Melissa Stanger. Save for intimate partners, I hate being naked in front of other people. My own mother hasn't seen me naked since I was about seven or eight. Even when I'm in a bathing suit at the beach or in my underwear in the gym locker room, my mind immediately goes to what other people might be thinking about my body — how they might be judging or scrutinizing it.
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Illustration by Stephanie Rudig I took off my robe and tossed it on the floor, and all eyes were fixed on me. My first foray into figure drawing was in high school when I wanted to build a portfolio that I could use to apply to art colleges. So my mom signed me up for a class at a local university. I was as nervous about the situation as any awkward teenager would be, and even more so when I arrived to find that the model was an old man. While the instructor set up the lights, I dug around in my bag of supplies and tried to act nonchalant. The model settled into a pose, and my discomfort vanished as I focused on outlining the sketch. Wrinkles, cellulite, paunchy stomachs, weird patterns of body hair, hunchbacks, and so on all serve to add visual interest in a sketch. Drawing long and often enough exposes a wealth of body types, providing a reminder of the sheer diversity of human biology. On top of this, there was lots of homework, which often meant having to find models during non-class hours.
The following pages provide thousands of examples of life model poses presented by several models representing a wide range of body types. Click the photo to access the type of poses you want to view. For even more pose ideas, see the listings provided at pose ideas for life models. All these web sites provide fine art instructional resources for figurative artists.
Andrew Crayford and his companions can hold their gymnastic poses for up to 45 minutes. Posing in the nude while being sketched by a bunch of strangers for life drawing classes wasn't extreme for model Andrew Crayford. Now he's launched Life Drawing Gymnasia where artists sketch as he and two female companions perform a series of eye-watering poses while completely naked. He is also the front cover of the Irvine Welsh novel A Decent Ride and worked extensively with renowned 3D photographer Scott Eaton and posed for the storyboard of the film Legend of Tarzan. Andrew, who has been a life drawing model for 10 years, has turned the artform on its head — sometimes almost literally — with The Life Drawing Gymnasia. The artists do really get inspired by it.