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Interview with Marie Gauthier about her special career

by Ann MacNiven

Marie Gauthier is a bright, well-spoken, well-traveled, young woman with an infectious smile. She takes a great deal of enjoyment from meeting new people and experiencing new things. Marie is an artist and a life-drawing model.

Life-drawing is a very important part of the study and practice of art. Life-drawing requires the presence of a live model—a real person, posing for the painter. These models may be nude, semi-draped (with some fabric on) or fully-draped (with clothes on). She also sits for portraits.

Marie very much enjoys her career as a life-drawing model.

Ann MacNevin: How did you get started as a life-drawing model?

Marie Gauthier: It all started when I replaced someone. I was in a life-drawing class as a student. One day the regular model was not available. Everyone was very disappointed. I then decided to offer myself as the model for that day. I had been exposed to life-drawing. It was familiar territory and I could already appreciate the needs of the artists in relation to the model.

AM: How did it become a career?

MG: After the preliminary network was established with workshops, to begin the process of turning modeling into a career, I became more willing to experiment with different types of poses. I was willing to deepen my knowledge of this type of career and to take on the challenges and the requirements of workshops. For instance, some need 3 or 5 minute rapid poses, and others might need long poses of up to 3 or 4 hours. During one session I spent 9 hours, over two days, in the same pose. Yes, there are breaks, but following the breaks the model must assume exactly the same pose. This takes a great deal of mental preparation and discipline to do it successfully. This is one aspect as to the length and variety of poses expected.

AM: Are there differences in your approach when working with professional artists as opposed to sitting for students in workshops?

MG: Yes. Another aspect of this career is to know with whom I will be dealing and adjusting to the needs of that person, group or professional. When dealing with professional painters I know that they usually want something in particular—a specific pose. In workshops with professionals and students, the model has more discretion over the types of poses but not the length of time a pose is held. For directed workshops, with students being directed by a teacher, one must know, “Are they beginners?” If so, I keep it to a simple pose. More advanced student want to be challenged. At this point the teacher might ask for something specific, like a play of light and shadow. To achieve this effect I sometimes use fabric to create negative space. The presence of the model is important because certain painters prefer to capture and paint the energy and attitude of the model.

AM: What do you like about the career of life-drawing model?

MG: There are a lot of things that I like about being a life-drawing model. I draw myself, so I know how important it is to have access to life-drawing models and what that brings too the learning process.

I like it because it makes me “stop.” It gives me quiet time. It’s almost like meditating. I like the atmosphere of the workshops where everyone is so focused on what they are doing. It gets very quiet and it is easy to treat this time as a meditation. I like the sounds of the charcoal on the paper and of pages turning. I enjoy seeing the products of individuals’ perceptions. It’s like a gift of the variety of the talent and intensity of each painter.

I like to see the pride and enthusiasm of the beginner, who after several weekly sessions, sees a finished drawing. I share in the process and also in their true sense of accomplishment.

I like it as a career because it offers a different perspective on the human body. There is no right or wrong. Every body type is interesting. Every body qualifies. Any aspect of the body, even flaws, could be an inspiration to the person doing the drawing.

It is very important to me to have a relaxed demeanor even in a demanding pose. I love the challenge of staying “alive” in the pose.

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