Monday, June 21, 2010

Muse Romance, Part 2

In the first entry on this, I primarily addressed obstacles often faced by the one doing the painting, drawing, or photographing. I didn't intentionally omit the influence of the model. In that regard, I can only speak to my own experiences. I haven't swapped stories with other models, to see how things compare. Admittedly, I'm going to veer off-course here, and out of the realm of strictly romantic relationships. I think it's still relevant enough to run with, though.

The notion of modeling for, or in front of, people that I know from a different context petrifies me. It's been a mental block that I've had from the get-go. One of the first photographers that I worked with insisted that models he hadn't worked with prior bring an escort. It was the only time that I have brought an escort to a shoot. I called upon one of my best friends, who also happens to be a former partner. And I then made him stay tucked away in a back corner out of sight for the duration of the shoot.

I've been able to ease up slightly since then. I've shot self-portraits in the presence of another person once, though only because I knew that he was quite occupied with selling all of the furniture in his house, including the chair that I really wanted to use. I've modeled for exactly one person with whom I was friends prior to shooting. It worked because we both went right into business mode, and stayed in business mode until we finished shooting.

I don't know exactly why modeling for, or around, friends and loved ones is so difficult for me. A big part of it is that I don't want artistic differences creating tension with people in whom I'm emotionally invested. I suspect that there are additional variables playing into it that I'm simply not aware of at this time. Either way, it does cause me to be decidedly biased against modeling for those that I hold near and dear. I do buy into fantasies of the artist/muse storybook romance, but honest evaluation tells me that it's not for me.


  1. I'd love a muse - someone to work with and inspire me to try new things, but I wouldn't want a romance with the muse. I think that would pollute the creative process for me (besides pissing off my wife. ;) ). Seriously, by that I mean, once you start a romantic relationship with someone, your perspective and your feelings about the work you make with that person change and I believe you become less honest about what it good and what isn't.

  2. I think working with friends or loved ones is hard no matter what the context. Toss in artistic expression and nudity, then you dive deep in to personal and intimate territory, where one can be fearful of being judged negatively (no matter how much each cares for the other). Having the "business" context somehow allows us to put these issues of intimacy and judgment away. With those close to us, I think we strive too much for perfection, either as the artist or the muse, this then drains away the artistic freedom. In the "business" context I think we are more accepting of little failures (making my wife look fat in a pose would be very bad, but it would be a simple "oops" and move on with a muse/model). I think also that those close to us are more likely to be brutally honest about our work (artist or model), thus some fear of not measuring up.

  3. I've modeled for my wife and she has taken some of the best shots in my portfolio. I'm hoping to work more with her in the future. She's also been present when I've modeled nude with female models during drawing sessions.
    However, when I was first starting, in college, it did bother me to see classmates drawing me, and it was interesting/somewhat uncomfortable to see a nude painting of me in the student union building and be recognized by it. ;o)