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Ever wondered what being a life model involves? For some people the idea of life modelling is intriquing, but intimidating. Former Shetland Arts' Life Model Floortje Robertson Matthew demystifies the process in this post.

Taking your clothes off in front of studious strangers on a weekday evening is not everyone’s idea of fun, and although I was often aware of the absurdity of the situation, I found this ultimately a very interesting and absorbing experience.

I was a life model for Shetland Arts’ Life Drawing classes for a year and learned a lot about patience, how to get comfortable and ignore an itch, and how to feel relaxed in my own skin.

In order to prepare for the class I would arrive slightly early and set up the space with a yoga mat (less slippy and cold than the floor when holding poses in bare feet), a stool and chair with draped blankets and pop a heater on. I would then undress and wear a bathrobe whilst waiting for the artists to arrive. Once the class was set up, I would begin with a series of short, 1-2 minute, often quite dynamic, poses - arms aloft or stretched out. Then I would move on to longer 5-10 minute poses before a short break. In the second half I would generally pose for much longer - 20-30 minutes. My mobile phone was invaluable for timing each pose.

I researched poses online and found lots of useful sites with suggestions for life models. During the short poses I would be thinking about the next move, trying to change my stance quite dramatically each time. However, during the longer poses I had lots of time to think and found it quite meditative.

Over time I saw many sketches of my body - except it didn’t feel like my body anymore. Seen from so many angles by so many eyes and rendered in so many media, I found it fascinating to see how the artist approached the shapes, shades and tones in front of them. I don’t draw and yet found it incredibly inspiring to be part of this artistic process.

Could you be our next model?

We're currently looking for a life model for our next round of life drawing classes - if you'd like to be involved contact Cara McDiarmid on cara.mcdiarmid@shetlandarts.org

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