A Musing on Models

I talked to Roxy this morning and showed her the painting I finished a few nights ago. She loved it.

I’ve been experimenting with a lot of sunsets recently as I’m really getting into colors. I went thru my dualchromatic phase and now, I’m doing the opposite. I want lots, and lots of color.

One hot tip about painting sunsets – simply go outside and watch a bunch. You’ll see all kinds of different colors, depending on a lot of variants from how clear the sky is to what stage in the sunset you’re in.

I also told Roxy that immediately after finishing the painting, I started laughing. Because the lady in the painting looks like a little Roxy.

Roxy laughed.

She’s been there since the beginning, when I made the switch from a cartoonist to an artist. I drew Allie first. But after Roxy saw me drawing Allie, she wanted me to draw her.

Well, soon it went from pencils to colored pencils to watercolor.

Now, a long time ago, I took photography classes. I took them all the way back in high school.

Of course in high school, we couldn’t photograph nude women just yet. However, since high school, that’s what I wanted to do.

I’d thumb through photography magazines and while the majority of the men shot sports, cars, and the outdoors, I wanted to photograph beautiful women.

In college, that’s what I started doing. Nothing serious, but it did make for a pretty fun hobby. Plus, I got to meet tons of hot babes this way. Long before the internet became mainstream (and years before I knew what the internet even was), women still wanted their beauty seen. If you have the talent to show their beauty, you usually got a yes. That’s of course if you’re legit and not some creepy guy who scares the babes away.

So long before I became an artist, I worked with models. All amateurs at first as I knew I didn’t have the talent to get a job shooting for Penthouse anytime soon.

The 2000s

When the 00s rolled around, I’d long given up on music. Sold all my gear long ago and spent time with my wife and son. Also, tried to make as much money as I possibly could because I knew that more money means better vacation options.

I got heavily into cartooning. At first, I used my wife as the model. Clothed, usually in a cute top and a skirt. I wrote this comedy cartoon of 4 people – a lion, a dog, a rabbit, and a hot chick.

I started to get pretty good at cartooning. At first, I wanted to do it the old fashioned way with cels. Then, I learned about Toon Boom Studio and decided to make my cartoons in Flash.

Of course I got along great with the Mrs. But as a one man team, it took way too much time up and I eventually shelved that project.

Then the Opium Tales idea came and went. We never got funding so that ended that.

Then I got back into music and with music came hot chicks. Yes, as long as you’re not playing Prog, girls magically appear when you get seriously into music.

One of the girls I used to shoot wanted to become a Suicide Girl but never pulled the trigger. It’s a shame as she would have been a shoe in, considering she was way better looking than most of them.

But that’s how I started working with models again. Music.

Music led to music videos and short films, which meant I ended up working with over a dozen different models. Most were one offs but some stuck around for multiple projects.

Modeling is work

Which leads me to this point. Most folks think that all it takes to be a model is to be good looking. Well, plenty of good looking girls out there would make absolutely shitty models.

Now, I’m not talking about runway models. That’s a completely different beast.

I can’t tell you a thing about runway modeling because for one, I’ve never been to a fashion show. For another, I’ve never shot fashion modeling.

More importantly, people talking out of their asses is one of my pet peeves. And I’m not one of those people who tell other people not to do something, then proceed to do it myself. So, I’ll refrain from saying a word about runway modeling.

I’m talking about both photography models and pinup models since I’ve worked with both.

Of the two, I think photography modeling is easier. Still hard, but easier.

Pinup modeling requires a lot of personality. You have to groove with the artist or else the paintings won’t come out right.

Well sure, so does photography modeling. But even more so with pinups.

Photography modeling requires the model to look good, know what poses and angles make her look her best, know what flatters her and what doesn’t, know something about lighting and shadows, etc. Add all that to pinup modeling plus being able to exude the personality trait(s) that the artist is looking for for that particular painting.

Neither Allie nor Roxy are professional models. They’re both friends of mine who asked me to draw them.

Before Allie and Roxy, I’ve worked with a slew of models. I have my favorites. In fact, I have one that I worked with all the way back in 2016 that I really want to work with again.

And, I got ones that I will never work with again. Let me tell you some stories…

“Bad model, may you rot in obscurity”

I jest. I’m not that much of an asshole.

But, yes, there were one offs because we simply didn’t click and I had a few one offs that I thought absolutely sucked and had no place whatsoever in modeling. Then, you had your occasional lecturing bitch.

I used to be a lot more tolerant of people’s flaws. Not any more. I got very little patience with socially retarded folks. Especially the kind who think they’re always right.

I had this one one off once who asked me to sign a list of don’ts. Like, seriously? Why don’t you check out photographer’s references if you don’t trust them?

Well, that was back when I was nicer. I would immediately tell her where she can put her list if she asked me to sign that today.

I didn’t sign it of course. I just said I’d take a look at it and kept not taking a look at it.

She finally came over. Apparently she needed the money.

Well, surprise surprise. She wasn’t that good looking. She even had a little bit more stomach than titties. Nope, that ain’t gonna fly.

Anyways, she got to see my work and she also saw some reference photos of my real models laying around since I never stop working. And the wheels spun around in her head – of all the girls Roman paints, she’d be by far the least attractive. By far.

And guess what? She had a nervous breakdown on my bed.

Yes, not joking.

I had another model once who used to argue nutrition with me. Look bitch, there’s more than one way to be healthy. Apparently, she couldn’t comprehend that.

(I’ll outlive her even though I got 2 decades on her).

Other than that though, I’ve had pretty good models.

It’s funny because models are supposed to check photographer’s references. I check models’ references. I make sure they’re not bitches and also they’re not flaky. I hate flakes. (California is full of them).

It’s kind of like when you’re interviewing. I actually interview them just as much as they interview me. If I feel like I don’t want to work with them, I’ll next them. They know I’m doing it too, and not coincidentally, I get offers at an unusually high rate of jobs I interview for.

Life lesson in there.

Red flags

And like always, there are quite a few red flags when searching for models.

Feminist (which guarantees they will age poorly), some political agenda like that all bodies are beautiful nonsense, or some other nonsense that’s louder than their body of work.

Flaky. If they take too long to reply, forget it.

Age. Hate to break it to you but women like Monica Bellucci and Penelope Cruz are outliers. It’s very rare that women age that well. 30 is pretty much the curse of death for models.

Pronouns in profile. Guaranteed that person gets offended by everything and has a lecture prepared while you’re trying to get some work done. And for the record, I only paint women born female. I’m entitled to my sexual preferences and I’ve noticed that there are pronouns in profile people who want to make my preferences illegal. (Thought crime – Orwell was right).

Socially awkward. It’s probably fine for other types of models to be socially awkward. But for pinup models, you gotta be able to carry a conversation. Allie, Roxy, and Sophia all are great conversationalists. We’re having fascinating conversations as we’re working.

Is that important? Yes. It’s actually crucial to the work I do. When I paint, I do my best to capture an essence of the model’s personality in my works. The past cartooning plus my daily morning gesture drawing practice definitely helps.

There are others but these are some of the more outstanding red flags I’ve encountered.

If you got an Etsy account, please favorite my store. I’m hoping to have a lot more work up there by the end of this year.


    1. Do you do that? If so, would love to see them!

      My wife is actually heavily into comics. When we saw the first X-Men back in 2000, she had to tell me who everyone was. I knew Wolverine and Dr. X but that’s it.

      I owned some Superman and Green Lantern comics back in the 70s but they’ve been long lost.

      1. I would…but I never had a model for that. lol
        I recently started drawing for about a couple of years.

  1. Hey Roman! As you’ve never seen runway modeling, there has never been a model who could compare to Yasmeen Ghauri. Her hip to waist ratio with wide shoulders was something that made her a designer’s dream. Maybe you’ll find some inspiration, but you’ll definitely enjoy watching her.

    1. Ah yes. I had to look her up but I remember seeing her. She had quite a career!

      I’m watching a YouTube video of her interviewed now.

      And great to see you. 🙂

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