I've talked about the areas in which I model before, cushions, tables, chairs, but usually from a visual, artistic standpoint. One thing that has never ceased to amaze me is the length that artists will go to to organize interesting compositions without sacrificing the comfort of the model. One class is run by an experienced artist who knew just where to put the pillows, where to prop me up so I was basically draped on strategically placed pillows. She was able to set me up in a amazingly dramatic position I could sit for over half an hour. The exciting thing is that the pose is only a small part of what goes into making a composition.
I am truly impressed by the lengths artists go to find the perfect angle. Ladders, sitting on the floor, whatever it takes to get the best angle of the hip, to see the twist of the body better. Light stands get in the way, to say nothing of heaters. Even in casual drawing sessions, a lot of time has to be taken to set up the area.
This makes it that much more magical when something totally unexpected happens and changes the composition entirely. The best example of this I have happened within the last 20 minutes a three-hour pose. The drawing group started mid-morning, but by the end the sun had risen far enough to shine through the scarlet stained glass window on the side of the room. It sent a bright beam of warm light across my torso and artists all around started exclaiming, some painting furiously to put the color in at the last minute. I love how this exemplifies what makes art wonderful. The most beautiful pose can be made better by just a shift in natural light, an uncontrollable change in the composition that artists struggle to capture.
Some artists instead choose to focus on those experiences as ephemeral. I wrote my Bachelor's thesis (I.S.) on the art of Andy Goldsworthy, among others, who is a great example of embracing the uncertain qualities in art. Indeed, he tends toward artistic endeavors that emphasize the inherent fragility of attempts to order the world. It really appealed to me when writing my thesis, but there is something really exciting about discovering the same in figure work. In the controlled realm of figure drawing unexpected light is often a complication instead of something to be sought. There is an element of exclusivity to those moments; they don't happen often, and if the artists fail to capture the unexpected no one but the artist and model will know (unless the model writes a effusive blog post about it). Instead of an artistic experience the sudden change of light will be a shared experience of wonder at the beauty of sun and glass.
The best part is the two aren't that different.