Hanna, the model I have been working with for the last several months, is moving on. It's a sad day - it brings to an end this part of the project - and yet a good one as well, since whenever a friend decides to spread their wings a little wider one can only feel glad.
Too often the contribution of great models is overlooked, particularly by those of us who wish to go beyond painting the figure as a can of beans and into portraying the person. Not the person as the photograph might snap it, not the person as some abstract floaty splooged object, but the person as a living, vibrant, human being as one sees her. I remember Hanna commenting on one of Schiele's better pictures that she felt - despite the abstractness of it - that it was as if the subject was there, just on the other side of the paper. Like Goya's caption, "I saw this." I think we should aim no lower.
But it takes a very brave model to engage in this sort of task; there's a lot more on display than just skin, light, or academic forms. It is in a sense exposure to the world of an intensely personal core; even clothed, the model is far more naked than the classical nude. And the difficulty is much more for the model than for the artist, the very worst I can do is display some drawing or painting errors.
For myself, these last few months have been a great period for artistic growth for which I owe Hanna a real debt of gratitude. I think of it especially when drawing others, like my neighbor's son, or the model we had this morning. Though it's time to move on, there's lots of good stuff that remains.
There will be a few more Hanna pictures; during the last six weeks in particular, when we were working together four or five days a week, I've built up an enormous backlog of rough sketches and drawings. And there's still two on the easel to finish.
But she'll still be missed. Even by Shorty (though he'll be glad to have his couch back, and he definitely won't miss the brushing).