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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Life drawing models bare all

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Students in life drawing courses can draw inspiration from more than their imagination — they hire nude models.
Nude modeling has been practiced for centuries, and Texas A&M offers these classes to provide students with an alternative learning experience.
Sam Woodfin, life drawing professor, has studied figure drawing for a decade. Woodfin said the reason behind the model being nude versus clothed lies in the fact that much of human emotion is conveyed throughout the whole body and not just the face.
“The purpose of the model being nude is not to look at them naked,” Woodfin said. “It’s so that you can understand what the anatomy is doing — conducting force up and down the bones, affecting the posture of the body.”
Woodfin said nudity has become sexualized only in the last couple centuries.
“In fact in the Renaissance, the early Renaissance, the study of the body was the standard way to understand what it is to depict the person because you want your art to be recognizable,” Woodfin said. “To do this, you have to understand what’s happening under the clothes.”
Woodfin said sketching nude models forces the artist to be incredibly detailed rather than allowing clothing to mask the specifics of the human body.
“It’s the best way that I know of to train somebody how to draw life and to actually just do it,” Woodfin said.
Nicole Jenny, a nude model since the age of 19, is now 31 and poses for life drawing classes at A&M.
“I understand that people don’t understand it,” Jenny said. “I know they can have reservations, but it’s very professional.”
Woodfin said ensuring that his students understand the rules of how to behave in the presence of a nude model is incredibly important to him.
“They’re going to be very professional, kind, no personal comments at all, no photography whatsoever,” Woodfin said. “I’ve never ever been in any class, whether I was a student or a teacher, where anybody’s had a transgression in anyway of that sort.”
Jenny has modeled for a variety of classes with all ranges of gender composition.
“I like male and female because they can talk to each other and share their thoughts,” Jenny said. “I don’t really get embarrassed or ashamed around anybody. They just play their music and do their thing. I think I have an intuition if someone’s in it for the wrong reasons, and that really hasn’t happened.”
Andrew Glenn, psychology junior, took the class last semester and said having a model that is comfortable with himself or herself helps the artists focus on their project rather than the nudity.
“The models were pretty comfortable and they weren’t up there being insecure or really awkward,” Glenn said. “It’s cool to have someone competent up there so we could really focus on our drawings.”
Jenny gets the opportunity to view the students’ rendering of her. She said it’s been a great experience for her self-esteem.
“It really has helped my confidence,” Jenny said. “I usually walk around and check out [the paintings], see which ones I like. Most people get a good liking of me, especially the people who are really experienced.”
Woodfin said nudity is natural and should be treated as such.
“We’re all born naked — it’s very natural,” Woodfin said. “We are in a very professional setting and we’re trying to understand how the body works. That is the purpose of what we’re doing.”
Graphic by William Guerra

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