The 2019 Figurative Art Convention and Expo was an amazing experience, and I am so glad that I went. However, the final schedule I got just a few days before I was scheduled to leave threatened the entire trip. I was down for costume modeling for three days, including both open studio sessions. I was going to extraordinary effort and expense to get to this event in Williamsburg, Virginia, driving all the way from Fort Worth, Texas, and that effort just wasn’t worth it to me if I had to remain in a costume the entire time. I was going to be surrounded by some incredible figurative artists for this event, and to not have the opportunity for any of them to draw me as the real me, without any costumes or clothes, was not something I could fathom.
I did reach out to the person coordinating the models and those open studios, and the schedule was changed. I would have to leave a day earlier than planned, but she offered me the chance to model for the first day of Daniel Maidman’s pre-convention workshop. Daniel Maidman was an artist I had followed for almost ten years, so I jumped at the chance to work with him. She also changed one of my open studio nights to nude modeling rather than costumed.
I had everything packed for the trip Thursday morning when I went to work at my regular job. I left work early to model for an afternoon class at the University of Texas at Arlington. When that class ended, I drove straight from there to Little Rock, Arkansas, where I got a room for the night.
I left the hotel in Little Rock at just before six AM and drove through the rest of Arkansas, all of Tennessee, and most of Virginia until I reached Williamsburg. My total miles driven that day was 1,018, which was a personal record for me, especially with no one else traveling with me. That record wouldn’t last long though.
The workshop with Daniel Maidman was a wonderful experience. Not only is he an incredible artist, he is also a genuinely nice guy. There were about fifteen students in the workshop, and I wound up doing no less than five different poses throughout the day. Daniel’s first drawing of me is my favorite. I liked it so much that I wound up buying it after the trip. I also got photos of me with Daniel Maidman and a photo of the entire class that day.
I was fitted with a colonial costume for my second day at FACE and was one of two models at an outdoor painting session just prior to the opening ceremony. Here are a few photos of that outdoor session:
On my third day, I didn’t have any modeling scheduled until the evening studio session, so I drove out to Jamestown and saw the site of the original settlement. There was even an archaeology team out there working while I was there.
I was to model in that costume during the first open studio night. It was as hot in that costume under the studio lights as I had feared. The session lasted five hours, with breaks for the models every 20 minutes and a longer break for dinner about three-fifths of the way through the night. All the models were on the same schedule. There were five of us: a portrait, costumed male and female, and nude male and female. I did a standing pose so that the artists could see the entire costume. I wound up taking the heavy coat off during every break. There were at least 100 people in the studio (which was normally a hotel ballroom), and the energy in the room was almost electric. Here are some photos from that first studio night:
The second studio night was one of the most amazing experiences of my 35 year modeling career. I got to model in my pure state rather than in costume, so the energy I had felt in the room the previous night was just heightened. Joe, the other male model there and the nude male on the first studio night, had taken a seated pose that first session. Many of the artists drawing and painting him had done portraits. I wanted to encourage more figurative works, so I chose a standing pose. Patricia Watwood, an amazing artist from New York, was the faculty person who helped mark and light my pose. She would also act as mentor for the attendees drawing or painting me. I was beyond thrilled when she sat down later in the night and did a quick sketch of me. Here is that sketch:
The studio organizer, at my request, took several photos of me in the pose and texted them to me. Some of these are suitable for posting on Facebook and Instagram, but some are not. Since this is my blog and since I believe in the goodness and purity of the nude human form, I am including everything here, along with some shots of the paintings done of that pose.
That last painting was by San Francisco artist Eva Strauss-Rosen, and she surprised me by offering the painting to me as a gift. She said that she couldn’t get it on the plane while the paint was still wet, so I gladly accepted it. I will be getting it framed soon.
The studio session ended at 11:00 PM. Once I got dressed and got the check for the modeling work I had done throughout the convention, I bid everyone I could find a fond farewell and went back to my hotel to try to get four hours of sleep. I got up and was in my car at 4:04 AM (which was 3:04 AM Central time). I drove a southerly route, through the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana and made a grand total of four stops along the way, arriving home in Fort Worth at 11:47 PM CST. 1,391 miles in 20 hours and 43 minutes. I don’t recommend that level of extreme driving, especially after only four hours of sleep, but I was out of vacation time and needed to be at work the next day.
As stated in past blog posts, I started modeling in November 1984. This trip was my 35th anniversary gift to myself, and it was just an amazing experience. It was so amazing that I just had to share all of these photos of the event with everyone who visits this blog. And in addition to the amazing modeling experience, I was able to sell several copies of Life Models at the convention (at least double what I had expected when I planned the trip).