Nora Byrne
mia.jpg

Words

Arts, Arabic, Adventures

The doughnuts were bittersweet

Here it is. One of my favorite places in the world. 

Where I've spent many a naked hour....

This is the studio of one Bruce King, who hosts a drawing group that has existed for years to encourage DeWitt Hardy to share his extensive knowledge of watercolor, and for fantastic artists to engage in parallel play. The group has multiplied, moved and branched off from its beginnings, but as of 2016 artists meet twice a week to draw, paint or sculpt the figure. The artists that attend are welcoming, talented, and usually bring snacks

Before I moved to Los Angeles I was at King's, eyeing the cinnamon rolls and explaining that I would look for modeling opportunities in the big city. That moment Hardy looked at me and said something to the effect of "but you're too smart to do this forever, right?"

Of course my first reaction was "you don't know me, I'm going to be a professional model in San Francisco, because they exist there." But of course, he knew me a little. He knew enough to make a highly educated guess as to my temperament and character, and that I wasn't suited to work that, however enjoyable, didn't challenge me.

dewitt hardy

Friday morning was my last modeling session (save for when I visit and force everyone to rearrange their schedules). It's been four years, almost to the day, that I started modeling, and it's the only job I've held onto for an extended period of time. One of the perks of modeling is access to a wealth of experience so far outside my own, and a constant source of advice and encouragement from some of the best people I've met. I attribute much of my perseverance and growth in the past few years to older, wiser folks refusing to let me sell myself short. DeWitt saw I needed more from my work I before I had the energy to confront that idea, but his comment inspired me to begin flirting with ambition.

It's no secret I struggle putting down roots. I've wandered around the US for years, my commitment to road trips far outweighing my commitment to savings, leases, careers. This makes me all the more amazed that I've managed to stay dedicated and passionate about modeling. A large part of the appeal is the flexibility of the schedule, but I know it was frustrating for artists to have me running west or south whenever I hit the six-month wanderlust. Their patience and kindness remains a huge part of why this work has been so rewarding for me.

I managed to stumble upon one of the most wonderful subdivisions of the art world, and it has informed my perspective on art and humanity in a way that inspires me to make my work more impactful, more significant, and more worthy of my time. Paradoxically, I have to leave to gain the perspective and skills that will allow me to do this but I won't forget the encouragement I found in these communities. I can only dream of meeting other groups of people so supportive of each other, so dedicated to positivity, community and creativity. They are the best of us, and legitimize my efforts in the art world as nothing else could. I hope to focus my studies on fostering artist communities and supporting artists as individuals. I intend to use this blog as a way to reflect on what I learn in the next year and how it can be applied to this aim. 

Dream Image by Lou Kohl Morgan, another artist I met modeling I am infinitely better for having known. 

Dream Image by Lou Kohl Morgan, another artist I met modeling I am infinitely better for having known. 

I know many of the people reading this are those that I refer to as "my artists," one other example of their support. I would like to thank every artist I've had the pleasure of working with for being part of a hugely significant portion of my life. I understand I just spent approximately 500 words trying to, but I can't express how influential this community has been for me or how much I appreciate it.

Please check out these shows if you're curious about any of the artists I've worked for, and what great things they're making:

Paul Bonneau in the Gallery at the Grand - Kennebunkport, ME

Tim Wilson at Corey Daniels Gallery - Wells, ME

A group show of figure drawing at Village Arts Gallery - Kittery, ME

Kate Doyle at 3s Artspace - Portsmouth, NH

An upcoming show of Russel Whitten's work at River Tree Arts - Kennebunk, ME

Brad Maushart, always on display at his fantastic F8 Gallery - Kennebunkport, ME

Daphne Pulsifer, always on display at the Edison Studio - Monhegan Island, ME

In the interest of time and space, you'll also find "my artists" at the Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk. Always look at the Barn Gallery, where members of the Ogunquit Art Association show work, many of whom I've modeled for for years. There are a couple paintings of me current on display currently, definitely worth the trip to see (there's parking and a sneaky shortcut to avoid Route 1 in Ogunquit as well). The George Marshall Store Gallery in York frequently shows artists who have made my time on the Seacoast so wonderful, and the Kittery Art Association hosts a drawing group and occasionally shows work by non-member artists.

Done with shameless promotion, but only temporarily. If I've missed anything please comment or let me know, and I'll update!