This One Weird Thing: Naked Figure Drawing

reddress_unsceneThis One Weird Thing: Naked Figure Drawing

I know a lot of weird things. This column explains why.

by Christa Weiss




Naked Figure Drawing! Woooooo!


…Actually, the technical term is nude figure drawing. And do not “wooo”. Do not “woo” at all.

My college was weird. Like, super weird. It was an art school mashed in with a tech school that shared a campus with NTID, the National Technical Institute for the deaf. Basically, it was a campus filled with people who were completely incapable of communicating with each other, be it for physical reasons or social ones. For now, know this: What I am about to tell you is totally normal. For an art school, at least.


Freshman Figure drawing. I was excited for it. I love to draw and I was stoked that I was finally in a place that had real live models, that would actually sit still for more than a couple of minutes. It’s pretty difficult to find someone to just stare into oblivion for a long period of time, just because you asked them to. And yeah, I guess those people were supposed to be naked. I was a little weirded out by the idea, but I mean, models are supposed to be attractive, right? It couldn’t be too bad.


The perception, by the general public and shitty American eagle t-shirts, is that nude figure drawing is:


SNL's nude art class model sketch is the most accurate depiction of this I've seen to date.

SNL’s nude art class model sketch is the most accurate depiction of this I’ve seen to date.


B) OMG those super hot models are totally gonna have sex with me!!!

C) I want to be a nude model and then chicks will look at my junk and have sex with me!!!


Guh. Buh. Arrrgh. No. Wrong.



I hate to say it, but oh man, those models were….not pretty. Think less Cindy Crawford and more Kathy Bates. Think less Ryan Gosling and more Zach Galafanackis…but older, and with presumably much saggier balls.


I understand body acceptance, I do. I’m jealous of people who are totally cool with themselves, just the way that they are. I wish I could be like that, but there’s a difference between being comfortable with your naked body and inflicting your naked body upon other people.


The population of figure models was mostly the latter. Lumpy, hippiesh, artsy types. They were usually pretty hairy. The dudes and the ladies.  A good number of them had terrible tattoos, usually of a wolf, or a moon or a wolf howling at the moon or one of those man or woman gender symbol things. Call me crazy but if there is symbol of a woman, on a woman, it seems redundant to me. That’s like tattooing the word ARM on your arm. I think they were trying to make some kind of point with those tatoos, but they just ending up looking forgetful.


My most memorable experience drawing a model was with a seemly delightful old man. He looked like he could have been someone’s grandfather. Old man nudity is not nudity I’m excited about seeing, but he appeared to normal otherwise, so at least I wasn’t afraid that I was going to get lice. Then he took of his robe. Old man, old dick, pierced balls.


Now, I know a thing or two about piercing. And I know a thing or two about dicks.

And what I know for certain, is that if you’re into that sort of thing, you can get a lot of sexual pleasure from piercing the head of the penis. Ergo, said ball piercing, was purely ornamental. I’ve seen stranger things, but not many.


To the models’ credit, figure modeling wasn’t nearly as easy as everyone thinks it is. You don’t get to sit in a chair for 5 minutes and just hang out. Usually, they had to drape themselves in awkward positions, or have their arms raised a certain way or stand up. Sometimes we’d do quick 5 minute poses but usually, sessions would go 15, 30 or 45 minutes. Have you ever tried to raise your arm above your head for more than 2 minutes? It’s pretty impossible if you’re a wuss like me. And if you’re reading this, you probably are.


If the posing itself wasn’t difficult enough, this class took place during the winter in Upstate New York. Like UP, upstate, where it blizzards and you don’t go to work for a week. The unfun, cold, boring part of Upstate New York. Those models were there, naked, in a drafty uncarpeted classroom. They usually had a couple of heat lamps pointed at them, so it gave them a similar glow to that of a rotisserie chicken. Say what you will about those models, but they certainly earned their money.


One would think that being exposed to this kind of awkward nudity would be jarring, and it was, at first. Quickly though, you just sort of forgot about it. Imagine a medical school student dissecting a cadaver. Terrifying initially, but soon you develop a sort of clinical detachment.

I didn’t really see the dicks anymore. I saw the lines around the dicks.

It really wasn’t so bad.


This detachment later prepared me for one of my first jobs, where I had to crop out the pubic hair of before and after breast cancer surgery photos. I was cool with seeing pubes and titties. What was a lot harder to deal with was seeing the pictures of lumpy scars where titties used to be. You had to stay detached…but, oh man, just thinking about it makes me want to go get a mammogram…like right now.


Anyway, there you have it. Nude figure drawing: Not sexy at all. No hot models, no sex with classmates and it’s a hard, shitty job. I did actually learn a few things. Drawing live figures really did make my technical drawing skills much better. At the end of the day dicks and pussies are just dicks and pussies. It was largely a positive experience.

And if there’s one thing I’ll always remember, it’s that shining beacon of light, reflected off the stainless steel barbell, that was pieced through an old man’s ball skin.




Note to any employers that may run across this article:

Yes, this article may be a bit racy, but know this: Figure drawing is a required class to graduate with a BFA in graphic design. As one cannot aquire a design job without a degree, YOU fair employers, are the ones that caused me to stare, for long periods of time at an old man’s balls…So please don’t fire me.

Christa Weiss

Christa Weiss is the editor & web mistress at Christa performed in the 2014 Boston Comedy Festival and was the February 2014 Comic in Residence at the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, MA. She participated in the inaugural Chicago Women’s Funny Festival, the Women in Comedy Festival, the She Dot Comedy Festival, the North Carolina Comedy Arts Festival, the Cleveland Comedy Festival and is a featured performer on Rooftop Comedy. She produces Broad Appeal Comedy Night, a female-focused comedy show in Boston. She also appears in commercials for the New England Sports Network (NESN).