with Derek Batty

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Modelling for Art Life Drawing Classes with Derek Batty

Take some time to read this page, you might like to print it out.  Then send me an email with some information about yourself and a photo.  Try filling in the application form here.  

Modelling is an interesting and rewarding experience. You get to see drawings of yourself and you find your self-esteem enhanced. More than that I really need you!  If you are local to Cambridge you could model for me individually or for my artist groups. There is lots of information here and I keep adding to it - so print it out and keep checking back!† 

Do you use male models too?
Yes.  Men are much in demand and are sometimes more difficult to recruit.  You do not need to have the body of a weight-lifter.  Just be reasonably active and enjoy showing yourself off.

Can I meet you first?
Yes, excellent idea, but I will only consider meeting you once I have your application form.   Arrange a time to visit me during the break in a class.  Or make a time to visit my studio in Kings Hedges.

I am too nervous!
It is natural to be nervous, especially at first.  But everyone is very supportive.  We value your work very highly.  Sometimes people are worried about being recognised!  For students one bonus about the class is that we are almost in a different world from the University.  So it is something of a relaxing break for you with real people.  Whatever your background we really respect your modelling for us and give you every support and encouragement.   There are sometimes  personal worries particular to men and women. (Men can be worried about getting erections and women can worry about their periods.)   It can be helpful to visit a class, then to model for an individual artist or to model first for a portrait.  Many issues are discussed in the Figure Drawing Group (a wonderful resource but perhaps not now accessible without a sign up).  There are discussions on just about every conceivable topic connected with modelling.  Peter's Nudist Site also has an excellent page on the first experience as a model. Alasdair Pal modelled for us and reported for The Tab here.  Heathcote has also commented about modelling as reported in The Herald.

What makes a good model?
Local to Cambridge (within 5 miles of the city centre or along the guided bus route) 
Able to hold a pose 
All shapes and sizes 
Easy going, relaxed and good humoured 
Reliable and on time: keep a diary 
Physically fit and active 
Willing to try different poses 
Clean and tidy. For men: clean shaven, or at least well trimmed!.
Natural hair, minimal makeup, if any
Access to  a bicycle to get to classes
Available during class times.

And, if you can do it: 
Exercise and keep fit to give tone to your muscles 
Stand for a longer pose 
Use your imagination to interpret ideas through body positions: e.g. tortured, collapsing, stretching 
Bring specialist knowledge,  for example,  classical ballet, field athletics, karate, boxing, interpretative dance or gymnastics.
Change your hair style occasionally, wear different clothes, offer to bring in sports or musical instruments.

Getting started
There is always a private area where you undress. Wear a gown or long T shirt to walk from your changing area to the set; although some models are happy to be nude all the time - whatever you are comfortable with. The class is grouped in a circle around the set where you model. There are drapes, comfortable seating and heaters.

Short poses
The class will be ready to start as soon as you come onto the set. I will give you full guidance. The first poses are usually one, two or three minutes long. Iíll ask you to take up positions which you can only hold for a short time, trying to ensure varied views from all positions in the room.

Where else can I get modelling work?   
Many people write to me  wanting  information, contacts and suggestions for finding modelling work in their area.  Unless you are in Cambridge or very close by I cannot offer any specific guidance.  In London contact the lovely people at  London Drawing and possibly the Register of Art Models (RAM).  Elsewhere anyone advertising Life Drawing classes will be pleased to hear from you.  Go to your local library and ask about life drawing classes in schools and local colleges.  

Check out art shops.  Groups are often advertised there and the shop staff may know of contacts.  Alternatively ask if you could put up your own advertisement.  There are regular groups in Grantchester and Huntingdon who recruit models from my classes.

Colleges and schools often need models:  ring them up and leave your telephone number.  Additionally get the name of a contact and write in with your details.  I find it very helpful to have details of height, weight, hair style and colour, age, activities you do and where you are based.   This is because I like to employ a variety of people.  Some tutors and artists only use female models.    

You could also try contacting artists direct.  For Cambridge look in  the Cambridge OPEN studios booklet.  In the States models are also apparently used for medical demonstrations - look at the  Figure Drawing Group mentioned below. 

Other places you could try.

Do you publish models' contact details?
No, I do not give out models' contact details.  If you are here looking for a model either privately or for a group I will consider forwarding your information to my models.  Send me full details including pay, venue and times required. 

Life drawing class from 1715

What kind of poses shall I do?
In the quick sketches it is good to have frozen action - dynamic positions you can hold for just a minute or two.  For the longer drawing (one hour) you need something more comfortable, although with breaks most poses are possible.   Anything goes, and the more energy you put into your work the more you will be appreciated.   We are not necessarily seeking 'natural' positions - sports photography shows the figure in all kinds of contortions and  your actions can add to the expressiveness of our art.  A key method in getting an interesting pose is for your shoulders to be turned in relation to your hips. At the end of the session students combine to give you an extra tip as a reward for your efforts. 

Poses are set in various ways:  
Sometimes a student will suggest an idea - perhaps they are working on a picture and need specific figure reference.  Or we might copy a position from a painting or sculpture.  Or you might be able to interpret themes like 'Spring' and 'Autumn'.
In the quick sketches I ask you to move from one pose to the next without a break.  In the quick poses you move your feet round each time so that different people have a back view.   I might  ask you to begin curled up and then, with each successive drawing, to gradually stand up and open out.  You need have no worries about lacking ideas for poses!  I will give you full guidance and ensure that you are able to give your best. Your well being takes priority. 

When do I get paid?
You are paid in cash at the end of the class which I ask you to sign for.  You should declare this if you are eligible to pay tax.  Your basic pay is £20 per hour (September 2022) but the class make an additional contribution on top of that by putting coins into a collection tin for you. Typically you will earn around £60 - £65 for a class. Payment is confirmed with you at the time of booking.

What do I do next?
Send me an email with some information about yourself.  Try accessing my Application for Models. Fill this out and send it to me as an attachment.  (If that is too tricky then just send me an email with same information.)

Then we can arrange to meet up:  during the break in one of my classes, at my house / studio or at my Open Studio in July.  

I sometimes get a number of modelling enquiries all at once, particularly in October.  It is very helpful to have a description of yourself and a simple face picture. Details of your location, height, weight, age, hair style, availability and mobile number - all help to give  emphasis to your enquiry. 

Photography is not permitted in the classes. But my artists are serious in their work and often would really like to take a photograph to support their work outside of the class. You can let me know on your application if you will consider this and then individuals might occasionally ask your permission for a photo.  Needless to say these are not published but are for individual use only.  Additionally you might like a photo for yourself so you could give me your phone and I will take some for you -  to delete later or keep as a souvenir!  Many models like to take photos of their drawings at the end of a session and our artists are most happy for you to do so.

What happens after I receive your application?
I usually check your location and availability immediately to see if there is anything I can offer you right now.    I might consider whether I have special classes which might be particularly suitable for you;  for example bony, skinny types for my occasional anatomy-themed groups, or striking features for a portrait.   I try to reply positively within a week or so but it may be a bit longer at busy times.

Unfortunately I cannot use models who are more than five miles outside of Cambridge centre.  I do not use models beyond Cambridge. The main train station is too remote from the class and Cambridge North is a 40 minute walk; and weather and traffic conditions are too unpredictable.  (However I might consider you if you live along the guided bus route.)  

More computer-wise models could set up a simple web page with their details and a photo. Or even easier would be to contact me via Facebook.

If you have read this far then maybe you might like a few tips on making the best impression with your application?  It can be very difficult for me sorting through, especially if I get a rush of enquiries all at once, and even more so when I have a fairly good number of people already.  Ideally I only want to be employing six female and six male models at one time.  I like to get to know you so that you become comfortable and experienced in the class. 

How do you get my attention?  Make life easy for me!  
Have a nice, simple head photo attached to your application.  (No makeup, not even the men.)
Write enough, but not too much.  
Study the current class times and locations. 
Be available during some daytimes (currently Wednesday mornings). 
Send a reminder that you are still interested.

Additionally (and ridiculously) small things can inadvertently go against you, such as not attaching a photo, or a photo with bright red lipstick, or asking me to search elsewhere for it on facebook or instagram. Additionally using initials or pseudonyms in your email address, eg or; having a dual gender name and not saying whether you are m or f  (yes, I know, I know), changing the fonts; using too small a font and applying weird colours or using a format which does not present the information easily can all trip me up in confusion.  I know, it is ridiculous.  But you have read this far and I want you to do the best you can!


Hope to hear from you!  My email address can be seen below.

Last updated 28-09-2022