Modelling for Art Life Drawing Classes
with Derek Batty
Take some time to read this page,
you might like to print it out. Then send
me an email with some information about yourself and a photo. Try
filling in the application form here.
is an interesting and rewarding experience. You get to see drawings of yourself and you find your self-esteem enhanced. More than that I really need you!
If you are local to Cambridge you could model for me individually or for my artist groups.
There is lots of information here and I keep adding to it - so print it out and keep checking back!†
Do you use male models too?
Yes. Men are much in demand and are sometimes more difficult to recruit. You do
not need to have the body of a weight-lifter. Just be reasonably active
and enjoy showing yourself off.
Can I meet you first?
Yes, excellent idea, but I will only consider meeting you once I have your
application form. Arrange a time to visit me during the break in a
class. Or make a time to visit my studio in
I am too nervous!
It is natural to be nervous, especially at first. But everyone
is very supportive. We value your work very highly. Sometimes people
are worried about being recognised! For students one bonus about the class
is that we are almost in a different world from the University. So it is
something of a relaxing break for you with real people. Whatever your
background we really respect your modelling for us and give you every support and
encouragement. There are sometimes personal worries particular
to men and women. (Men can be worried about getting erections and women can
worry about their periods.) It can be helpful to visit a class, then to model
for an individual artist or to model first for a portrait. Many issues are
discussed in the Figure
Drawing Group (a wonderful resource but perhaps not now accessible
without a sign up). There are
discussions on just about every conceivable topic connected with
Nudist Site also has an excellent page on the first experience as a model.
Alasdair Pal modelled for us and reported for The Tab here. Heathcote
has also commented about modelling as reported in The
What makes a good model?
Local to Cambridge (within 5 miles of the city centre or along the
guided bus route)
Able to hold a pose
All shapes and sizes
Easy going, relaxed and good humoured
Reliable and on time: keep a diary
Physically fit and active
Willing to try different poses
Clean and tidy. For men: clean shaven, or at least well trimmed!.
Natural hair, minimal makeup, if any
Access to a bicycle to get to classes
Available during class times.
And, if you can do it:
Exercise and keep fit to give tone to your muscles
Stand for a longer pose
Use your imagination to interpret ideas through body positions:
e.g. tortured, collapsing, stretching
Bring specialist knowledge, for example, classical ballet,
field athletics, karate, boxing, interpretative dance or gymnastics.
Change your hair style occasionally, wear different clothes, offer
to bring in sports or musical instruments.
There is always a private area where you undress. Wear a gown or
long T shirt to walk from your changing area to the set; although some
models are happy to be nude all the time - whatever you are comfortable
with. The class is grouped in a circle around the set where you model.
There are drapes, comfortable seating and heaters.
The class will be ready to start as soon as you come onto the
set. I will give you full guidance. The first poses are usually one, two
or three minutes long. Iíll ask you to take up positions which you can only
hold for a short time, trying to ensure varied views from all positions
in the room.
Where else can I get modelling work?
Many people write to me wanting information, contacts and
suggestions for finding modelling work in their area. Unless you are in
Cambridge or very close by I cannot offer any specific guidance. In
London contact the lovely people at London Drawing and possibly the Register of Art Models (RAM). Elsewhere anyone advertising Life Drawing classes will be pleased to hear from
you. Go to your local library and ask about life drawing classes in
schools and local colleges.
Check out art shops. Groups are often advertised there and the shop staff
may know of contacts. Alternatively ask if you could put up your own
advertisement. There are regular groups in Grantchester and
Huntingdon who recruit models from my classes.
Colleges and schools often need models: ring them up and leave your
telephone number. Additionally get the name of a contact and write in with
your details. I find it very helpful to have details of height, weight,
hair style and colour, age, activities you do and where you are
based. This is because I like to employ a variety of people.
Some tutors and artists only use female models.
You could also try contacting artists direct. For Cambridge look in the Cambridge
studios booklet. In the States models are also apparently used
for medical demonstrations - look at the Figure Drawing Group mentioned
Other places you could
Do you publish models' contact details?
No, I do not give out models' contact details. If you are here looking for
a model either privately or for a group I will consider forwarding your
information to my models. Send me full details including pay,
Life drawing class from 1715
What kind of poses shall I do?
In the quick sketches it is good to have frozen action - dynamic positions you
can hold for just a minute or two. For the longer drawing (one hour) you
need something more comfortable, although with breaks most poses are
possible. Anything goes, and the more energy you put into your work
the more you will be appreciated. We are not necessarily seeking
'natural' positions - sports photography shows the figure in all kinds of
contortions and your actions can add to the expressiveness of our art.
A key method in getting an interesting pose is for your shoulders to be turned
in relation to your hips. At
the end of the session students combine to give you an extra tip as a reward for
Poses are set in various ways:
Sometimes a student will suggest an idea - perhaps they are working on a picture
and need specific figure reference. Or we might copy a position from a
painting or sculpture. Or you might be able to interpret themes like
'Spring' and 'Autumn'.
In the quick sketches I ask you to move from one pose to the next without a
break. In the quick poses you move your feet round each time so that
different people have a back view. I
might ask you to begin curled up and then,
with each successive drawing, to gradually stand up and open out. You need have no worries about lacking ideas for poses! I will give
you full guidance and ensure that you are able to give your best. Your well
being takes priority.
When do I get paid?
You are paid in cash at the end of the class which I ask you to
sign for. You should declare this if you are eligible to pay
tax. Your basic pay is £20 per hour (September 2022) but the class make an
additional contribution on top of that by putting coins into a
collection tin for you. Typically you will earn around £60 - £65 for a
class. Payment is confirmed with you at the time of booking.
What do I do next?
Send me an email with some information about yourself. Try accessing
my Application for Models. Fill this out and
send it to me as an attachment. (If that is too tricky then just send me
an email with same information.)
Then we can arrange to meet up:
during the break in one of my classes, at my house / studio or at my Open Studio in July.
I sometimes get a number of modelling enquiries all at once,
particularly in October.
It is very helpful to have a
description of yourself and a simple face picture. Details of your location, height, weight, age, hair style, availability and
mobile number - all help to give emphasis to your
Photography is not permitted in the classes. But my artists are serious
in their work and often would really like to take a photograph to
support their work outside of the class. You can let me know on your
application if you will consider this and then individuals might
occasionally ask your permission for a photo. Needless to say
these are not published but are for individual use only.
Additionally you might like a photo for yourself so you could give me
your phone and I will take some for you - to delete later or keep
as a souvenir! Many models like to take photos of their drawings
at the end of a session and our artists are most happy for you to do so.
What happens after I receive your application?
I usually check your location and availability immediately
to see if there is anything I can offer you right now. I
might consider whether I have special classes which might be particularly
suitable for you; for example bony, skinny types for my occasional
anatomy-themed groups, or striking features for a portrait. I
try to reply positively within a week or so but it may be a bit longer at busy
Unfortunately I cannot use models who are
more than five miles outside of Cambridge centre. I do not use
models beyond Cambridge. The main train station is too remote from the
class and Cambridge North is a 40 minute walk;
and weather and traffic conditions are too unpredictable. (However
I might consider you if you live along the guided bus
More computer-wise models could set up a simple web page with their details and
a photo. Or even easier would be to contact me via Facebook.
you have read this far then maybe you might like a few tips on
making the best impression with your application? It can be very
difficult for me sorting through, especially if I get a rush of
enquiries all at once, and even more so when I have a fairly good number
of people already. Ideally I only want to be employing six female
and six male models at one time. I like to get to know you so that
you become comfortable and experienced in the class.
How do you get my attention? Make life easy for
Have a nice, simple head photo attached to your application. (No
makeup, not even the men.)
Write enough, but not too much.
Study the current class times and locations.
Be available during some daytimes (currently Wednesday mornings).
Send a reminder that you are still interested.
(and ridiculously) small things can inadvertently go against you, such
as not attaching a photo, or a photo with bright red lipstick, or asking
me to search elsewhere for it on
facebook or instagram. Additionally using initials or pseudonyms in your email address,
eg X.Y.Smith@email.com or
firstname.lastname@example.org; having a dual gender name and not saying whether you are m or f (yes, I know, I know), changing the
fonts; using too small a font and applying weird colours or
using a format which does not present the information easily can all
trip me up in confusion. I
know, it is ridiculous. But you have read this far and I want you
to do the best you can!
Hope to hear from you! My email
address can be seen below.
Last updated 28-09-2022