Enigma of Models: What Are They Thinking?

Have you ever wondered what a model is thinking while standing bare in front of you so you can draw their human body in various poses? From the moment when for the first time I pulled out my sharpened pencils and roll of newsprint, and the model took her robe off and stood still in the spotlight of the small stage with her face focussed, a mysterious gleam of a saint in her eyes, I have been wondering about that. 

This enigma of models had to be probed. Being an obnoxiously curious creature , a few years into life drawing I dared to ask models about it. What you are thinking when standing there? 

Most of them smiled and shook their heads. Some of them said:

- Nothing of importance.

Of course, they meant: Nothing of importance to YOU. The last resort when your body is exposed in all its glory and misery ( just thinking how my personal history can be read and misinterpreted from the scars on my body makes me shudder with unease) is the privacy of thoughts .

Then, in the last week's New Yorker, there is was a short story by Tom McCarthy, who as a poor, young, aspiring writer had a modeling gig in Prague. I was thrilled to read this passage:

" Standing still for forty minutes—absolutely still, without moving a finger or shifting your line of sight—is something few of us have ever been called on to do. Even fewer have done it naked while circled by twenty people whose gazes are intently focussed on each bend and angle of your body. What I can report of it is this: nothing I’ve ever done, before or since, has afforded me such a state of concentration—intense, extended, charged. I would run whole passages of text—Baudelaire, Rilke, Ponge, whomever I’d been reading, even my own small works in progress—through my head, forward, backward, taking apart each image, amplifying each metre and sub-rhythm in the loaded silence. I probably learned more about literature in the six months I spent on the podium than in the three previous years of study. I also learned about space, in an immediate, almost visceral way."

Finally, an answer to my inquiry! This explains the saintly gleam in the models' eyes!

To read the whole story "The Best, If Worst-Paid, Job I Ever Had" by Tom McCarthy  CLICK HERE.

But regarding the people who draw models - they keep seeing things that aren't there. Drawing a human body can be a difficult mountain to climb. A life drawing from yesterday: