- “Beauty Rules,” from a Lord & Taylor ad in the NY Times. I think that beauty knows better than to rule, because in ruling it ceases being beauty.
- “There is a lot of anger in love sometimes.” Garrison Keillor, Liberty: A Novel of Lake Wobegon, p. 181.
- When is an addition a subtraction? When you put clothes on a good-looking person.
When I first started modeling, I did it in
answer to a dare from models and artists in my Hoboken (NJ) drawing
group that I would find it too embarrassing. I shared this worry, but I
also recognized, with others in the group, that it didn’t make sense
for me to expect other people to do something that—because of
embarrassment—I wasn’t willing to do myself. As soon as I opened myself
to public nudity, I found that the sexual arousal I had worried about
was neither as intense nor as frequent as I had feared. I have once
been invited by a married couple to make pictures of their lovemaking.
This was a most holy and most beautiful thing to do. Models should work
to be symbols and ideals, as well as examples of what we want to be, and
what we wish we were, as well as of what we are.
Figure drawing is drawing people as people are; portraiture is drawing this person as this person is. Figure drawing specializes in what is generic, portraiture in what is specific. Portraiture’s excess is caricature, where individualism moves beyond reality by stressing the “unusual.” We think of Titian’s last drawn self portrait, or Rembrandt’s last painted self portrait, or Bach’s, Bist du bei mir ( “If you are with me, I will go gladly to my death”) included in the collection he compiled for his wife, Notebook for Anna Magdalena. For me, a portrait is always a gift, and I am not doing it right unless I am doing it as a gift for the person I am drawing, whether or not the person I am drawing is to end up with the picture.
Many people are concerned about modeling and sexual expression. For
many years I worried about this, even after I started modeling, and I
still recognize it, in myself and in others, as a disturbing event.
Where sexual interest becomes evident in a modeling situation, it can be
difficult to temper so that it does not interrupt the artistic
environment. In every culture since humanity began, our two chief
interests in other individuals has been loving them or fighting them:
loving them to the point of conception, and fighting them to the point
of death. Not surprisingly, our best art, music and literature has
embodied, nourished and celebrated these realities in our own individual
lives and in the history of our world. We may find it surprising to
see a scroll of two Shinto warriors, each with an erection higher than
his head, or to see a statue of the Hindu goddess Kali with her baby
sitting in her open womb to bless us with a lotus flower; but this is
the way that artists in different cultures have found to summarize their
understanding of the lives we really lead. They belong in our
consciousness, conscience, and memory as a part of what we are.
In the last article, I wrote that “fondness is key.” To some people we are attracted immediately; with others, fondness—even intense fondness—develops, but only over time. Initially, it is respect and openness that is needed if an immediate fondness is not there. Find leads to found leads to fond.
One of the things I have felt since I first began drawing people, and then modeling for them, is that I do best when I am fond of the people I am working with. I want to be able to admire them, look up to them, and find them marvelous, so that my work with them can be my best. Only my best will be good enough for them: good enough for them to be their best for me. I must not be less than my best, because my best is what they deserve. I just realized today that, both as an artist and as a model, this is how I have approached making pictures of people since my first “nude” of Odysseus in third grade.
When I model, I like to put as much of me as I can into the artist-model relationship – so I like to put talking and/or singing as part of the mix.
Continue reading Poems to Model With (1)
There are two things that I want to stress in working with models, and I think that both are important. I want to recognize people when I have seen them before, and I want to remember them between sessions where they model.
Continue reading Recognize and Remember
Maybe the only impossibility that is real is repetition. The only reality that is not new is newness. At the same time, “novelty” is not new, because doing something to-be-new is “old hat.”
Continue reading Teaching as Delight (3)
I have worked with many subjects, and with many students, from nursery school into graduate school. As I have studied “teaching people,” I have learned that the “who-being-taught” is always more important than the “what” that is being taught to them; and that the one result to look for, in all of us, at every point in the process, is delight.
Continue reading Teaching as Delight (2)