One of the greatest pleasures of the atelier is working from life models. Five mornings a week, for four full years, we draw insipration from the human form. How many artists are able to have such a luxury? Not many... and we are well aware of it.
The Artist's Model
We are blessed with models who are inspired, thoughtful, and work in concert with us to produce otherwise impossible works of art. In order to retain professional, skilled models, there are a few simple guidelines that every artist should know. While these are specific to multiple-artist settings (schools, studios, and/or drawing groups), many of the points can be applied to individual artists as well. Please read on.
When your model arrives, make sure to tell them what your plan is for the session, the poses expected, and the duration of the poses. Ask if there are poses that the model cannot do and then take it from there when setting your pose(s) for the session.
Always supply a clean area for your model to pose on (including clean cushions and/or linens) and a space heater or a fan in cases of chilly or overly-warm studios.
Firm foam padding is excellent for support during standing poses, while cushions and pillows allow for comfort during seated and reclining poses.
If your model needs to stretch out a painful body part during the pose, please allow it. Holding strenuous poses without small stretches can lead to joint and/or nerve damage over time.
Breaks and Timing
Although some poses may seem comfortable to the artist, they can begin to result in pain for your model. Poses are generally taken for sets of 20 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break; a long, 15 minute break is normally given in the middle of a typical 3 hour session.
For more comfortable seated and reclining poses, your model may be willing to hold the pose for a longer period of time. Make certain to get her/his permission ahead of time and adjust the duration of breaks accordingly.
Be mindful of timing when your model is posing. Some models do like to time themselves-- but if you are running the timer, make certain to set it at the beginning of each pose and for each break.
Adjusting the Pose
When a model returns from her/his break, it is natural that they will not be in the same exact position. Make certain that only one member of the group is verbally guiding the model back into the pose, as directions from multiple artists can become confusing.
Privacy and Personal Space
Make sure to keep studio doors closed while your model is posing and obtain the permission of your model before any visitors enter the studio.
The modeling stand should be the territory of the model alone when s/he is on the clock It also goes without saying that you should never touch your model unless you have received her/his express consent.
Under no circumstances should you ever photograph your model without her/his express consent. If you are photographing your model, it is highly advised that you discuss this with her/him in advance and that you both sign a model release form. This form will protect both yourself and your model. Also be aware that most models will charge a flat hourly fee for photography.
Of course, thanking your model doesn't hurt either-- and, while not required, small tokens of appreciation and applause aren't unheard of at the end of long poses. Skilled, reliable models are invaluable to artists and treating them with respect will ensure that they will return... and allow you to continue creating inspired works of art.