Life modelling – choosing a pose

Short poses can be anything from 15 seconds to 15 minutes. These can be fun as you can try different things, knowing you don’t have to hold them for very long, and switch between different poses that use different muscle groups, minimising any pain or discomfort.

Long poses are normally a max of 20 minutes before a break, sometimes going back into the same pose once, twice or even three times more, depending on the length of a session. The longest I’ve held a pose without a break is around 45 minutes.

A pose that feels comfortable to start with doesn’t always stay that way if you have to do it for a prolonged period of time, so it’s important to get an idea of what kind of poses are comfortable for you. Sometimes you only figure this out with practice and experience and [literally] feeling the pain.

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Here’s some general tips and things to think about when choosing a pose, based on what’s worked (or not worked) for me over the last couple of years:

  • I’ve been told artists are looking for changes in light, shape and texture so anything that includes bending of limbs or creases in skin are always good/interesting
  • Anything with your arms in the air is only good for a very short pose, otherwise they start to shake more than a shitting dog
  • Standing poses are fun, but practice how long you can hold it for, and they’re usually better if you have something to hold onto (I go very wobbly after a minute or two if standing)
  • Standing on one leg is a feat, only give it a go if you have good balance (I don’t)
  • Crossed legs can become numb
  • Pointing your toes means an elegant pose, but as your leg is tensed, it can become uncomfortable so keep these for the short ones
  • Make sure you consciously relax all your limbs before you start – I find sometimes I tense subconsciously and then it’s hard to relax without moving once you’re in a pose
  • Put one hand over the other rather than interlocking your fingers, it’s easier for artists to draw
  • Be conscious of where your head is pointing – if you’re looking up slightly be aware your neck may start to ache and struggle
  • Think about how much of your muff (if you’re a woman) you want to expose; whether you want to do a ‘Basic Instinct’
  • Do a bit of research for poses, both by looking at paintings and websites such as Art Model Tips
  • Short warm up poses are an ideal time to be creative; try dynamic poses and playing around with shapes – artists really appreciate this

I asked a couple of artists I know too, and this is the info I gleaned from them:

  • They use ‘negative’ space, such as the gap between an arm and a torso, so think about poses that provide that (and in an interesting way)
  • The most important thing is for models to stay still; even the slightest move of a finger or arm can really distort the pose and negative space
  • A lot of artists won’t just be drawing the body; they’ll be trying to get a realistic facial drawing too, so head and eye movement stillness is just as important too
  • A variety of poses in a session are always well received
  • Poses that have a dynamic element, such as leaning into a pose, can provide a welcome challenge
  • Making shadows can also be interesting, although this will depend on the lighting available

For any artists out there, feedback on poses is very much welcomed. It’s really good for us models to know what’s working (or isn’t), what’s interesting (or not) and what you’d like to see more of.

More importantly, it’s useful for us to know why, so we can work on building up a repertoire of poses that hit the mark for you.

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