Nora Byrne


Arts, Arabic, Adventures

Just Make It Up... the only advice I ever gave about modeling. Granted, it's not like everyone begged to be told how to do it, but oftentimes when someone discovered that I modeled sans clothing it led to questions. There was a time one of "my artists" (I hope no one is offended by this characterization; I doubt I'll be able to refrain from using it because it's how I've referred to the artists I posed for regularly for months) came up to me and asked how I decided on poses. I could not think of anything to say besides that I just made it up. She looked at me and asked "you really are just naturally good at this, aren't you?" I sputtered, shrugged and stumbled over my words until she interrupted me, saying "just say yes, thank you."

"Yes, thank you." Then I smiled and giggled enough to hopeful distract her from my awkwardness and get her back to thinking I was adorable. But it wasn't entirely true. The time they spent drawing when the next pose was undecided, I was running through ideas in my head. It wasn't always where would I put my foot, place my hand, but more about emoting something.

My real strategy began my first time modeling, when looked down, realized my feet were in third position, and leaned down, placing my hands on my shins. Of course, Phillipe called me out almost immediately: "Oh! Zere is a Degas very much like zat!" Of course there is, Phillipe. I'm copying it. My Bachelors in Art History was finally proving to be useful, if not quite in the way I had imagined. I really didn't develop an analytical take on it. I read a poem written from the perspective of a model once, in the catalog for the 2012 Figure Revealed show at the USM Art Gallery, I had a hard time relating to most of it. The only part I could clearly recognize to was when she mentioned feeling a cold breeze. I have little insight into what makes for a good pose, or how to turn one leg to some angle, or how looking to the side will "give a lift to my breasts." However, I did end up forming a vague strategy on how to pose.

And sometimes I can manage the twist to the body, the outstretched arms. But every time I work for a new drawing group, I will find my feet twisted and my arms stretched to my legs; a dancer caught behind the scenes. I started to think of myself as a Degas who wishes she were a Bernini, though I never limited myself to those artists. I liked to play with Gaugin while lounging on couches, sometimes going back to classicism with a Doryphoros, and flirting with the disadvantaged women of Manet. It was interesting how my modeling style seemed to mirror my perception of myself. Living a fairly mundane life in rural New Hampshire, trying to suck all the beauty out of it, while dreaming of going other places and living other lives. I could go to Costa Rica and teach children English, I could save up money and move to Tokyo for a few months, but the small-world part of me kept me exploring paths running through coniferous woods. In modeling I tended toward the unremarkable yet somewhat odd poses, trying to appear that I just stopped in whatever I was doing, frozen in time, while dreaming of dramatic, theatrical, mythical marbles.