“With Figure Drawing class being moved online after spring break, our professional models, who live in various parts of Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania enthusiastically set up their studios at home after we learned that they could not come into our school as usual.

The improvised studios consisted of neutral backgrounds, a wall, a curtain or sheet as a background with adapted lighting, sometimes professional lights found in a garage or table lamps from the living room to create the scene. We worked together in advance to test the settings.  I set the stopwatch and timed the poses and drew with the students from my kitchen. 

We were all on Zoom gathering online from Pittsburgh, South Korea, and New York City.  Every now and then a friendly pet joined the model unannounced, my favorite was when two cats, a ginger and a black cat posed with our model while her parrots sang in the wings. Each session was an experiment with lighting and backgrounds, when the lighting and camera worked well we drew the full figure, when the focus was more challenging we tended towards close-ups with hands, feet and portraits. The students help set the poses from their locations and by having their involvement it helped us all work together as a group. They uploaded images from each session and I sent individual comments to them each week. 

One of our models found a turntable in their shed and we used it to rotate the same pose to create a composition of three poses on the same page. During another session the model had found some colored lighting gels and we played with complimentary colors from different angles to work on shading. All in all, it was a great experiment and it was very gratifying to receive positive feedback from the students and the models and I would definitely do it all over again.”

Narelle Sissons