A Writer who Models for Art

I have been a model for college art classes and drawing and painting sessions at local art centers for over 30 years.  With very few exceptions, all of these are held in closed studios with access limited only to those who are either registered for the class or, if it’s for a drop in session at an art center, those who have paid for that time.

A new art group recently started holding drawing sessions in the Riverside Arts district of Fort Worth.  Their aim is to highlight several of the studios in that area, so their figure drawing sessions are held at those studios on a rotating basis.  Almost all of these places are on Race Street.  The local ice cream parlor, the privately owned Gypsy Scoops, expressed an interest in hosting a figure drawing session.  I was lucky enough to be the model for this session.  At 8:00 PM, right when the ice cream parlor closed to the public, I took a one hour pose for the sixteen artists who had gathered.  After the pose, I got dressed, and a bunch of us ate ice cream.

This week, that group held a life drawing session on a slow Monday night in a local bar called Shipping and Receiving.  I was the model for this as well, although I suspect I may have been the only model on their roster willing to pose nude in the middle of a bar open to the public.  The session was a success, although it was not as well attended as the ice cream parlor one.

SandR

I am enjoying these de-contextualized figure drawing sessions, taking the practice out of the studios and into new and unique places.  The session in the bar, with people coming in and out, a few of them drawing but most not, inspired me greatly as I begin to work on the sequel to The “Volunteer”. Like Dani during her nudity project, I was on display to any and everyone who happened to enter the building that night.  What made me even more on display was that I couldn’t move; I had to hold the pose even when a pair of giggling ladies came into the bar, ordered drinks, and went out to smoke on the patio.

The experience gave me just a little more insight into how Dani would have felt having to be naked on campus in The “Volunteer”.  The good news is that the bar session was a success and that another one is being planned for mid-September.

Olympic Gymnastics

I have found myself enraptured by the US women’s gymnastics team, which has just been dominating the Olympics.  Simone Biles is a force of nature, doing things on the floor exercise that I have never seen.  And I have a soft spot for Aly Raisman, both because she lost out on a medal in the 2012 Olympic individual all around because of a tie breaker rule and because she posed nude for ESPN Magazine‘s 2015 Body Issue.  Chapter One of The “Volunteer” makes reference of ESPN’s Body Issue, but the magazine shown to Dani in the book is the 2014 edition.

Here is a video Aly did during that shoot…

Dr. Slater’s Examples

In Chapter One of my novel The “Volunteer”, Dr. Lorraine Slater gives Danielle several examples of casual nudity in popular culture in her pitch for her sociology project.  While The “Volunteer” is fiction, the things cited by Dr. Slater are real.

Volunteer book promo

Of course, in the novel, it all starts with Andrew Martinez, who has his own Wikipedia page here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Martinez

Brown University does host a Nudity Week, usually in late September or early October: http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/19624/

ESPN Magazine does publish an annual body issue which has its own website here: http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/page/body/espn-magazine-body-issue

The Naked and Afraid TV show has been very successful on the Discovery Channel: http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/naked-and-afraid/

Dating Naked is still airing on VH1: http://www.vh1.com/shows/dating-naked

And Buying Naked aired on TLC Network: http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/buying-naked/

Including such real world examples in Dr. Slater’s justification of her sociology experiment firmly sets the novel in today’s world and should make for a more enjoyable reading experience.  The “Volunteer” is available in both paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon and other retailers: https://www.amazon.com/Volunteer-D-Jonathan-ebook/dp/B01HAM329Q/

Naked Protests

The Republican National Convention is underway in Cleveland.  In this year in which it seems that the Republicans and Democrats have both nominated the worst candidates they could have possibly chosen, protests seem inevitable.  This week’s GOP Convention was kicked off with photographer Spencer Tunick’s latest project, 100 naked women posing just across the river from the arena where the convention is being held.  Esquire has a piece on it here, but be aware that the photos with the article are not safe for work:  http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/a46763/republican-national-convention-nude-women/

I first heard of Spencer Tunick, who has become known for shooting large groups of nude people in very public places, while watching a television show called Real Sex on HBO in the fall of 1993.  In that show, he was merely shooting two or three nude models at a time in various locations in New York City.  I was immediately intrigued.  I had already been modeling nude for art classes for a few years at that point, and I couldn’t help but imagine myself as one of the nude models out on the city streets.  (What really vexed me is that I had just moved back to Texas from New York City, where I could have easily signed up to model, the spring before that show aired.)  That idea of modeling nude in public stayed with me long enough to coalesce into the story told in The “Volunteer”.

The striking thing about Spencer Tunick’s photos, not just of the 100 women this week but all of his past work, is how similar we all are under our clothes.  When naked, we are not CEOs, doctors, lawyers, politicians, or fast food workers; we are just human beings.

Amazon Reviews

The “Volunteer” has only been available for just a few days, but it already has a couple of Amazon reviews, including a five star one that was just posted this morning. Reader K.C. Wilder wrote:

While the expectation is that this kind of story would devolve into a male voyeur fantasy of the submissive naked woman, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Dani’s experience focused more on portraying nudity and nudism in a positive light, and it became less about “look at that naked woman” and more about “wouldn’t it be fun to be naked all the time”. I thought it was very enjoyable, and also got my pulse racing.

Thank you K.C.!

Vacation

My family and I have just returned to Texas from what was, for us, an epic vacation to Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park, and points in between.  After visiting both Helena and Missoula, I can say that I love western Montana.  Here’s a photo of my son taken on Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

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In literary news, The “Volunteer” is now fully available on Kindle, and it is now visible on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30799836-the-volunteer.  Please feel free to post reviews there or on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Volunteer-Novel-D-H-Jonathan/dp/1534635246).