I was holding back with posting this but after receiving congratulatory from a few people who have spotted a painting of me in the 2015 September issue of House & Garden Magazine UK I thought why not! So here I am announcing it and in all honesty it has been such a reward! [Jumps with joy] I feel extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to pose for Phoebe Dickinson and for painting “Ruby Magic” to be recognised within the figurative art world.
Article written by Emily Tobin.
It is like a ritual for most art models who, towards the end of the day posing, spend a brief moment before the start of their evening session, mentally prepare themselves for the session. For me it is like a prayer to our Art Model Gods…Please make this an easy session for me tonight, make the last three hours feel like two! I quickly try to scuff down my cold sandwich. It was my second week when I made my way up the stairs to the studio. I pushed open the door and to my amusement I noticed a man sitting at a small table with his eyes turned towards me. He wore glasses that were perched on an impressive nose. We glared at each other and a small frown appeared on his brow. Simultaneously I closed the door behind me and we greeted each other “Hello…I haven’t seen you here before”. When one personality meets another for the first time, there is a period of mutual examination on the intuitive level of empathy and identification. But it was impossible for me to relate to John in any way. He was a tall thick-set older man with brown hair growing low on his forehead above his quizzical eyes. His small apron matched his long sleeve shirt, both were the colour of a band-aid. He was incompetent and was the target of devastating criticism. After our brief examination I rushed towards the back of the room to put down my bag, coat and half-eaten sandwich. A squirrel finds a treat along its journey across Kensington Park Gardens, quickly bites away, then hoards the rest for later…ahhh something to look forward to! Once the art students finished settling into their spaces, I stood in front of the room ready to pose. The art teacher requested that I take my position in four different ten minute poses before a break, and then the long pose. As I keep still in my pose I started to watch John greedily as he rose from his table and chair; shuffling across the room without adjusting his dark green jogging bottoms which revealed a glimpse of his backside. Is this his moment? To come away from his reality; walking down the bleak concrete stairway of a 1960’s council building located in North London, holding a large, heavy black bag full of all of his art materials, escaping from the prosaic day-to-day life with his mother, a recent widow and now regretful of her relinquishment of her only child? John wanted to become a pilot but he never had the courage like his father, his mother reveals down the phone to one of the members of the church choir.
There was no way of hiding that I took a liking towards John. When my body settled into the long pose I started to concentrate on the sounds that filled the room of the students’ art instruments battling away onto their drawings. The easels and the drawing boards clash against each other creating a rhythm. The wooden floor boards vibrate underneath the students’ feet each time they step back, glancing at their work, checking for any errors. The teacher walks around the studio glancing over at their art work making some suggestions. Then he suddenly walks towards John and points at his drawing. Inevitably it takes John a moment to return from his parallel dimension. “You see, that leg is wrong.” John can usually speak normally enough, but he is not quite back from the realm. Although he put his piece of charcoal down, the drawing still continues drafting in his head. John frowns and scratches his head in thought. The teacher suspects John must feel, at times, when he is most fervent and hopeful about his art, that conducting an ordinary observation is like shouting in the middle of a construction site. My eyes widen, eager to see John’s reaction…“Really?”
“Yes…you see…” The teacher explains then, without a pause, he slowly walks away like a ghost drifting away in the mist. John pushes back his glasses, picks up his piece of charcoal and continues drawing as if the ghost did not scare him at all.
Stay tuned for the next blog entry: “Gin, Cigarettes, Dog Food”.
I know that it has been a while but I’m here to share some great news. I was asked to write a short article for the BBC: Get Creative which is a year long celebration of the arts in Britian. Many of you already know how passionate I am towards my life as an artists’ model and I am very pleased to take part in this series amongst other inspiring British Artists.
All of the support and encouragement has been inspirational towards my life as an artists’ muse.
Thank you and please stay tuned for the next blog entry about a man named John.
Hurray! Another speed life drawing video that I created of me posing for artist Desmond Healy at Hampstead School of Art.
It’s interesting to see how still I was during that pose! Please take a look and let me know what you think.
The time has to be up – it feels like five minutes already! My leg starts to shake as I start sweating. Feeling the drips of sweat glide across my back, man, I really am missing those timers. I start thinking back to the time when I was modelling at the art schools in New York. There was always someone with their eye on the clock whilst I was posing – when it was time to move on there was no messing around. Through my experience here in England, people are a little more liberal; we agree timings but I know that oftentimes I’m just going to be waiting until someone realises they want tea and biscuits again!
I knew it would take me a little time to re-acclimatise myself to the idiosyncrasies of life here and at certain times I even questioned my reasoning in coming back here at all. As soon as I started modelling again those concerns began to fade. I was received with open arms and wide smiles by old friends and acquaintances from the art schools of Oxford and London and I tried to harness that positive energy, as well as all that I had learned in my time in New York, to create inspiring poses and a great atmosphere.
But I’m still holding in this pose which was suppose to be five minutes… Is it tea time yet?
The city never sleeps at night.
Blood and bodies form, I watch their intermittent movements through a kinetoscope as they start to surround me, beckoning me down towards their inferno. Reconciling within the coexistence as I start to hear many different languages that I do not speak.
To be or to not to be, you are who you are.
My appetite has been spoiled as I hunt through the gritty and dusty hazard areas. Inhaling the city’s gusts causes me to frequently blow residue out of my nose as if I am recovering from a ghastly reaction. The underworld labyrinth filled with roaring noises of performers, hustlers, and eagerly distressed beggars.
I found shelter in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
I become indisposed, unwilling to engage with the banal conversations around me. Camouflaged reptiles start to shed, who feast upon the starving and in the desperation become cunts. My immunity built through targeted exposure. Trying not to get sucked in as the quicksand can easily be in disguise. A lingering bitch during heat attracts at night, I am being followed. Collecting from a trail of broken hearts and empty cigarette boxes leaves me in sorrow.
My eyes are closed and I am elsewhere.
Dreaming of dolphins; my spiritual guidance has awoken and I dream of an unborn child whose mother will also be its father. I baptize myself in the warm sand and I feel fresh. A different kind of jungle filled with bamboo and pleasantry. I follow the horizon into a washed out aquarium searching for fire unmindful of that is what I am. I was blind but now I can see. Nature suddenly becomes even more beautiful, it felt like the first time. Multiple climax, I fail to regain consciousness and I walk around nude as if we will in paradise.
Six months have passed and I now feel ready to begin the next chapter.
My New York experience has been one of discovery and inspiration. It has been as beautiful as it has been challenging but now I feel a yearning to move on.
She hasn’t noticed me staring because she is so engrossed in her sculpting. I can’t help wondering, what is she thinking? I see her, directly in front of me, a warm smile on her face, looking as if she is rising above the mundanity of our day to day life. Sitting motionless in the nude, I am perched on a tall, rotating plank just five feet away from her. I’m so close to her that I can feel her warmth, and her passion for her work draws me in.
I envy her calm satisfaction as the pain from my pose makes me sweat. During the classes I am regularly asked whether I am an artist and I reply “no, not yet” but I have never felt so eager to start; to get my hands dirty and to lose myself in the process. Generally artists arrive at the class with enthusiasm and even excitement for the class. Then throughout the class their grunts and four letter clues tell me that their frustrations are getting the better of them. I have been posing for this sculpting class for the last three weeks and each time Sax walks in it is the same; she finds her place, she locates her piece, she ties her apron and then she is gone, ethereal. Not a single word, not a single gasp of frustration, not a moment of frowns. I found myself reflecting on memories of previous classes in which the artists have already become upset with themselves and each other before we had even begun. They would disagree about my pose or the layout of the easels. I recalled instances in which I heard altercations between the artists. I will never forget the disappearing lady who tried and tried so hard to learn how to draw and kept beating herself up over it and eventually left half way through a class.
As the lecture rotates me I stop recalling memories and as I return to the class my eyes fall back on to Sax who is a picture of serenity. Whilst others become frustrated with themselves and their limitations, Sax is content. Her disposition reminds me that the beautiful things in life must remain beautiful, what we do for leisure should bring us happiness. I slightly turn my head to get a clear vision of her hand moulding the clay. She is still smiling and she still doesn’t notice me staring.
About a month ago I visited Frank at his studio and recorded this video.
He was all set up ready to start our private life drawing session when I asked if it would be OK for me to video record him. Luckily he agreed to it and after fidgeting around with the camera I pressed the red button. We managed to capture him in motion with charcoal during a ten minute quick pose. I sped up the frame rate of the video so you can watch Frank working super quick!
If artists worked this fast in real life then my bum would not get so numb.
Directly in front of me there is a small clock hanging on the wall. The big hand is on 6 and the little hand is approaching 8. Having sat still for over an hour I begin to think to myself that I can wait out the remaining thirty minutes until my break. I’ll take the pain. I won’t stretch. I begin to think back to an hour earlier: I arrived at Frank Gambino’s art studio dressed head to toe in vintage garments. Frank took one look at my outfit and immediately asked if we could change the life session to a portrait one. Of course I agreed and so did the other three artists present. I thought to make the most of this unexpected portrait session by creating a gesture pose. So I flamboyantly walked over to the wooden chair and sat down doing my best impression of a 50’s movie star. I crossed my feet and looked slightly down to my left. My right arm was rested upon my lap whilst my fingers slightly gripped the pleats of my dress and my left arm was supported against the back of the chair. My aim for this three-hour pose was to make this portrait look as if I was a lady who lost in her thoughts. After a matter of minutes my mind began to wander. I disconnected from the class, from my surroundings and even the pose. I began to revel in fantasies and plans, ambitions and memories. After a while I realised that I had authentically become the pensive character that I had set out to create. When posing nude for a life drawing session, as opposed to a portrait, the model tends to think more about the pose and which pose will follow. You are acutely aware that the artists in front of you are examining your entire body structure, the shadows and every curve and line. Therefore the model tries to strike a pose which enhances these structures, giving the artist as much as possible to work with.
After a while, I don’t know how long, I came back out of my deep thinking and my mind returned to the studio. As my concentration waned slightly I found myself watching the artists at work. It occurred to me that watching them create their art felt similar to watching a spider spinning its web. One of them glanced at me so I quickly moved my eyes back to where they should be, hoping they did not notice.
As artists become engrossed in their work they each have their own ways of unintentionally expressing themselves. They contort their faces and let out little noises of frustration or satisfaction. In my job as a life model it is impossible to ignore these expressions. We hear everything – be warned! During the session I notice one artist becoming particularly frustrated. I concentrate back on my pose in an attempt to provide some positive energy. I breathe in and before I exhale I focus on my pressure points; the pressure on my feet where the heel of my left shoe is pressing against the top of my right foot; feeling how stiff and tight my ankle joints are; my left arm which is going numb and my hand which feels cold as the blood flows away from my fingers; my other hand, which is slightly gripping my dress; and the feeling of the polyester against my fingertips. I look down, cross my eyes slightly and try to pinpoint the direction in which my nose is pointing so that I can find my head position when I come back into the pose. I start to shift my weight to ease the pain and then I notice that my bum is completely numb. I consider trying to move my body in a subtle way to bring the feeling back. But everyone is intensely focused. The energy is positive and the grunts and facial contortions seem positive. So instead I continue to sit still, trying to focus on the pose and before I know it I am lost in my thoughts again. When I return the big hand hits 12 and the little hand stands still on 8.