How I posed nude for painters and survived the ordeal

How I posed nude for painters and survived the ordeal
By Walter Ang
April 17, 2002
Philippine Daily Inquirer

The challenge: 2bU! needed someone willing to pose nude for a group of artists and then write about the experience. My response: Yes.

I don't know why the request sounded so appealing. Perhaps it spoke to my adventurous side. Perhaps it spoke to my ego ? the idea was tinged with glamour, "I will be immortalized as a piece of art!" I even suggested the final artworks could be titled, "Handsome Naked Young Man," but Lito Zulueta, the Arts Section editor, looked absolutely mortified.

Of course, I had some concerns. The whole world was going to see my, er, shortcomings. After all, you can't go nude without showing your, uhm, equipment. What if my equipment would start to "act up"? Sometimes those things have a mind of their own! I was also worried if the place would be cold since every guy knows what low temperatures can do to their equipment. Also, I am a fidgety person. How in the world was I supposed to stay still for hours on end?

Just do it
I arrived early at the house, aptly located in bohemian Malate, where the session would be held. The artists and their amiable manager, Delan Rebillos, filed in one at a time as his lovely wife, Jae, made introductions. I made small talk with artists Sam Penaso and Tres Roman as they showed me some of their works. Sam had done distorted human figures in his "Hubog" series that I really liked. People with a sense of humor, irony and whimsy would love Tres's series "Tribute to Frued."

I may not have any background on visual arts, but that doesn't mean I couldn't appreciate what these artworks had to offer. "And that's what our group "the artery", is here to do," said Delan, "To demystify 'art' and make it accessible to everyone."

Merienda was served but I had too many butterflies in my stomach so I had to decline while everyone else was happily munching away. We then proceeded to a room with a bed set up with white sheets. I disrobed with only a malong to preserve what little modesty was left. I was shown what pose I should take and, without no fanfare at all, I slipped the malong off. I never felt "exposed" or embarrassed because the artists immediately got to work and everyone was very accommodating, going out of their way to make sure I was comfortable.

Red wine was served and that really helped me relax. It was very quiet and all I could hear was the "skritch, skritch, skritch" of their tools (palette knife) or medium (oil, charcoal, pastes) on the materials they were using (paper, canvass, velour). I stayed as absolutely still as I could. I didn't want to compromise the artists' works.

The artists were very kind and kept telling me to let them know when I wanted to rest. Pretty soon, Delan and Jae started a conversation with me, which was a lifesaver since I was getting sleepy. Finding out that the model can actually talk while posing was the first of many discoveries that afternoon.

I was pleased at myself when he mentioned that 35 minutes had already passed. "I've been still for that long?!" I was so sure my muscles would be screaming murder barely five minutes into it. We eventually took a break and the artists did touch ups on their works while I shook off the kinks that were starting to form. I peeked at the different colors and shapes that were beginning to take form and was very excited.

After that first break, I was less rigid and would ask everyone all sorts of questions about their craft. What do artists feel when they give away or sell their art, don't they miss their works? Do they render works everyday or only when the mood hits them? They had pretty insightful answers and it was interesting to find out that, similar to writer's block, artists can get artist's block as well.

I did the first pose for another hour and took a look at the artworks. It was amazing. Some of them were able to execute two works with different styles from my first pose alone! To see all those different styles from these five artists was really inspiring. All those reds, blues and other hues in different strokes and lines really makes one think of the many ways one can view the world and how one thing (the model) can provide the impetus for new creations
(the artworks).

We took a longer break before I did my second pose since the artists were visibly drained. People may think artists have it easy "just painting" but it takes a lot of effort. You could see exhaustion in their faces. My second pose was easier since I was made to lie down. "So you can rest!" they all chimed in.

The artists and I both got our second winds and we were seriously back to work. By then, our conversations were about everything and anything under the sun. I got to find out the rate for nude models. It starts at P400 per hour for unknowns and as high as high as P2,000. I could have made P1,600 that day!

The next two hours flew by quickly. When we were all done and I stretched a little bit, I took a few minutes to gaze at all the artworks laid on the floor and table. According to Delan, the total worth of all five artists with one artwork each can reach P80,000. The total output that day was 15 pieces. You do the math.

But what it's all worth in money isn't even the issue. To have seen all the effort that went into it makes for a very interesting viewpoint and accomplished feeling. I kept looking at the works and it was a very strange, yet pleasing moment. Albeit I kept thinking "This is me?!" I was tickled pink with what I saw. I was exhausted and famished but I got that fuzzy, warm feeling all over me. And the muscle kinks disappeared.