Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Embody Project

Last week, I had the opportunity to work with Erica Mueller and Trey Scott.  They're partners in the Embody Project, a photo and video exploration of people and body issues.  I won't tell you any more than that, except to say: go look at the project's web site, and spend a lot of time there.  It's good stuff.  Erica is a professional photographer and Trey a professional videographer.  They bring their highly-developed skills to this very heart-felt project.  I was highly impressed just looking at their web site, so the opportunity to work with two pros was too good to pass up.

Erica wanted to do a photo session with an artist's life model.  She needed a working artist's studio and some artists to draw the figure.  My studio was certainly available and so were a couple of other artists.  We gathered there last Thursday.  The model, David, is a really nice guy who turned out to be an outstanding figure model - very experienced, very good poses, and lots of material to work with.  When we set up the studio, our mission was to allow Erica and Trey to get the best shots they could of artists working from the figure.  Our own drawing experience was in the "nice to do" category but it was not the purpose of the session.  One of the things Erica noticed during setup was that the spotlight on the model was very warm, while the supporting lights for the artists were very cool, almost blue.  As you'll see in her resulting photo, this actually turned out for the best, as it provided a conceptual break between David and the artists.

When we actually got moving, it was intense.  We did ten 1-minute poses.  I was working with vine charcoal on paper, Tebbe was using pencil, and Mark was doing oil on panel.  David, the model, kept time in his head, and moved from one pose to the next quickly and seamlessly.  Ever done 1-minute life drawing?  You gotta move fast.  Get it down, get it right, keep moving, because it's gonna be over in a few seconds and you start a new one.  I compared it to being on a ski slope when you're in over your head but committed, and your only option is to ride that slope and stay on your feet.  Here are a couple of my sketches:



After a short break to discuss the next steps, we did a couple of 10-minute poses.  After those short poses, ten minutes seemed like forever ... at least until the time was up, in which case it was way too short.  Again, it was intense.  Draw quick: time's almost up!

Through it all, Erica and Trey kept shooting.  Erica must have taken a thousand photos.  Trey had his camera going constantly, sometimes on the tripod and sometimes walking around.  I'd be working away and out of the corner of my eye would see a figure and camera moving slowly around us, peering over our shoulders or backing out to take in the whole scene.

And then it was done.  We stood around discussing the experience and started packing up.  It took a while.  Anytime you have a shared, intense experience, it takes some time to come down from it.

From the thousand or so photos that Erica took, she has posted one, along with David's own thoughts.  It's really good.  You can see it here: embodyproject.com/david-usa/.

1 comment:

David L said...

Skip, great post. It was such a pleasure to work with the talented artists assembled for the shoot. As a model, it is very inspirational posing for such a passionately artistic group. It makes my job so much easier. And thanks to ERica and Trey for their passion and efforts. It was definitely one of the most rewarding model sessions I have been a part of.