Walk into the classroom, take out your art supplies and get ready to draw some nude models. For the Plattsburgh State art majors taking Drawing II, this is how students spend their Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Each semester, PSUC hires students to strip down, helping teach students the benefits and importance of drawing live models. 

While it is appreciated that models strip bare, the department also hires semi-nude models, who wear either a light-colored thong or athletic supporter only, or clothed models, who wear a white or skin-colored bikini or underwear. 

The way a student chooses to model will affect how much they get paid. Fully nude models will receive $13 per hour, semi-nude models earn $12 per hour and clothed models earn $11.50 per hour.

For many students, Drawing II is the first experience they have with drawing nude models. 

PSUC junior art student Wally Elder shares her reaction from the first time the nude models were in class. 

“At first, I felt a little intimidated to draw a nude figure, however, because it was a woman and I have a female-presenting body I was more comfortable than I would have been with a male figure first,” Elder said. “Although, a male model did come in later in the semester. I had never seen a male nude in person before, so I was a little nervous until I started drawing.” 

While many students may have felt slightly uncomfortable when they walked into class the first day with the nude models, the atmosphere of the classroom helped to calm student’s nerves. 

According to multiple students, the room is normally quiet with calming music playing in the background, and everyone is focused on their work and getting the proportions of the models correct.  

Nude modeling, because of its nature, can have the question of whether it’s weird to be drawing someone completely naked and whether the fact that the subject is naked all an artist focuses on?’ 

According to “The Naked Truth About Nude Drawing Classes” from Washington City Paper, it’s the minuscule bodily details that artists focus on, not just the bareness of the model. 

“Trying to puzzle out how to depict that oddly shaped shadow under the model’s ankle bone or how to draw that thumb positioned at a strange angle, it’s difficult to view the person in terms of conventional attractiveness,” Stephanie Rudig, the pieces author, wrote.

PSUC junior studio art major Maria Maier believes drawing live models has helped to improve her drawing abilities.

“Drawing nude models has taught me respect for those that have mastered nude live model drawing,” Maier said.  “It’s also taught me how to draw quicker and more accurately.” 

Sometimes in class, a model will move and need to be repositioned. One lesson that needs to be learned before taking a class with nude models present is the subject can’t touch the models. 

According to Art Net News, if the artist wants a nude model to alter their pose it should be described with words, or the photographer or artist can show them by demonstrating with their own body. The boundaries of the models should always be respected.

PSUC studio art junior Renée Bourgeois talks about the challenge of models moving while drawing.

“The models are living, so they naturally shift and move while drawing,” Bourgeois said. “This is difficult when you are trying to make an accurate drawing because one tiny movement can lead to a whole new position.”

Many of the art students at PSUC appreciate the fact they get to experience drawing live nude models during their time studying. Junior studio art major Hunter Celeste describes his experience drawing the models.

“I definitely gained a new perspective on the human body,” Celeste said. “When you study the models, you notice different shape relationships and beauty in things that you just don’t notice normally. If given the opportunity to draw from life, you should always take it. Not only is it the best practice for artistic growth, but you get to really see things as they are. We rush along life without ever taking the time to really appreciate what is right in front of us.”

Students who are interested in becoming a nude model should contact Art Professor Peter Russon by emailing peter.russom@plattsburgh.edu for more information or to get a model information and availability form and waiver form.

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