'It's for art': Kenai life drawing workshop seeks models, artists

Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011

The new workshop in the Old Town Kenai pottery studio and gallery space is seeking artists who want to draw from life and models who are willing to take their clothes off.

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Photo By M. Scott Moon
Photo By M. Scott Moon
Zirrus VanDevere, Julia Greenway, Savanna Schoessler and Will Harper work on sketches as Brett Vadla models during a life drawing workshop at the Kenai Fine Arts Center last week. The two-hour session was an opportunity for artists to hone their skills working with the human form.

"We feel like there's a need for it because the college only offers it once every year or two and people in art classes have expressed a want to do more," said Savanna Schoessler, a 19-year-old student at Kenai Peninsula College who helped organize the sessions with local artist Will Harper.

She roped in her friend Brett Vadla to model for the first session a week ago Thursday.

Vadla, 18, a graduate of Soldotna High School, is now a clinical psychology student at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He was in town last week for spring break.

"Brett and I are just friends and I was telling him about our art class and jokingly I was like, 'You want to be our model?'" Schoessler said. And he was like, 'Yeah, sit around naked for money? Yes.'

"So I mean, win-win. I really wasn't expecting to get someone," she said.

Thursday's session was a first for the life drawing workshop, for Vadla as a figure model and for Schoessler as an artist using a human figure to draw life.

"I've got some looks like, 'Really, you're going to draw naked people?'" she said. "It's for the arts. I don't think it'd be a big deal anywhere else. Soldotna is pretty conservative so maybe we'll inspire people to come and take some life drawing classes."

Julia Greenway was inspired. The fine arts degree wielding Kenai resident jumped at the chance to exercise her art and showed up to the first session.

"I'm an artist and I don't often get to use life models. It's a rare opportunity so I thought I'd take advantage of it," she said. "It's just good practice."

Greenway said she struggled to find models while she was in college at Michigan's Grand Valley State University. Her work is prominently based on nude figures.

"It's a constant battle trying to find people to pose for you, especially if you're working independently. It was very difficult for me to find a live model that would be willing to sit for me," she said.

Zirrus VanDevere, artist and owner of Soldotna's Art Works store and gallery who also showed up to the session, said drawing the human figure is the best way to lean how to draw.

"It's always new, and it's always really, really difficult, even for people that do life drawing all the time," she said. "Being able to spend a lot of time drawing the figure we get to learn what it really looks like instead of what we think it looks like. And that's all drawing is, drawing what's there and not what we think is there."

Schoessler said that the workshop is looking for all sorts of people willing to bare it all, and for a stipend, of course.

Harper, the main organizer of the sessions, said he'd like to pay the models at least $30 per session, and that's the reason for the $5 cost of each workshop.

"If you are 300 pounds, good for you. We want all shapes and sizes. We're not looking for a specific look," Schoessler said. "Come as you are. As long as you're comfortable with yourself we're comfortable with you."

And, for liability reasons, as long as the willing models are 18 or older.

Harper, who had organized some life drawing session at the fine arts center over the past summer, said he likes drawing human form and expressions.

"We really want to understand ourselves a lot more in a lot of aspects," he said.

When Vadla took off his robe and began a short series of "gesture" poses each held for several seconds, the previous chattering stopped and the silence of the room was only broken by the scratching sound of markers, crayons and charcoal on paper. Artists at the community workshop were trying to understand the human form through his poses.

The life drawing sessions are held every second and fourth Thursday at the Kenai Fine Arts Center. They are open to the public for a $5 fee.

Interested models can call 283-7040.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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