Monday, October 5, 2009

I Barely Even Notice How Much It Hurts

Fear not, blog-readers, I'm not about to go all emo on you. I'm talking about settling into a pose and holding it... holding it... holding it... you get the idea. If you've never held a pose for, say, 40+ minutes, you might be thinking, "Well golly, Kari, I don't see what the big deal is. You're just sitting there!" While it is certainly true that some poses are easier to hold than others, everything starts hurting if you hold it long enough. What I find fascinating is that, over time, I've begun experiencing this type of pain in a different way than I used to.

But let's back up a bit. Sitting for artists isn't the only reason I have practice holding very still. When I worked in a veterinary clinic, I often had to restrain animals which were, shall we say, rather uncooperative. It generally behooves you to, upon getting a good handle on the patient, not move for the remainder of the time that you're restraining. You do not adjust your grip. You do not shift your weight distribution. If you move, the animal will inevitably begin fighting again. If you hold still, they're much more likely to hold still, too. This isn't a terribly big deal if all that needs to be done is a blood draw. If you're doing something a bit more involved- draining over a liter of fluid out of the abdomen, for example- then you suddenly find yourself with muscled tensed, inevitably in a terribly awkward position, and unable to move. Not surprisingly, it starts hurting pretty quickly. But you absolutely, positively- Do. Not. Move.

Between posing and restraining, I've been pretty nasty to my body. But it's begun developing its own coping mechanisms to put up with all the abuse. I still notice that I'm in pain, but I notice it in a far more detached, almost academic way. Especially if there's music or conversation to keep it out of my central awareness, it really isn't too bothersome. It is only once I move that I realize how badly it hurt. There have been many times where, upon attempting to move a leg or arm, I realize that I can't. I have to reposition it by moving the rest of my body, and then gradually begin working movement back into that limb. It's at this point that the full sensation hits me. And this time around, it's not in that froofy, detached sense.

But I keep on coming back for more. I love working with non-photographic artists. Coming from a background of figure drawing, I want to be able to grant others the ability to work without frequent interruption. Especially when working for private artists, I shrug off using a timer, instead opting to hold the pose until they're done or I simply cannot hold it any longer. The longest I've gone in a single stint was in the ballpark of 70 minutes. It might not be the most glorious, rockstar-esque aspect of modeling, but sitting for artists is most certainly one of my favorites.


  1. How true this is. As models we often beat up on our bodies in the name of art. Muscle spasms, knots, cramps.. all part of job. Like you, I can usually detach myself from it, but eventually it all comes home. Over the years this part time job of mine has kept my massage therapist busy.

    I usually try to spend my time in some sort of meditation while my conscious self pays attention to the technical side of the pose.. making sure my muscles don't relax, shoulders drop, or any one of the other ways a body tries to make itself more comfortable.

    My worst body ache happened after a 90 minute reclining pose. One of my legs had fallen asleep without me noticing it. I stood up after the pose and collapsed, my leg folding under me like it was made of rubber. The artists all looked horrified unsure of how to help the naked guy on the floor. Eventually someone tossed me my robe and I was able to rub circulation back into my leg.

    But we keep coming back for more don't we? For over 30 years now, I've loved being part of the creative process. If I'm in a class of students, modeling for an open studio, or posing for a working artist, it's always an exciting time.


  2. So many people don't seem to realize that staying in one place can take more effort than running all over the place. My respect goes out to you!