An old man's venture into life modelling

When it came to retirement, I decided that I did not necessarily want to sit around all day and watch television, so I wondered what I could do that would at least occasionally get me out of the house and from under my wife's feet. I signed up with a market research firm to do “secret shopping” and also thought I might try to get some work as a TV extra, but guessed that these opportunities might be few and far between. I then remembered a friend who had said that she belonged to an art class and that on one occasion when they were supposed to have a life model along he had had to cancel on the last minute and that she had been persuaded by her fellow artists to act as the model for that session which she had done.

Initially, when I suggested this, my wife was a little dubious to say the least, but after a while she agreed that I should at least see if there were any classes within the area where I might give it a try.

Despite many phone calls and emails to various groups I seemed to be getting nowhere and was beginning to think that, because of my age and hardly being shaped like a male Adonis, I would never get a booking.

Then one day, there in my In Tray was an email from someone who had seen an advert I had placed on Gumtree some time previously asking if I was available to go to pose at a gallery in Manchester.

Having assured myself that this was a bona fide request I agreed to go to pose a few weeks later and, on the agreed evening, I went along to the gallery.

Needless to say, as it was my first time, I was somewhat nervous. Although it was something I had been wanting to do for a long time, when it came to doing it, would I actually be able to totally strip off in front of a group of people? Would I be able to hold a decent pose for a reasonable length of time? Would I have any adverse reactions to being scrutinised?

Rather than rushing at the last minute I got to the gallery a while before the session was due to start, just to get a feel for the place and chat to the leader of the session and was then shown to a side room where I could take off my outdoor cloths and put on my dressing gown before going back out to the studio. I then had a few minutes to relax before the session.

Unfortunately the attendance was not very good that evening but maybe that also helped as when I was asked to go into my first pose, it seemed the most natural thing to do to strip off my dressing gown and glasses and go into the required pose.

That question answered, my concern about adverse reactions just never occurred despite at one stage having a female artist sitting no more than a few feet away from where I was lying.

The final concern over whether I could hold a pose also turned out not to be a problem either as I managed to hold two 25 minute poses, one sitting, one lying quite easily. I did have a problem with what should have been the final pose - sitting cross-legged on the floor for 40 minutes as after about 25 minutes I got terrible cramp in my left thigh and after a further 5 minutes I just had to give up on it. I was later told by more experienced models that I had done well to hold it for as long as I did as 30 minutes is about as long as they can manage anyway.

To fill in the remaining time they asked me to do a short lying pose.

At the end of the evening they all thanked me for my efforts and were complimentary about my ability to hold poses and also said that, had they not known, they would never have guessed that it was my first session.


My second modelling session was somewhat surreal.

I received an email asking if I was available for a modelling session in a bar in Manchester in March, attached to which was a copy of the flyer that the leaders had put out to advertise the class.

From that it was clear that it was going to be a fairly informal session and that it was aimed at artists of all levels.

I duly arrived at the appointed time and was directed down some fairly dimly lit steps into an even more dimly lit bar and was then shown where I could get out of my street clothes and put on my dressing gown.

When I reappeared ready to start modelling, I found that, apart from one slightly older lady, the rest of the class was made up of mainly young (18 to 20 year old) females, some of whom were sat only a matter of feet from where I was posing.

Despite that, the session seemed to go very well and the leader subsequently wrote me a very appreciative recommendation.

The only downside was that the lighting in the bar was not very good, and also it had a cold stone floor which meant that it was not particularly comfortable to pose on. Fortunately beforehand, I had checked up about the location and had bought myself a yoga mat so I did not actually have to stand/sit/lie directly on the floor.

It also didn't help that only a few days previously I had returned from a holiday in the West Indies and had not yet become re-accustomed to the cold.

Since then I have gone on to model for a number of other groups and individuals.  Some of which I will write about in another article

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