Life drawing offers unique experience for model and artist

Scott Koza sits on a stool in the corner of the room, completely still. He’s wearing only his socks and his briefs. It would be some time before he spoke; he was busy posing.

“I’m an observer,” he said. “When you’re naked and you stare at people, no one will ever question it.”

Koza’s work posing gives art students at Centennial College’s Story Arts Centre a chance to learn life drawing. David McClyment, a Centennial fine arts teacher, leads the course.

“(Life drawing is) code for drawing people naked.”

McClyment explained that life drawing helps artists sharpen their hand-eye co-ordination by drawing a model who is posing in front of them.

Scott Koza, 27, modelled for the first time when he was 17 because the original model didn’t show up.

“It was completely terrifying,” he recalled. “I was super red. … It was embarrassing.”

He pointed out that most people who become life models are artists themselves or dancers or musicians who become comfortable with it after repeat sessions. Koza was a fine arts student himself for five years and did life modelling part-time to help pay for school.

He admitted that at first he was very conscious of his body and curious as to what he looked like to other people. Becoming comfortable with one’s body is a “process” he explained.

“(It’s) super liberating,” he said. “Just learning to love yourself and really accept your body.”

McClyment recognizes the intensive effort required for modelling.

“What most people don’t recognize is that it’s rigorously physical and rigorously mental,” he said.

“If I work three classes, that’s like nine hours of yoga Pilates a day,” Koza said. “I learned more in two years of full-time modeling than I ever did in four years of art school.”

McClyment thinks that life-drawing studios can also help artists retreat into their own minds. He described it as “totally Zen,” and said that it allows artists to “draw like no one’s looking.”

McClyment organizes a weekly life-drawing studio at Centennial that’s open to the public. He said students enjoy open drawing because there’s no evaluation.

“The hardest thing about drawing is turning your brain off,” he said.