What I Learned in Art School

Curves. Oh how I love curves.

Reese Real on a couch

Love that spunky personality!

My love affair with the female form in all its various shapes and sizes was solidified back in art school. Four hours a day I’d sit in a figure drawing class drawing the nude figure.

Now, I know that not many people have ever stepped foot in a figure drawing class before. At many community colleges our outdated, puritanical views of the body tend to lead instructors to keep the models clothed. It’s not until you get into some kind of serious art program that we disrobe both the subject along with our own inhibitions as artists. At that moment, the fantasy about drawing naked women comes crashing into the reality of the human form.

Reese Real beauty shot

Towards the end of our first shoot I went for a much different look and ended up loving it.

Men and women of all ages, shapes, and sizes, sign up to model. Freed of the confines of societal expectations, they put everything on the line as they hold pose after pose, upwards of thirty pairs of eyes not just looking at them, but analyzing them, dissecting them, then drawing every detail, every wrinkle, every fold, and every beauty mark or blemish.

Can you imagine?

There is an understanding in those classes of the gift these people have bestowed upon the artists. It is made expressly clear that even the slightest hint of mockery or disrespect of those people will be met with the harshest of punishments. Models are to be respected, even cherished for the gift of surrendering their modesty for the sake of art.

In that kind of atmosphere you cannot succumb to the notion of ideal beauty. I’m not sure how anyone could draw or sculpt, for hours on end, something that they could find no beauty in. It was in that crucible that I learned to appreciate the way light wraps around a full figure, how wrinkles carry history with them, and how a waifish form can create the most compelling of angles.

While I did not go on to be the illustrator I’d hoped to be, I have carried with me the valuable lessons that those experiences taught. The models that I work with receive the same respect and appreciation that any model in a figure drawing, anatomy, or sculpting class received during my time in art school. And just as I sought out the beauty in the form back then, I keep that same curiosity and wonder with me still.

Sadly, too many people shooting today do not have the same experiences to draw from. With a modest sum of money, anyone can claim to be an artist and start booking shoots. Those from art school backgrounds often lament how too few of them know artistic rules, technical aspects of gear, or even the history of what came before them. For me, what I most lament is the loss of those experiences of learning to love, appreciate, and respect the art that you’re creating, as well as those who sacrifice to help you make it.

So to those that have graced me with their time and talents, who have surrendered their modesty for the sake of art, beauty, and a grander vision, I say thank you.

Pinup Librarian

What we really wanted to do was shoot in an actual library, but somehow I don't think any libraries around here would let me set up all of my lights for a pinup shoot.

I’ve got a lot more shots from this shoot but we’re looking for a magazine to get them published in. Follow on instagram and facebook to keep up to date with when that’s happening. Also, the lovely Reese and I already have something much sexier in the works in case you’re hoping to see more.

Model: Reese Real