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Fieldnotes Post #1

abenjamin's picture

Once a week I work at an art school in Philadelphia. I monitor a 3hr long Open Studio Figure Drawing class for Adults. Every week there is a model who poses while the students draw.

3rd session of this class


6 students

male model, looks around room, assessing his options, undresses

(drawing/sketch of model stand with black table/desk sitting on model stand)

The first student that arrived, I asked him his opinion about the high black table/desk on the model stand

I'm struggingl with what my role is in the class. What is my role as a monitor?

I am not the class instructor. When students ask, or talk to me about their art, I am eager to give advice, feedback, encouragement. But I try my best to sit back and not interfere. They signed up for a class with no instructor so I don't try to be an instructor. But its very hard not to teach. I want to teach. I try my best to let them dictate the structure of the class, the poses, the few things that I do have some control over.

Model today asked whether we should keep the black table on the stand, I had already spoken to one student about keeping it as an option/something new, different. I referred the question back to the students. (The table was already on the stand when I arrived that morning.)

10:07 - 10:27    4 5-minute poses

one pose he uses a stick (a small sketch of how he used the stick in his pose)

(Model: fit, male, 5'10", long hair in ponytail)

Model is very conscious of art students. Last 4-minute pose, he turns around with back facing students, hands againgst wall, before he sets his timer, he changes his ponytail to a small bun, no longer covering his upperback and neck.

10:27 - 10:37 break

every twenty minutes of posing/drawing we have a break. (for the model to rest, for students to rest/add to drawings/etc.)

first model to chat with class as a whole during breaks


1st 10 min pose, uses black table

2nd 10 min pose, uses pole (sketch of how he uses pole) really uses props in his modeling

11:12 - 11:32

20 min pose

model asks class before he starts each pose: "20 minutes?" I told him at the start of the class our regular sched of 4 5-min, 2 10-min, 20 min poses. But he still makes sure to announce the length to the class while also providing us with the opportunity to ask for something different. (Similar to how I try to address the class. I always tru my best to invite the studnets to dictate how the class works.)

During the break: 1 student comes up to me (I am sitting behind their desks taking fieldnotes and completing a reading throughout classtime, drawing of room setup incl. model stand and my seat) and asks me if I ever draw during class, and even offers to lend me some of his own materials so that I can draw during class. 

Really made me feel abit guilty about not drawing. How can I be giving advice about something that I'm not totally comfortable in? Model drawing is not my best art skill, and I hardly ever do it anymore (though I've taken many classes in it over the years (high-school and college) and last semester was even a TA for a drawing and painting class which was primarily with a figure.

Why do I feel okay teaching about something that I don't like/do myself? I've taken many classes and been instructed on it many many times. Somehow, I feel as though I know enough and am comfortable enough to teach it, but not comfortable enough to practice it myself (especally in front of these students)

I will go to an open studio session with a model this week at HC so that I can practie and feel more comforatble so that I can draw/sketch etc. in class next week. (I'm embarrassed by my skills in this area of art)

The last time I went to a figure drawing sesson (last sem.) I gave up on pencil/charcoal/pastek abd dud a cikkage with colored construction paper. Shapes and color. It was much more my style. Should I still be keeping up with the basics while also pursuing my own style? For teaching purposes? For myself as an artist?


model asks what ppl want to for the next three 20 minute periods. 

student responses: seated/folded/back/long pose

we all (together) decide on the first 10 min pose with back facing students, move black tabel against back wall of model stand. hands on the table. he asks specifically about his hair to the students. Up, so we can see the neck.

2nd two 20 min poses one long pose seated

The model is extremely aware that he is FOR the students as artists.

Another student comes to chat with me during a break. (confusing change of make-up days). She mentions other art classes she is taking/planning to take. I ask about whther shes considering a figure grawing class with an instructor. She says that she wants to, and now that she's taking this class, she'll be prepared with lots of questions for the instructor next semester.