Friday, June 18, 2010

The model vivant (The live model)

We had worked late in the studio one evening during my recent workshop. So the next morning I slept in a little later than usual. I was still groggy while getting ready when I heard Kippy calling my name from outside. I rushed to the window, bent over the second floor balcony to hear better and she said, "It's OK now. Everything's fine."
"What's OK?"
"It's all OK. I've talked to her."
"What are you talking about? Talked to Who?"
"Zee model vivant."
Oh dear.

Zee model vivant was tall and slender, dark and fashionable, commanding in presence. She has been modeling in Paris for over 20 years for art schools, independent artists and commercial photographers. No doubt, she has some stories to tell. "I'm looking for Degas type poses, nothing fancy, simply a woman grooming herself. Maybe even Toulouse Lautrec," I had told her. She knew exactly what we were wanting. I placed a boudoir chair onto the model stand and told her go go ahead and get comfortable, I'd work with the lighting. She sat. And bounced off the chair as if she had been stung. "NUH! I can not seet in zis chair!"
"Because eet does not feel right. I can not feel zee pose in eet."
"OK, well, then let's try this..."

The day wore on with me making suggestions and "NUH! I can not do zat pose, I do not feel it. I can do ziss.." By the end of the day, she was extending her long leg above her head, "..and I can do ziss, and I can do ziss for you...and I deed ziss pose for..." So zee model vivant posed in cabaret fashion, stradling chairs, extending pointed toes, wearing her top hat.

The morning I was called to the balcony, there was to be a photo session between one of the students and zee model before breakfast. But zee model said it was too chilly. Thus ensued a talk between Kippy and zee model.


  1. Dear Margaret,
    The work is lovely!
    And you have a linguistic talent to write an article with a wonderful sense of humour. I love it.
    Cheers, wink, wink,

  2. Love the dialogue, and wondered if the chair seat was too cold! Oh, the stories she could probably tell.
    Lovely piece!

  3. Thanks for the postings from France, which recount the pleasures of the trip but also hint at your trepidations. This bath piece reflects some enrichment from your travels, it seems to me, a bit moodier and dark than most of your work and...more complex and interesting! I love the whole attitude of this figure, the bony red joints jutting out aggressively at us, and the sullen expression. Give that dame an absinthe, and budge over, Degas!

  4. I am laughing out loud, George! Very well said!

    And you know, that is one thing I never got to do when I was in France, yet it was first on my list. I wanted to try absinthe and never got around to it. If I ever get to try it, I'd love for it to be in France!

  5. What a brillaint little tale! You've had me in severe chuckles. It's a great picture as well, the colours and mood are beautiful. I'm really pleased to have found your blog and I'm really looking forward to reading more on your adventures with zee model vivant and other creative escapdes...