Nora Byrne
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Words

Arts, Arabic, Adventures

In Which Nora is Out of Practice

Two days ago I finally had the chance to model for the very first time in Los Angeles. A number of private artists were reconvening for a drawing group that had been on hiatus for a few months held at Koplin del Rio Gallery in Culver City. I had been in touch with the manager of the gallery since January, when Simon and Kate were sending my name to people who might need models. I visited the gallery when I got to LA, during a really amazing show that featured many local artists with a huge variety of work. The gallery looks amazing now as well - two solo shows featuring one living artist from North Carolina and a series of older works by Robert Bero, who worked in upstate New York. Modeling with his prints all around made me incredibly homesick.

I was nervous to model again. It had been two and half months, I'd put on a couple pounds since moving, and no matter how many times I repeated "you're just Rubenesque now," it wasn't helping that much. While I had stubbornly insisted that it wasn't just the fact that I was super-skinny making me a popular model in New Hampshire, I never believed it fully. In LA I would have to discover if there was anything more to my modeling than a body that showed anatomy well.

On the bus ride to Culver City I tried to think of all the Rubens nudes that I knew, but could only remember one. By the time I was on the stand, surrounded by artists ready with their pencils and paintbrushes, I still had no idea what I was going to do. All I could do was laugh at myself and think "just make it up."I was nervous to model again. It had been two and half months, I'd put on a couple pounds since moving, and no matter how many times I repeated "you're just Rubenesque now," it wasn't helping that much. While I had stubbornly insisted that it wasn't just the fact that I was super-skinny making me a popular model in New Hampshire, I never believed it fully. In LA I would have to discover if there was anything more to my modeling than a body that showed anatomy well.

And it was alright. My body was not prepared to model again, especially after a day standing behind a cash register in shoes I bought for ten dollars at H&M, but it managed. The short poses were fun, and I began to realize they are my strong suit. I get bored with poses easily and you can do much more interesting things when you only have to hold a pose for a minute.

Then came the long pose - an hour and half with breaks. I knew standing was a bad idea, so I tried to take an interesting sitting pose. Unfortunately I was a little rusty, and I broke one of my only modeling rules - do not support yourself with your arms in a long pose. I figured I was sitting up straight enough to not need support, and ten minutes in realized that, as I leaned my head back to give them some neck my body would move back too. It was either support with my arm or abs. I tried both, and I think it was the most painful long pose I've ever done.

But I held it. And emerged more confident it was not just the skinniness that made me a good model. Yes, it probably made me a better model, for the artists and for myself. The artists were able to learn how flesh showed over bone, see muscles working. I was running every day, and my body was stronger, able to hold more interesting poses. However, I now am sure there is more to it than looking good. In many ways this blog serves to legitimize that idea, to give the model an identity beyond the object, and to prove to myself and others that figure art allows the movement and often the spirit of a model to take precedence over her physical appearance.Then came the long pose - an hour and half with breaks. I knew standing was a bad idea, so I tried to take an interesting sitting pose. Unfortunately I was a little rusty, and I broke one of my only modeling rules - do not support yourself with your arms in a long pose. I figured I was sitting up straight enough to not need support, and ten minutes in realized that, as I leaned my head back to give them some neck my body would move back too. It was either support with my arm or abs. I tried both, and I think it was the most painful long pose I've ever done.