Behind the scenes: Nude modeling at TSU
By Forrest Murphy—
There’s an opportunity on campus for students looking to step out of their comfort zone and learn about the human figure. Tarleton State University’s nude modeling program, under the direction of Fine Arts Associate Professor Timothy Harding, strives to help students in the advanced drawing class better understand how baring it all has a place in the arts.
“It’s a longstanding, very traditional thing… to draw the human form,” Harding said. “Once you can draw the human form, you can draw anything.”
The intricate process of drawing the human form begins on a more internal level; Tarleton advanced drawing students depict more than just the model’s uncovered figures. The class works in three steps to capture the human body in more ways than one.
“The skeleton is the first thing we draw in that class, starting with the inner structure, and then you talk about musculature and then the actual breathing, living form,” Harding said. “Clothing tends to mask things, and it doesn’t really benefit the student in terms of truly understanding.”
For Harding, a passion of the arts has drawn him to become an integral part of the advanced drawing class and the modeling program that drives the course. It is also what he believes to be the force behind student volunteers’ reason to model.
“A lot of them are genuinely excited about the experience of modeling for a class,” Harding said. “A lot of people are curious about art, what happens perhaps in art studios, what artists do and make, and maybe it’s their way of trying to be a part of that, and it’s a life experience. College is a good opportunity for students to try new things and experiment, and I think, based on conversations I’ve had… that’s how a lot of people approach it.”
For Harding, while it is hard to pinpoint a universal quality within those who volunteer, there are several that are important in becoming a model, none of which are physical appearance.
“I think someone who’s very confident in themselves,” Harding said. “It takes a certain open-mindedness.” However, he added, “through the various people I’ve known that have done modeling, it’s a whole spectrum of people, and it’s hard to say what a specific signifier is of one who is willing to take on such a task.”
Four Tarleton students have volunteered to model for the advanced drawing class for the fall 2015 semester. While it pays $7.25 an hour to pose draped and $10.00 an hour to pose undraped, the reasoning behind signing up goes beyond monetary gain in the eyes of at least one of those models, senior Agricultural Services and Development major Jamee Bell.
“I decided to take a risk,” Bell said. “I don’t think that people appreciate who they are and their bodies as much as we should, so I wanted to contribute to the arts as well as do this for myself. The most important quality is the want to do this for the students.”
For Bell, Tarleton’s modeling program serves as an exciting learning experience for both the models like herself as well as the students composing the art.
“As models… it is our job to learn poses prior to the class to ensure that the students have something new to learn that will enhance their skills and techniques,” Bell said. “Just like any other class, the students pay for this and I take responsibility to learn poses the best that I can and learn to hold them for an extended period of time so that they can get the most out of this experience; and that’s what I hope to gain a knowledge of a variety of poses with the ability to hold them.”
For students at Tarleton looking to pursue a career in fine arts, the advanced drawing class lends an opportunity to learn about the human body along with the art born from it. Undraped modeling plays a key role in that pursuit of knowledge for Bell.
“Without models, the class would stagnate and the students would not get the full experience,” Bell said. “I am excited to see our artists progress over the course of the semester.”