From art modeling I learned to be still, infinitely patient, and introspective. A few skills I didn't have much of a grasp on until I began.
I also like to play a little game where I make eye contact with new students and see how long it takes them to hastily look away. That's always fun.