I did a naked public thing, a nudey rudey thing, an arty farty thing, a fatty gelaty thing!Yep, this week I got my kit off at 8 months pregnant for a life drawing class.
Let's skip back a few years to when I was in university. Life drawing classes were a part of my degree in Fashion Design. I remember being amazed at the confidence these life models had. Their bodies were all shapes and sizes, young and old, hairy or bald, a mix of flabby and thin. I couldn't have imagined at that stage in my life having the confidence to walk into a room of strangers, strip off and then literally "bare all" in the bright and awfully unflattering fluorescent light, positioned in various awkward and exposing angles. What possessed them to do it? were they desperate for the cash? did they get a kick out of exposing themselves? What gave them such confidence in their own imperfect natural skin? Whatever their reason was I was grateful for the chance to share the experience. I remember one life model being pregnant and thinking it seemed to be an extremely liberating experience for her. As well as very precious experience for us to be part of this woman's private and miraculous journey.
Skip forward ten years, here I was 8 months pregnant chatting to a dear friend over a cuppa. She was talking about how she and her daughter had just done a masters drawing class at the National Gallery of Victoria and that her daughter was now inspired to do some life drawing classes. This conversation had just followed one where I was saying how I needed a little bit more freelance work prior to bub's arrival. A flash of the memory above hit me and I thought well its now or never! With 8 weeks left before my bub was due I had just enough time to contact some life drawing classes and see if they had any vacancies for life models.
How my attitude to my body had changed over those years. I was the biggest I had ever been, the most out of shape, I had stretch marks on my breasts and hips and..... WAIT FOR IT.... I was almost 100KGS!! (98.9kg to be precise!). Yet the confidence I had within my own skin was the highest it had ever been. A combination of being confident with who I was as a person and amazed at my own bodies ability to grow another human being,,, I was no longer bothered if someone else saw me naked.
So how did the actual experience pan out... I started to get slightly worried the week of the event as a heat wave hit Melbourne and the day I was due to model was predicted to be 41 degrees! I was determined not to cancel, I was going to do this "rain, hail or SERIOUS SHINE". I arrived early at Atelier 451 (pictured below) and met the lovely Veronika who owns and runs this art studio in Melbourne's southern suburb of Ormond. She ran me thru the structure of the class which consisted of five 1 minute poses (which I would count in my head before changing position), five 5 minute poses (which I used a hand held timer for), followed by four 10 minute poses and then four 20 minute poses. Veronika informed me that usually her classes consisted of 6-9 people, but due to the heat she expected a low attendance that evening. It ended up only 2 people arrived (Veronika was also drawing so 3 in total). I didn't mind, it was an easy introduction to the process and less intimidating with only 3 sets of eyes sizing up my lumps and bumps. Due to the heat Veronika would kindly spray me with a cool water bottle every now and again (I felt like some kind of exotic plant in a greenhouse ha ha ha!). By the end of the class I was not bothered what so ever to be traipsing around the room naked, checking out people's sketches and taking a few snapshots of their work.
Snapshot below of the studio before the class begins (Atelier 451)
Kit off, drawing begins
I took a few photos of the participants sketches, I love this one.
It was fun to see one of the longer poses in colour (love that my hand is blue)
So will I do it again?... definitely! I really enjoyed the experience, in fact I already have another 3 classes booked at various locations around Melbourne in the coming 4 weeks that I have left before my bub is due to arrive. I will keep you posted on how those experiences pan out and endeavour to take some more snapshots from those classes to share.
So how much cashola does this work cough up? The money was pretty low considering you were getting naked in front of a room of people... it is usually about $70-80 for the evening (for a 2 hour class). I usually had to add a 2 hour return car trip onto that also as my house is out of the city. So I was doing it as much for the experience (with the added bonus of a small payment).
To be perfectly honest sometimes pregnancy can be a little bit of a bore, no drinking or partying for 9 months. Appointment after a appointment with poking and prodding, blood tests, glucose tests, legs akimbo. Plus the discomfort of backaches, pressure on your bladder, sleepless nights. You are literally sharing your body with another being, you don't have control over when it kicks or moves, how big it grows or when it decides to change position. So this experience felt like a little bit of a rebellious thrill. My body is still mine and I am going to use it, share it and even get paid for it (cheeky!).
I felt proud of myself for doing something a little risque, I felt liberated that I had the courage and confidence to stand naked in front of other people with all my lumps and bumps and imperfections.