Drawing class teaches about art, life


Justin Brown

Maggie Thomas, a bio pre-med major poses while senior sociology major Kian Gaines draws her in Professor Jenny Chi’s advanced drawing class in the Doudna Fine Arts Center. Thomas said she enjoys the opportunity to model because it allows her to help others to study.

Chaela Krueger, Contributing Writer


When senior psychology major Fallyn Schwake walked into a Life Drawing class her freshman year, she saw an image she might never forget.

“At first, I was completely shocked,” Schwake said, as she remembered seeing the nude models used in the class for the first time. “But I was instantly intrigued by everyone’s coolness with it.”

Though drawing a naked body was never her intention, she now considers this class one of her favorites.

Alex Harper, a junior geology major, is one of the models students like Schwake draw in art professor Jenny Chi’s class.

“It’s very non-sexual, and it’s a total confidence booster,” Harper said.

A few people think it is strange. However, Harper said most of his family and peers find what he does interesting and brave.

“It makes me less self-conscious, and it’s an almost meditative process,” he said.

Harper first heard about the job through a friend who previously had a positive modeling experience.

To prepare for work, he usually takes a shower so he is clean and focused for the task.  Once he arrives, Harper gets undressed behind a curtain and puts on something to cover up. He then walks to his platform, takes off his cloak and gets put into position.

Harper has to stay in one position for the entire class, either sitting, standing or lying down for two and a half hours, taking breaks about every 20 minutes to rest.

Harper will be in one pose for two weeks, then Chi will mold him into another pose for the next couple weeks.

The positions are supposed to be more relaxed, but Harper said his back still gets a little sore.

While Harper has a few friends in the class, he does not get embarrassed being naked in front of them.

He said he looks forward to seeing the students’ finished work because everyone has a different idea of what they think is captivating and beautiful about his body.

“It’s like looking in the mirror, but everyone draws you a little different,” Harper said.

Modeling for the class has made Harper more comfortable in his own skin. He enjoys being a patron of the arts and a “tool of expression.”

Harper was so interested in one student’s portrait he decided to buy it for $150.

In the advanced level class, he said a drawing can be sold anywhere from $50 to $200.

To be selected as a model for this class, it is required to observe a class session, do a trial run and finally, fill out an application. Then, Chi decides who to hire.

She looks for models who show an interest in the arts, not just people who want the job because they are fascinated with the idea of having the “model” title.

Chi has been teaching Life Drawing for 14 years at Eastern. Not once has a student dropped out because of its difficulty or the fact that they have to see and draw a naked body.

Chi said students usually know coming into this class that she is a tough teacher. However, the majority of students who are successful in the class find it to be rewarding and beneficial when done, she said.

“I would be nothing without Professor Chi,” Schwake, an advanced level student, said.

There is a valuable purpose as to why the class is taught, Chi said.

The majority of people in today’s society do not respect the human body the way they did hundreds of years ago, she said, when the body was viewed more aesthetically; a sign of health, beauty and strength.

Chi said she is trying to revive the lost tradition of figurative art, which is a high art that peaked during the Renaissance Era.

The students and models adapt quickly when they learn the true nature of why they are participating in the process, Chi said.

“People say it takes seven years for a doctor to master his trade, but it takes 10 years for figurative drawing,” she said.


Chaela Krueger can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].