Enjoy the past comments below for Tips on paying natural models…
I know whereof you speak Robert. I love to do paintings of little kids playing, mostly in an impressionistic sort of way. And there is a park not far from my home that has some water features the kids play in. But, I’m smart enough to leave my camera and sketch pads in the bag and not record anything. Which is an incredibly sad commentary of the state of things in this country. I guess it’s just as bad in other countries, too.
“I feel indebted to the musicians and have given them a couple of drawings. I’d like to make a portfolio of these sorts of drawings to market further. What would you and other artists do?” I think we need another step to her question. If the artist wants to profit from the recognizable likeness of another person -especially multiples such as a book cover or prints -I think permission is required. Some folks establish their own economic identity with their own face such as a writer, poet, musician or actor. Approach and treat everyone with the same respect? Use a simple model release? This is a golden opportunity to answer basic legal questions that all artists need to know. With many thanks for your forum, Deidre Scherer
Respect is everything. There are some cultures, particularly in the Middle East, that do not wish to see any images at all, and so discourage interlopers for getting/taking them. By our standards of freedom, this may seem harsh and limiting, like the institution of the burkha, but that is what they want and require right now.
The business of charging for photos in Pueblos is out of hand. Acoma and Taos Pueblos are two of the expensive ones that I know of. Ten dollars per photo, monitored, is not uncommon. In some of the Pueblos, it also depends who you meet at the gate.
I’ve painted two Native Americans: one Navajo and one Pueblo. One shunned my attempts to photograph her, the other was indifferent after I paid him (I would gladly have paid him more if I had more cash on me at the time.). I will never sell either painting. First because I like them, and second, I don’t think I should benefit from their heritage and unique persona. To be considered: street photographers don’t obsess about this issue. They snap away and don’t bother asking for disclaimers or paying their subjects. Remember the photo of the GI kissing the nurse on the street when WWII was over? It is an iconic American image and the only beneficiaries were the photographer and Life Magazine. Celebrities and actors’ photos are all over newspapers and the Internet and they aren’t paid either, the photographers are. If anyone should be compensated for their image, those who make their living through their physical presence, it is them. Personalities, Presidents and First Ladies, the famous, all have their image plastered over plates, mugs, dolls, and “limited edition” whatever. I doubt Elvis or Michael Jackson received payment for any of the glut that flooded the market with their images. I once attended a workshop and one of the four paid models was a Native American young woman. I didn’t quite finish my painting and asked if I could take her photo so I could complete it. She refused. That question probably should have been resolved before she agreed to model since there were quite a few images of her at the close of the workshop. That unfinished painting is still in my attic. If a painting is a work you plan to sell you might want to follow Norman Rockwell’s lead and pay standard wage for amateur models. And if all that still bothers you alter the individual’s features enough even he or she wouldn’t recognize themselves if they walked past your painting in a gallery.
After making prints of my drawings I brought them to the owner of the tavern to pass on to the respective players. The tavern owner’s sister said she is good friends with one of the performers and would see to it that my drawings are received by the musicians themselves. The wife of one of the performers asked me what I would charge for the drawing I did. The mother of another young guitarist was so excited about my drawing of her son; I signed it and gave it to him on the spot. My thanks to Deidre Sherer who wrote to me with her suggestion to have a simple model release ready for such occasions. If my subject does not understand my purpose for wanting to draw or photograph then I would ask them to sign the release. But in these instances I believe the musicians understood that their images would become part of my repertoire. I had introduced myself as an artist and they happily gave me the freedom to draw and photograph them.
I’ve found the release scares some people off–they think you stand to make a lot of money from them and get curious and confrontational. Actually, friendship is golden. I frequent the same tavern where I am a known quantity and everyone knows I am harmless (and poor). The owner tells each band “We have our resident sketcher and she is harmless.” This statement attracts them to me.
Sketching from life exposes the vulnerability of both parties. Artists understand this. The rest don’t.
Only certain people have the opportunity to look closely at others–doctors, lovers and artists.
Too bad for them. When I think of the opportunities I have had and the times I have been turned down or given sour looks, I realize many of our cultures are simply not open, and will not accept the friendly, talented hand of appreciation, I weep, because it is not becoming or useful for mankind to be this way. There is no progress in shutting out.
Everyone has the right to try to make a living. What we do not have the right to do is to upset others. Manchester, UK
We have entered “The Age of Communication.” Smash and grab is not appropriate any more.
I like Dennis Weller’s comment: “Only certain people have the opportunity to look closely at others–doctors, lovers and artists.” It reminds me of the wonderful saying ” a cat can look at a king.” But we are not cats, and everyone is a “king” until he or she lets you into the sanctuary of their privacy. Some tribes think of your taking their picture as stealing their soul! “May I?” is a kind thing to ask, in the same way as you might ask if someone else would kindly take YOUR picture (say at a vacation place or whatever.) Sketching musicians at a public market works if you put a bit o’ money in their instrument case. They are there to be part of the “show”, and they hope to get some pocket money out of it. But to paint the customers? Only very sneakily. I would be uncomfortable with someone painting me…and certainly would not assume another person would be automatically glad to be used as a subject. Moving targets are another thing altogether. It’s wonderful to sketch people walking by — you cannot invade their privacy in the few seconds it takes, and it’s the most wonderful practice! Sit on the steps of the courthouse or museum and sketch the folks! You won’t have to ask because they will be moving past you. So would the people in a rodeo or circus or supermarket. Don’t try to paint their kids, though. Nope. Daumier painted people on trains. I wonder if he asked first? Probably not. I’ve tried it and gotten away with it. But only sleeping people. The ones that are awake will catch you looking. You will have to move to another subject if that happens, or you might send the wrong message. Such an interesting question. Here’s another idea: sketch the people on TV! Get an interview going and try to sketch the “talking heads.” It’s great practice.
Some years ago on a train bound for London, I drew many people in the carriage as I normally did and didn’t think anything of it. That evening on the way back home on the train, I continued to be engaged in drawing someone near me when suddenly a large group of people from further down the carriage advanced on me and in a friendly manner asked me if they could look at my drawings. It turned out that they had been in the same carriage on the outward bound trip and had noticed me and they actually got on the same train deliberately! (?!) The whole carriage became engaged. (Extremely unusual for the British!) I gave many of them the sketches, since they were so overwhelmed and appreciative, but actually didn’t want to do so. (This was just before digital images were common). Always torn between wanting to please – not wanting to seem to be an elitist and the need for people not to consider artwork to be cheap or free. On another train occasion – while drawing some people – I was horribly aware of seeing below the surface of their images to their personalities – and I really didn’t like what I saw. It put me off portrait drawing/modelling/painting for a long, long time. Many people tend to be unselfconscious while travelling and not realise how readable they are if observed. Another time, I sketched an extremely ugly woman asleep (I think she must have had some bone deformity) who was dressed in a very old fashioned way and whom I imagined might be someone’s precious secretary who had been with them for 20 years and a wonderful person as well, because there was this amazing light shining through her features. I believe I was right, because when she woke up, her face literally shone with some inner light. I made a sculpture of her head. I certainly didn’t ask for her permission (didn’t even think of it in those days).
A few years ago while I was taking drawing classes at a Craft School, my teacher said that she was putting my name in for court room duty, to draw the accused and others in the trial……I was thrilled that she thought I could do it! (And it was a bit of a sensational trial at the time.) I had managed to catch the likenesses of some of our models and so she felt I had what it took. It was an enormous boost as I felt somewhat unsure of myself. Someone else was chosen, but what a neat opportunity it would have been! To think your drawings would end up in the paper, or perhaps even on TV. Practising on the public would be a good primer for such a job, for sure!
When someone is kind enough to let me take photos of them for painting reference, I try to get their contact information and send them a jpg or small print. Sometimes they have to wait a couple of years but they seem happy to receive it.
Plein Aire sketching is a great way to learn about a community. I do workshops and take a small group out painting the town. One great place to paint is the market, it’s a natural still life and also has lots of people. At one of these outings a student was sitting on the curb doing a watercolor sketch of the market door way when a little boy ran up — peeked over her shoulder — and then ran away. He went home and got his mom to come and look. At that point the mom commissioned her to do her house. A line formed of interested people who wanted a painting of their homes. This was such a confidence boost for this beginner. So rather than focus on people, try action packed buildings such as a market place. The next idea came to me when doing a workshop in Hawaii. I happen to have a very talented Hawaiian daughter in law who dances the hula so we played the game of hold that pose as she danced to the music. We sat around her on the grassy hill overlooking the pacific ocean and felt the breezes and she danced. Each one of the students had the chance to say stop. When that was said she froze in position for about a 3 to 5 minute sketch.. the poses were not contrived.
Painting en plein air is just like life in general. You do not know how people are going to react. If you handle yourself well and treat others with respect and are on the same level with them, then I find they usually are happy to be part of your artistic experience. On the other hand I have been physically threatened twice while painting a scene with no people in it. I live in Hawaii and I do make my living painting. I have found that people can have a bad attitude about making money. I have been threatened a couple of times and had my painting assaulted once. I try to fit into my environment as well as possible.
I found this particularly interesting as I often have trouble taking photographs, feeling sensitive to peoples privacy. I wish I had time to paint more, but then Id have to change my lifestyle and become very selfish.
Because I am innocent, I feel okay about capturing life with photography. A telephoto lens is valuable.
As children in eastern Europe We didnt move into Europe, realize we couldn’t enslave the Europeans, and then engage in a campaign to vilify and kill them, finally physically moving them into ghettos which were mostly in the least inhabitable parts of this country. Never mind that we have still run right over them in the 60s and 70s, when it comes to mineral rights. My husband, as a child, had to sleep with a shotgun under his pillow, because they never knew when the local white community was going to visit and destroy property or try to hurt them in a display of aggression. It’s not “PC” to address ignorance (by that I do NOT mean stupidity). As a woman I don’t actually care what words you use to address me as long as there is some kind of basic civility. My husband, a Lakota, was the same way about being called “chief” or a redskin. You look at the intent. So would you want a stranger to pull up in a car, hand out cokes, and use your children as models? Native parents would be pretty much the same as you in that regard. Maybe in Victorian times As recently as the 1070s, the shootout at Wounded Knee happened largely because the U.S. government, in its quest to integrate Native Americans into white society, forcibly adopted children — like my husband, who had a perfectly good family, and was put into an incredibly abusive white family that was paid to take care of him. We also supported local strong men (thugs) the same way we have propped up people like Saddam Hussein, because they enforced our control of the population. Please read some history. This is not an ancient matter. These days we mostly just resent the Native Americans for not being okay after decades of trying to survive in remote, impoverished places. When my husband came back from Vietnam he faced the double whammy of being a combat vet and being an Indian. When we married, in the 1990s, we encountered equal numbers of people who thought Indians were worse than blacks in intrinsic value, as people who thought he must be magical because he was Indian. He had developed a very compassionate attitude toward all of this, but it was very much there.
Yes dear, it has happened on all continents many times over. The point is that art should help in the war aginst rasism. The more we mix and learn about each other, better the chances…at least I hope so
We formed a drawing group in our area, together we arrange a model ( girl next door, garden worker, grandma or grandchild of one of the artists) everyone in the group pays R20 for the model, which is not much, but together amounts to a nice amount for the model (who is a little flattered to be asked to pose for us any case). Nothing is fixed and every session varies according to circumstances. I coordinate the meetings at different locations, maybe at one of the artists homes or at the models home, whichever is preferred. I also coordinate the way the model poses ex. few short poses for different exercises, and two half hour poses. This is a new experience for most artists in the group who never had the opportunity of a figure drawing class, there is no embarrassment of a nude figure (in itself a wonderful experience), for these sessions we prefer interesting clothing, hats, and other props. There is no embarrassment of bystanders that might cause stage fright. We take pictures as reference for further paintings. We give critique on each others drawings. We have so much fun! It is really recommendable.
Rose Among Silks & Mosaics
watercolour painting by Jocye Popein, BC, Canada
LOVE your drawings!! Wonderful!