Foto: Eivind Øverås
The first time I was standing in a classroom full of students and had to take off my clothes felt like one of the strangest things I have ever done. Not that I have a problem with being naked, but standing naked in front of dressed people gives a weird feeling. But that is actually my job. Every Monday afternoon I work as a model for drawing classes of the first year Animation students here in Volda. Model for portrait and act drawing.
Every time I tell somebody about my job, the first expression of their faces is a mixture of surprise, fascination and skepticism. I used to be skeptic as well but this job taught me a lot. First and foremost, it taught me how to be courageous just to do something unusual; it gave me the insight that not moving for 90 minutes can cause more pain than anybody would expect; and it showed me how to see myself differently. To see myself differently because I am seen differently.
During ten weeks with each two classes the Animation students are supposed to learn more about human anatomy. That means watching, observing, and staring at models. And staring is one of the hardest things about it. Not only for the one who is being looked at, but even for the ones who have to observe. A friend asked me if I think that it is more awkward for the model or for the artist. I do not know. But what I know now is that this feeling is just human and modeling is not really about that.
The drawing class teacher Lara Zlatar describes it as a non-judging way to look at a person; it is not about valuing the body, about attractiveness or flaws. It is simply about getting to know the human body. The more you look at it, the better you know what to draw. That is as well the way the students characterize it. A way to learn to draw movement, to learn about positions and volumes and how to transform the reality into a 2D picture. A challenging task which you only learn by doing and most of all by drawing the reality, which means in this case drawing one of the two other models or me. The course leader Lara explains it like this: “It is one thing to see Paris on pictures but another one to see it with your own eyes”. Makes sense. And so it comes that people get paid for standing 90 minutes still or for doing croquis (short and simplified sketches of varying poses). An unusual but valuable job.
Now when the course ended, I think I will miss it. I will miss my weekly way to the classroom in the Kaarstadhuset every Monday afternoon, I will miss singing stupid songs in my head just not to fall asleep during those 90 minutes and I will miss to see what the students made out of my pain. But it has one good thing: at least I do not need to feel bad because I did not tell my mom about what I am doing every Monday afternoon.