I had been an artist’s model once before. When I was in the energetic heights of being an art student at Ventura College. The day the model didn’t show up for our life drawing class, I volunteered. This was back in the 80’s. It was one of the best exercises for me as an artist. To sit still and hold a pose. 30 seconds, 1 minute, 5 minutes, then the finale of 20 minutes. It was a more difficult feat than I thought. I gleaned a new respect for our models.
While I was in Ashland,OR last month, Austin asked me to pose.
Painting is her passion.
She originally wanted me there so she could work off of Donna Granata’s photo of me in the “glass dress”. When I arrived and saw that she had started with a painstaking accuracy of the laying out a grid in order to get proportions correct in relation to the photo, I asked if that is how she usually works.
“No” was her answer.
I didn’t think so.
I see her paintings as spontaneous splashes of soulful color and shape, not the “thought out”, “get it right” type of work she was approaching. I asked her if she would consider painting me in her new bath tub which is cradled in a beautiful arched window.
Her eyes lit up.
It would be fresh.
For me, for her.
A scene of the moment, not from a photo.
With easel, canvas, and paints we hustled into the bathroom.
The college experience came back to me. I could just feel the scratch, scratch, grr, grr, of the brush on Austin’s canvas as she dove into the start of her painting. I had to laugh out loud as I heard the sound of her passion gnawing away. It is contagious, passion is.
The smell of paint, quiet concentration, and me in my model mind, forced into the moment of full attention by not wanting my foot to sag, my leg to drift out of it’s original position, or my body to slide in any way, all the while, wanting to relax enough and not be worried about moving. It is quite an experience.
The art of staying still.
As my time in Oregon was coming to an end, Austin wanted to make sure she had details to work from, so I agreed to do some modeling for her to shoot photographically. Getting in and out of the bath tub, drying off, close ups of feet, hands, face, water, etc.
While we were doing this, it occurred to me that Austin could model and I shoot images of her. A bit hesitant, she finally agreed, saying that she could use the photos to work from for a self portrait or two.
So off go her clothes and the classic, stepping out of the bath, gazing out the window poses continued until the finale of a serious Vitruvian Man pose that was beautifully framed in the window. Right at that moment, through the window, up on the very scarcely trafficked road, I saw a cop car, going super slow. “Austin, the cops” she jumped for the towel and we both looked at each other and just about died laughing.
Later, while looking over the photos on the computer screen, up pops the image of Austin, arms and legs spread out, beautifully back lit, the front of the cop car to the left of her head and the back of the cop car to the right. I didn’t realize I got the cops in the shot and I’m glad I did.