Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Getting naked. In public

As I approached my 29th birthday (many, many years ago) I asked my close friends to help me compile a list of things I should do before hitting the big three-oh. The idea was that the suggestions should be things that would challenge me, help me overcome a fear, teach me something or be something I’d always talked about doing.

I ended up with an impressive list, ranging from ‘go back-packing’ to ‘get a tattoo’ (both of which I ended up doing), but the challenge that stood out the most was ‘pose for a life drawing class’… yup… ‘pose naked for a life drawing class’…

My first reaction was "No way! I couldn’t… not in a million years! What a ridiculous idea! Get naked? In front of a whole room full of strangers! Nooooooooooooooo waaaaaaaaaaay"

But the idea had been planted and the little seed of suggestion grew in my mind. Every now and then my thoughts would wander and there it would be, waving at me, that little idea whispering ‘Why not?

I started to wonder if I’d dismissed it too quickly… maybe I could do it… and maybe I’d actually get something out of it…

Like so many women I know I had often experienced negative feelings about my body. I’d look in the mirror and see my round hips and rotund thighs. I’d focus on all things I didn’t like. Sometimes I avoided mirrors altogether…

The more I thought about it the more I started to realise why my friend had suggested it in the first place. If I had been afraid of spiders he would have told me to hold a Tarantula in my hand (Shhhh I am scared of spiders… don’t tell my friend).

Getting my kit off in public would give me an opportunity to experience myself in a new way. To be totally vulnerable. To be still. To be quiet. To see myself the way other people see me. Without the filters.

Once I had committed to the idea I started to make some calls. A little part of me hoped that I wouldn’t find an art school willing to accept a model with no experience. That little piece of me that always holds me back, that little piece that says ‘You’re not good enough’, ‘You’re not worthy’, ‘You’re not ok’.

But that little seed of suggestion had grown into a mighty tree, its foundations gave me strength, its branches gave me courage… its leaves waved and rustled and whispered…. ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’…. 



When I got the call booking me in for an 8-hour life painting class I was absolutely thrilled.

And then I was terrified. 

On the morning of the art class I felt sick with nerves, as I travelled into the city I kept asking myself why I was doing it? I could stay on the train and go somewhere else. I could make an excuse. But somehow my body ignored my head and my legs carried me off to the art college regardless.

The teacher was kind. She spoke softly about different poses and arranged cushions on the floor. The room was warm. I changed into a dressing gown and waited for the students to arrive. I felt my heart beat in my chest.

It turned out to be one of the most liberating experiences of my life. I felt oddly comfortable reclined on the ground in the altogether. Showing off my birthday suit. I listened intently. Paints were mixed. Bushes were washed. Lines were drawn. Brushes met paper. The clock ticked. The heater hummed. I was ok.

At the end of the class I walked around to see the finished artwork. And I was stunned. Humbled. Elated. The woman in the pictures was beautiful. I took photos to remember the experience and the feeling.

I was ok




Linking up with the lovely Jess at Diary of a Stay at home Mum for IBOT

75 comments:

  1. WOW what a brave inspiring thing to do. Good on you, Im sure after doing this you can go on to achieve anything you put your mind to :) (and the pictures are gorgeous)

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  2. That is fabulous! I'm so proud of you! You are so brave and look at the fabulous results. Amazing. Link up for Flash Blog Friday this week so I can feature you next week. Best post I have read in a long time! Bree.

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  3. What a brave and amazing thing to do! And what beautiful pics :)

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  4. My goodness Catherine!
    You would have to be one of the bravest people I've ever 'met' (in an online sense of the word!)
    I am just in awe of you, my dear!
    Never in a million years....
    xx

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  5. Fantastic Catherine. How great that you challenged yourself so, I once rang a life drawing studio to volunteer as a life model, but chickened out at the last minute. I didn't make the hurdle as you did. A really lovely post. X

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  6. I can kind of see you in the Titanic drawing there. lol. Such a naked hottie (and no i don't see you that way but I do think those illustrations are very beautiful).

    I'm turning 30 in less than two weeks and have no list. I wish I did though. How much can I fit into two weeks?

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    1. I'm sure you can fit a couple of 'challenges' in before your birthday! Is there anything you've always wanted to do? I did lots of the things on my list and got so much out of each experience. Please email me your address so I can send you a b'day card! xx

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  7. Wow! That is awesome! Well done you!

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  8. Fantastic Catherine! What a great thing to have done and look back on next time you are challenged. Very inspiring x

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  9. So I've been accused of having a little too much confidence sometimes, but I couldn't do that - well done.

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  10. Well done! What a brave and unique experience. But how ever did you stay still for 8 hours??

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    1. There were regular breaks for me to get up and stretch, and the pose was quite easy - It must be much harder to stand still!

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  11. You saucy mama! It sounds like a great idea. If only my muffin top wasn't so prominent I'd consider doing the same. When I was 7months pregnant I commissioned a photoshootm and ran through the woods half naked in a tiara. I imagined framing the images and putting them on my wall, instead they sit rolled up in a cupboard. The hormone inspired artist in me retreated. I may just have to dust them off. Yr pics have just downloaded, they're lovely x

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    1. Thank you. And yes should def dust off your photos - they sound fabulous!

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  12. What a rewarding experience! The pictures are lush and sexy. I'd bet your husband loves them! Co-incidently I briefly toyed with the idea of nudie modelling myself, mostly because I'm finding it so difficult to find gainful employment any other way.
    Keep pushing through your comfort zone!
    Mumabulous

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  13. Go you! Sounds like it would have been an amazing experience and those paintings are fantastic

    Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses #teamIBOT

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  14. You completely rock!! That is such a cool thing to do.. my cousin once painted a naked woman and it was the most wonderful pic i had seen!
    I bet it was nerve wracking but the thrill afterwards was probably completely worth it! And the pictures boy.. they paint a beautiful picture!

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    1. Thanks Jane! I got loads out of the experience and really recommend it x

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  15. wow! what an amazing experience. Congratulations fr stepping out of your comfort zone.

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  16. Fantastic. I did life drawing for 2 years and I often thought I would like to do it, but never have. One day!

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  17. Woowooo, you go girl. What a wonderful life experience and how brave are you??? I'm such a scardy cat about pretty much anything so to see someone take the leap and just do it, is so inspiring. Well done :)

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  18. Omg, you are so brave to face your fears and pick up the courage to go through this! Salute you! And yes, the pics look gorgeous! Dropping by from ibot and now following on GFC. Cheers!

    Summer @ A Happy Mum

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  19. bloody hell! You have blown me away, good for you!

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  20. WOWEEEEE!! You are ONE brave woman!!! FAbulous Fantastic.. WE SHOULD ALL DO IT!!... I won't.. I'd be shit scared!!!

    Congrats.. you NOW have a FABULOUS story to tell your grandchildren when your older.. that YOU were a NUDE model!!

    Also a great story to embarrass them if they misbehave!!!

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  21. Good. For. You!!! Go girl!


    Has anyone else seen the spelling mistake/Freudian slip? LOL!

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    1. You'll have to help me out.. I'm dyslexic so despite reading it at least ten times mistakes sometimes slip though!

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    2. Brilliant error. Brilliant. I just had my internal ab workout for the day! ;)

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    3. Bugger! My comment got lost earlier, about 7.30 am this morning, on exactly the same thing. I snorted tea across my lap, necessitating a quick washed bush! ;)

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  22. Good for you Catherine....I am loving that freudian slip though so please don't take it out!

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  23. You are amazing. I would frame them and keep them. I don't know if i could do it, but you never know, the seed has been planted :) Rachel xx

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  24. I love this- love that you were able to go ahead and do it anyway. So. impressed. What wonderful spirit!
    I've been on the other side as an artist- I did a course in 2002. My brother had been considering modelling and rang me to confirm which school NOT to ring! But 8 hours, reclined in a warm room. Is napping permissible? Cause that's what I'd be doing ;)

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  25. Amazing. I could never have done that in a million years. Major kudos to you for facing your fears.

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  26. wow!!! thats so daring of you, I cna imagine how liberating. Those pics are so beautiful!!! good on you x

    x Meagan @ Cider in the Sun

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  27. I'm impressed not just that you did it, but also that you showed the pictures! I know I couldn't do it.

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  28. Perfect. I tried to convince a friend to do the same... so far the limit has been a very tiny pair of hotpants with suspender stockings whilst bouting at Derby.
    Go YOU!! xxXOoo

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  29. What a fantastic experience that must have been for you - good for you for having it on your list and being able to cross it off !!
    Have the best day ever - love, hugs and positive energy.
    Me

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  30. What a tremendous experience!!! And what beautiful artwork you inspired. My baby boys have no issues posing naked :)

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  31. What an amazing, terrifying, exciting experience!!
    That would be such a confidence booster and something that you can say you did for yourself and no one else.
    Well done sexy legs :)

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  32. WOW! You are truly awesome!

    Found you via #ibot

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  33. I absolutely LOVE this post. Thank you for sharing. x

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  34. Love everything about this post, your way of making the list, the artwork you inspired!

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  35. WOW!! How inspiring!! Not sure if I could to it ;) bx

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  36. Wow, I am really impressed!! I don't think I could do it. I'm not particularly fond of being naked in front of my HUSBAND let alone strangers!

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  38. Wow that's amazing, I could never do this, I don't think I have the inclination to do so, but its so awesome that you had the courage to do it! Art is an amazing thing and seeing peoples different perspectives and interpretations of something can be really eye opening, so its great you were able to give other people a chance to show you how they see you!

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  39. Wow, what an amazing thing to do! Bet it was exhilarating. Good on you for pushing your barriers xx

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  40. I have goosebumps Catherine! Those paintings are amazing. You're so brave to do that, I simply couldn't...although I wish I would.

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  41. And here's me thinking that showing my naked face was brave! You're awesome. Immediately I'll say I don't think I could do that. But then again, maybe I could?

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  42. That's awesome Catherine, well done! I could never do it. Xx

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  43. Amazing and you are right such beautiful pictures!
    I would never think to do anything like this or consider the effect and what it could do for the model. Thank you for sharing this, you are one brave, beautiful woman!

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  44. Wow! You are one brave, awesome woman! I just mentioned to my husband that maybe I should do something like that. He said I could try it right now if I wanted! Typical ;)

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  45. You are braver than I! :) Awesome :) xo

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  46. LOVE IT! How brilliant of you to do something that made your heart thump x

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  47. Wow! What an awesome and inspiring post! I just love that you did something so brave and reaped the beautiful benefits.

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  48. What an amazing thing to do!!! Love the paintings. I wouldn't be able to do it (nude up OR stay still for 8 hours!!) I jumped out of a plane for my 30th instead. Much less nerve racking! ;)

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    1. I jumped out of a plane too! I think that was even scarier!

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  49. Woman you have guts! No friggin way would I be able to. But oh after reading this is be mildly tempted by the gorgeous end results! Would you ever do it again??

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    1. I think I will do it again. Maybe when I'm old and retired and need the cash :-)

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  50. Wow. That' really rather inspirational. I'm impressed.

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  51. um... wow here too! I would never have the nerve to do that!..

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  52. WOW! WOW! WOW! Now that's inspiring! I have a friend who decided to do a Burlesque class for the same reason. She had body image issues so decided to jump in the deep end. She felt beautiful and empowered afterwards too.
    I admire you!!
    You totally rock ...
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit

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  53. I love this post. What a way to be awesome! What a story of bravery and courage and acceptance. Love it. Congratulations. xox

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  54. This is just all kinds of awesomeness. I am in awe and inspired and amazed and too many other things to list. Go you good thing - what an amazing thing to do for yourself xx

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  55. Catherine what ever friend gave you the advice was a wise sole. I can sense your liberation just reading this post. Your a strong woman! Well done :)

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  56. Woohoo! You go girl! You certainly have more guts than I do, I don't like stripping off in front of anyone! Especially after having a child.
    Chrissie xx

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  57. You're braver than me! How proud you must be of yourself for going through with it, good on you. I used to have nightmares of going to work with no clothes on, not about to take that dream head on lol :)

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