Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finding and Keeping a Good Artist's Model.

Artist's models- a valuable human resource, should be treated with respect. Cherie Blair, Tony Blair's wife ( a former Prime Minister of Britain) posed nude for Euan Eglow when she was in her 20's. Gentlemen, they ARE NOT nubile young things waiting to fufill your fantasies- Degas and his contemporary painters fought over the good ones.

But finding a model that fulfills ones requirements on an artist's budget is a daunting task. I pay $20 per hour here in Rhode Island which is about par- The Rhode Island School of Design surprisingly pays a little less. Nude models in bigger cities like New York pay more. Google around. I saw an ad on Craigslist today, that some desperate Rhode Island art student was willing to pay $350 PER DAY, for 8 days  for a nude because he was behind in his work and had to get it done by the end of the semester! This takes work- unless you are really lucky, are in art school and can cajole a friend to pose for you. Some artists can whack out a figurative in an afternoon, Euan Uglow takes at least a year. He had to finish the painting he started with Cherie with another model. He kept the same model for  years when he could.

I usually post on college sites- but if you are suggesting that their girlies might be in the nude- they can be a bit squirrely about posting you on that site. Brown University generally has not posted  my ads for an artist's model unless I say that I am the wife of a former professor of engineering and give his name. Art schools like RISD are a little less prudish. Do not specifically say nude, say figurative- the girls have a choice to ask. If you are a guy, tell them they may bring an escort with them if they choose ( a good idea anyway). It is good to point to a website, gallery, blog  or Facebook site that has pictures of your work. Craigslist has yielded a few leads.  is a good site. I have used it to contact models with good results- it has a feature that allows you to limit the travel distance- I use the 25 mile because gas expenses and travel may not make it worth the while for a model to go farther. I just used the casting call and got an excellent result- from outside the 25 mile travel zone. But that was up to the model- she likes my work and is an art student.

Another resource is the Figure Model Guild. They require that you prove that you are a serious professional. There is a guide for figurative classes - this is the one for New England  Googling yielded one for the UK. I have gone to open figure drawing classes, called art professors and friends to find the right model.

Be specific as to what you want- if you like slim and tall- give a height minimum. Also you may prefer younger- you may not care. I always post an age range of 18-26. I specify beautiful or very attractive to be more PC. Have them send you good clear head shots, non-smiling- not those taken by themselves with a camera held up to their face. Ask for good clear figure shots- bathing suit OK. Assure them that the photos need not be professional. Never specifically ask for nude pictures especially on college web-sites- the kiss of death. Now I find this tricky, I sometimes advertise for Asians which seems to be OK but other than that I usually don't specify race. You can decide for yourself if you can use the model from the pictures provided. My most recent model suggested I say fair-skinned.

What I have found out is that you have to have patience until you find the right model. One girl- who knew where my house was- was a half hour late for her first appointment, lied about her height and passed out after the first 15 minutes of a pose. Make it a regular part-time job the model can count on- say- 4 hours a day 3-4 days a week. Coming to a studio- gas money and time is generally not worth less than 3 hours- unless you are willing to up the ante. 4 hours is about right -the model and you will about have had it

I spent months and too much money with a really nice model, she was entirely wrong for what I was doing- she was reliable but I finally had to let her go. If you feel a model is wrong- do a still-life even if you don't like still-lifes until the right model shows up. Sometimes I have been too hasty to hire one and have regretted it. Have them come for a session or two-then decide before you start your grand oeuvre. One girl I adored, great figure, edgy look, got pregnant two weeks into the job. AAARGH!.

Treat your model with kindness and respect. Remember, that she or he is counting on this money. Make sure you have it. If you personally are sick- make up the money or days. If you go away-and I work this out with the model- I generally pay half the day rate during the time I am gone. If she or he gets sick- be a sport, and pay them for their time unless it for really extended period. Work out something- half pay- something.

Never let visitors in your studio without their permission. Do not photograph them without their permission. The sleaziest thing you can do is pay an artist's model's rate (not the higher photography rate), photograph them and tell them you are not going to use them and paint from the photographs. You will deserve the crappy result. Keep the studio warm, keep a place for them to rest and dress in private Even a folding screen and chair will do- plus an extra clean robe-in case they forget theirs- it happens more often than you think!

Letting the model go. This is very difficult and sometimes I have kept a model on longer than I should. Spending days, weeks, month and in one case three years, they really feel like family. I am still in contact with some I used years ago. You  have to be frank with the model- let them know a reasonable estimate of the finish date. Pay them two weeks severance pay, yes- remember, you want to treat them as you woud like to be treated. I have had only one really horrible experience letting a model go- she was graduating college and was expecting that the job would provide her with a part-time income through the summer until she took up a teaching job in the fall. She had planned to spend the summer at the RI shore. I has been planning a major disruptive overhaul of my house that would start in June, including sledgehammering my old kitchen. I told her 2 months in advance what the end date would be. I had the two week severance check in my hand and was about to say a fond goodby when she went postal, demanded another week of severance pay, refused to leave and threatened to call the police for breach of contract. I left her in my studio and went upstairs and she finally left.

PS. Just a note before you lay out some serious money for a model read this post.

PS. Guys- make sure you have a CLEAN bathroom!

Also when I have time I am going to write a post on being a good artist model.

Here are a few noshows from Model Mayhem.
Lucia Quinn
Did not show up even though she contacted me.

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