I've worked with one model this summer. Here she is:
Working with models continues to be a profound source of joy to me. This model and I had the best day. She danced her way through the sessions, literally, her body swaying with obvious delight and grace from pose to pose. In between sessions, we made music: me playing Sade's "Sweetest Taboo" on the guitar while she sang gorgeously. And we ate. For me, the main joy was again having the incomparable blessing of simply being with, gazing on, and making art of a fellow human who has let light shine on her skin.
I have had a lot of inner drama around my work with models though, too. There are of course many people that I would love to invite to work with me, and in the past I have asked a lot of people (many of whom said yes). These days I am committed to inviting fewer. I have made one firm inner commitment: to really only work with people who have a clear love and understanding of this form of art and the work entailed in it. I have worked with models in the past who are interested in modeling in a vague way and certainly interested in the cash I pay them but not necessarily intrinsically interested in figurative art. What happens in those circumstances is that you can get in countless muddles over expectations, not to mention you never really feel like the model is really necessarily into it. This model that I worked with the other day is the rare perfect subject. She was not only OK with getting naked, she instinctively fell into a happy reverie under the gaze of me and my camera (or at least so it appeared). The best evidence is how the day worked to make us, her and me, into better friends. I liked her before, but now I cherish her and her friendship. We are good buddies (although, alas, she has moved away).
The model below is another favorite--one I've now painted many times. I have worked on poses like the one below a number of times with frustration; this is my best effort. I keep coming back to this model, not only for her beautiful feminine back line but her fascinating face and lovely skin. The model was no natural like the one above, but still she had that basic engagement with the work and with this art form. For her, interest in modeling has always seemed to me to arise from a fascination with the processes of art-making. I think she also likes the process of modeling itself: of feeling beautiful under the artist's gaze.
I so hope that models who work with me feel beautiful, or more beautiful, by virtue of the work. I hope in fact that they have a tiny inkling of the beauty I see before me when they consent to come to the studio and reveal themselves for my artist's gaze. Their sharing is such my privilege. I am so honored by it--to the point of being rendered speechless.