Friday, July 15, 2016

The Naked Muse by Kelley Swain

★★★★★  The publisher provided a copy for review
Oh my goodness! Completely unexpected and beautifully written.

I signed up for Figure Drawing when we lived in the UK. I expected a class on perspective, geometry, and line drawing. Instead, to my surprise, a woman walked into the room, dressed in a robe - which she proceeded to take off. She posed for us for 2 hours - while we drew the curves and lines of her body.  I stayed for 8 weeks of learning about the human figure.

Swain writes about the model as person and object in an insightful and astonishing way. Her descriptions and categories of heart and art sing to the reader. She does a wonderful job of explaining the skills and attitudes that make a life model successful (or not) and how important the work is to the development of the artist and art teacher.

I learned a lot years ago during class - and now again from Swain - about how the human body is perceived in art. I remember how the self-worth of the model showed up in the drape of a body and the poses. I wouldn't volunteer again for a "naked muse" class, but having attended, this book was enlightening.

In an age when women are exploited and trafficked for various reasons, I've highly recommended Swain's insights on self-exposure to friends who work with women, as well as those considering figure drawing courses.

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