As an artist that likes to draw the human figure in all its glorious variety, I often find myself disgusted and dismayed at the body fascism in today's mass media. This particular model was a trained dancer and as such had a completely different take on her body to the average man or woman, and wasn't terribly bothered about getting her kit off. But it is very very difficult to find a male or female model whose body is not 'perfect', who has lumps and bumps and maybe a little extra upholstery in places ... like Lucien Freud's painting of the social worker. She was a big lady, and might not have been celebrated by fashion media, but she had a body that painters would love. I would love a model like that again - I had one such model when I lived in the Netherlands, she was fantastic because she also had the body control we needed.
My trained dancer model in the image above, in addition to being marvellous for life-drawing, also had wonderfully strong feet. I mean, you could imagine her gouging holes in slate flagstones. I started to pay attention to them during the last few sessions I worked with her, probably because I had drawn every other bit of her several times and even painted up a couple of pieces in oil on canvas. I suppose when you look at something over and over, there comes a point when you see the bits you hadn't previously taken much into consideration. I knew how strong the model's back was, I had seen the muscles working under her skin in various poses, was very familiar with how the flesh in her torso moulded around her skeleton in various sitting and standing poses, and how the light would pick up her shoulder, clavicle, breast, ribcage. But the feet are a challenge.
I suppose that I have a particular take on the matter, given that in recent years I learned that I was flat-footed to the extent that knees and other joints were more vulnerable, and as such I am very aware of the weight feet carry, and yet how delicate a structure it is. As I knew my model is a dancer, not only did I have the sense that she could gouge holes in flag floors, but that each foot was a spring that would lift her off the ground whenever she wanted.
Or maybe it's just easier to do the fleshy bits on the torso, I don't know. I'll get back to you on that one when I do more life-drawing with a different model.