Nude model explained: How to break down inhibitions
Blanka Walter, 57, has been working as a nude model for 30 years – with openness, humor and without any self-doubt. Here she tells how she breaks down inhibitions – in those who draw her.
When modeling, I try not to make a big deal out of being naked. I walk into the art room in my normal clothes, not in a robe as you might think. I put everything down while the students open their sheets. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking off my jeans and underpants in one wash. I never wear a bra anyway. So I’m naked in a flash, and there is no striptease moment. Then I usually start with a saying: “Well – I welcome you in my work clothes. I can’t even deduct them from your taxes.” You have to empathize with the others and loosen up the situation, especially for the young people. I also go to high school.
It wasn’t always that easy
I didn’t have this sovereignty at all at my premiere 30 years ago: I stood in front of eight older women and the lecturer made suggestions as to how I could stand. I was petrified, sweating because I really wanted to do everything right. In the end, the women actually praised me: “Well done! Great positions!”
I always put a lot of movement into my body when modeling, twisting my chest, looking over my shoulder, weighting one leg more than the other. Keeping that accurate for 40 or 50 minutes is a lot more tiring than standing or sitting symmetrically, but more interesting for the performer.
Blanka, you can pose as a model.
I happened to get the job through an artist couple. The woman gave courses in a school nearby and said: Blanka, you can pose as a model. Without thinking too much, I said yes. I had no idea about art at the time.
The special thing about me: I am not a mute nude model. If you have a person in front of you who is only standing there naked, no one dares to look. So I start a conversation from my pedestal and explain: “Look, which breast is higher than the other.” Or I compare body parts with types of pasta: “Don’t you agree that the pelvis and chest form a farfalle?” I don’t even think about the fact that I’m naked. And the students have no time for a stupid comment. After the lesson, I’ve often heard them say: “I imagined it to be much worse.”
Where’s it from?
I don’t know why I can be open about my nudity. In any case, in our house, everyone always walked around fully dressed. We also didn’t go to the nudist beach or to the sauna. When I was young, I was teased at school because of my height – I’m 1.82 meters – as a beanstalk and was actually a rather shy person. That has changed over the years. Maybe also because I used to work as a cook in a bathing center where nudism was offered three times a week and where I sold suckling pigs, although I was one of the few people who wore clothes. In any case, I am confident and satisfied with my appearance. Point. But my work isn’t about a perfect body either. The artists even prefer it when the model is not slippery. Then it usually has more charisma.
And I don’t care how people draw me. I’m uncomplicated and unpretentious. But there have also been models that got upset because they were too bulky or bulky on paper. Sometimes I even have my students turn me into a 200-kilo woman: “Don’t be afraid! Draw me five belly rings!”
Life drawing is nothing sleazy!
Although life drawing is considered the supreme discipline in art and is a demanding training in perception, as a model you quickly end up in a dirty corner. That’s why I don’t tell everyone about my work straight away. And if they do, I explain to people that every fashion designer, every car designer, every architect and aerospace engineer has to learn life drawing. They can’t draw stick figures for their customers.
Because people keep giving me nudes that they painted of me, I now store a few hundred paintings in my basement. I hung a nude from the back. I can be seen there with my dog. I sometimes have it with me as a little extra.
Blanka Walter not only works as a model, she also gives (dressed!) art courses for adults and children.