I don't mean this question to be existential although I could write a whole different post on that topic. The answer to this question is in response to several the question I get asked all the time by friends, acquaintances, job applications, and online forms. I don't fit neatly into a box. For years I did and it drove me crazy. Literally.
And the answer is complicated. So let me clear it up.
Before I begin, I must add a disclaimer. All of this is subject to change. At any moment. That's the other thing I learned when I was more crazy than I am now. Nothing is permanent. If something isn't working for me, I have the power to change it. I can quit doing something I'm currently doing without the fear of being judged or not living up to someone's expectations, mostly my own. I am the only judge of how my life is working and the choices I am making.
Yep, still doing that. Yep, still loving it. This year my career as a life model ramped up a notch when I contacted local independent and state schools in the area around me with Sixth Formers. For non-UK readers, that's people who are getting ready to leave mandated schooling at age 18ish. The art schools had changed their portfolio requirements for applicants and included life drawing as a required element. Before now, most schools had avoided having life drawing in the school because of the, well, "naked person in school" thing. I know some parents (although I must confess it is not many) who are horrified at the thought of their precious young girl (and yes, it is only the parents of girls) seeing a naked person. Seriously.
Thankfully, most of the schools I contacted recognised that it was time to make a change and I have been working with more than 10 schools since September. It is a very rewarding experience. Some of the schools are single gender and some are mixed gender. I tend to model fortnightly (every two weeks) for a couple hours after school. The students tend to be very nervous the first time but I do my very best to assure them they shouldn't be nervous. They aren't the ones having to stand naked in front of anyone. This makes them laugh. Within a nanosecond of me dropping my dressing gown, they come to the same realisation that all individuals who have done life drawing do and that is that a life model is merely a bowl of fruit. A most beautiful bowl of fruit but a bowl of fruit nonetheless. The human body is made up of lines and shapes and forms and curves (in my case, lots of curves).
The most rewarding part of my job is witnessing artists emerge from the quivering fear of these students. They experiment with colour and line and tone. They take risks with paint and pastels and pen. They stop being so critical of and precious with their work. They grow in confidence. It is truly a magical experience.
Many of them have applied to art schools around the UK. I am in countless portfolios and there is a part of me wondering if the people who review these portfolios have noticed that my form appears in so many of them. I do after all have a very distinct figure. I've had people in art classes tell me they've seen a painting of me at a gallery or a show despite the fact that my name is rarely mentioned.
I am hopeful that my encounter with these individuals does a little bit in helping them get into and be succesful at art school. That's their dream and it makes me so happy that I'm doing a tiny bit to help that dream come true.
To see some of the work that has been done of me check out my artistic services Facebook page, Larger Than Life Modelling . If you'd like to book me, you can contact me through that page.
In January I started up my very own life drawing class. I was involved in a life drawing class held in Sunninghill for a bit and I model occassional for a class at The Firestation Arts Centre in Windsor. But the Sunninghill class folded after the tutor could no longer continue and the class in Windsor is held at the very awkward time of Sunday evenings 5:30-7:30. Not many people want to venture out on a Sunday at tea time so class attendance tends to be low.
I have read numerous articles about how life drawing has been shown to be uber effective at combating the effects of dementia, as well as a very useful tool for combating stress, depression, anxiety and encouraging mindfulness. So I wanted the class to be as accessbile as possible to as many people as possible, regardless of age or ability.
Sure enough, the people coming to the class go up to age 80+. They've told me they have the best night's sleep after doing life drawing for just 2 hours. Some of them have never drawn before. Others drew when they were young but life got in the way.
It is currently held at various venues around Old Windsor, where I live. Each week I have a different art tutor drawn from my experiences as a life model. Some weeks are untutored. Each week also has a different model, male, female, young, old, big, small, every colour of the rainbow. Occassionally, I even model. The classes are held most Wednesday evenings, 7:30-9:30 pm. You can get more information about who the tutor and/or model is, as well as location details on the Facebook page Art Break. If you'd like to tutor, model, and/or attend, please get in contact via the Facebook page. There's no need to book. Just come along and enjoy the great soundtrack!
In May I plan on holding a life modelling class for individuals who would like to become a life model or existing life models who would like to enhance their current skills.
In June I hope to host a half day workshop for a large number of artists to have access to a large number of models all at once.
Stay tuned to the Facebook page for all the details.
Neal's Yard Remedies Consultant
In July I became an independent seller of Neal's Yard Remedies products. Initially I did this because I am wholly committed to doing my bit to do no more harm to the planet and make responsible choices about what I put in and on my body and the bodies of my family.
My children have hit puberty and with that has come the acne. I didn't want to be handing them skincare products full of microbeads and toxic chemicals. I started educating myself about the effects my shampoo and conditioner was having on the water supply. I learned about the dangers associated with cooking with certain oils. I became obssessed with the destruction of the nutrients in our soil and ultimately in our food through the destruction of our ecosystems through the use of pesticides and insecticides. My heart is breaking over the plight of the bees. I have gained an intense appreciation in the value of using natural and organic plant based products to provide a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle for my family and my world.
Then I decided to tell everyone I knew about it. Relentlessly. I hope those of you who have bought the Neal's Yard Rememdies products from me have realised the benefits. Once you try our products you never leave. You can currently get 20% off all natural health remedies. Visit my website to purchase.
If you haven't yet had a chance to talk to me about what you can do to make your lifestyle healthier, more sustainable and natural, please do get in touch by leaving a comment here or sending me a message on Facebook. I would be honoured to host a Wellness Seminar for you and any number of your friends. There is absolutely no pressure to buy. I am merely there to inform. And there are exclusive free gifts available if you do host a seminar.
If you think you might be interested in joining my little revolution, there is currently an amazing deal on becoming a consultant. There is no pressure to sell. At all. Ever. There is lots of motivation to spread the word about how what we eat, drink, and put on our face/bodies and the planet can change to encourage health and wellbeing. Get in touch with me here or my Facebook page.
Wild Side Social Media
And I have the little sideline (ahem) of running a small social media consulting company. The company helps small businesses harness the power of social media to grow their business. If you are the owner of a small business and find the world of websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, et al baffling, do get in touch. I can make it easy. Well, easier.
So tell me, should I be checking the full time, part time, or unemployed box?