HARRISONBURG, Va. — Nude modeling is an odd job many JMU students wouldn’t consider. In art classes such as figure drawing, male and female nude models are employed for the class to draw in a professional manner. 

“I’m generally OK with my body image, ” said Jimmy Hauver, a freshman physics major who works as a nude model. “I wanted to have it under my belt to say I did it.”

While nude modeling might invoke some “bragging rights,” Hauver said the worst part of the job was standing in one position for so long. Every time he held a position for a long time, his body would become stiff and the next day he would wake up feeling sore. Because of the physical strain, he tried not to model too often. An added incentive for Hauver to model is being paid $12.50 per hour.

The most interesting part of modeling, Hauver said, was to see everyone’s paintings afterwards. He was interested to see the different emphasis that students put on different parts of his body. He has never asked for copies of students paintings and drawings, but said that he would like some. 

Hauver added that most students were “fairly comfortable” drawing him, but sometimes it could get embarassing. 

“It was awkward if I ever made eye contact, because they’re looking at your body, and then you look at their eyes, and you’re standing there naked,” he said. 

He said he would be uncomfortable if the class was uncomfortable, but since they were OK, he is too. 

“I guess some people have these initial giggles, but I just saw it as work,” said Gwendolyn Garrett, a sophomore art and English major who has taken the figure drawing class. 

She attributed those giggles to nervousness and said that most people were mature. Because she had taken classes with nude models before, they did not faze her. 

“There’s always that person who’s first question is ‘How big was his [genitalia]’, ” she said, but added that her parents and most of her friends were fine with the idea of her drawing nude models. 

However, Garrett said there was an “unspoken” understanding that they were only there to work and not to have “in depth conversation” with the models.

Drawing nude models gives a “basic understanding of form and how to capture something in front of you that’s moving and breathing,” she said. It also taught her the correct way to draw a  body’s bends and curves. 

For Garrett, drawing males was more difficult because they tended to be more angular. Models held various poses depending on how long they were working; they did more strenuous poses for shorter times, usually bending their bodies or standing with an arm out.

“Drawing the human form is an important part of the artistic development because it’s the hardest thing to master,” said Cole Welter, an art professor who teaches a figure drawing class. 

He said that “undraped models” had been in use ever since the School of Art and Art History became a major department. Models in general had been used in art classes since the school opened in 1909. 

Welter said drawing undraped models gives students the “confidence and ability to translate those skills to other areas.” 

He compared the question of initial student nervousness to that of medical students about to take an anatomy course: The students were professional and serious about their study

Contact Caitlin Hawes at hawescm@jmu.edu