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Posing Nude, Part Deux

By January 27, 2010January 30th, 2010How To

for Part 1, which really should be read first, click here

Naked as the day I was born…

Last night I received a compliment that was dressed in sheep’s clothing. I dare say it was the best backhanded flattery I’ve ever received. I had asked Traeger if the models they usually use are real (as in, gorgeous and ‘perfect’) models, because I don’t quite fit that mold (as in, I’m as tall as Heidi Klum’s left leg).

He answered, “Not really.” And then he said, “Actually, you’re too good looking and your body is too beautiful for this – I like to draw people that are filled with imperfections, it’s much more interesting. You’re going to be kind of boring.” Got it. I’ll take it. And, thank you.

Oh, and the answer to my last question? Yes, they really did expect me to get completely naked.

Vodka and atmosphere will get you far…

I’m not going to lie. Before I arrived at the nude modeling gig in question, I had two shots of vodka. On an empty stomach. And I’m kind of a lightweight.

And, wouldn’t you know, it helped. It also helped that all of the artists (even the famous ones) were incredibly sweet. I’m reading The Tipping Point (yes, I’m late to that party) – and I’m at the part right now about context and its massive influence on behavior. I witnessed this truth last night when everyone around me was so relaxed, the environment so warm and safe that I couldn’t help but feel that way too. It took me immediately from, am I really doing this? to Ohhhh…this isn’t scary, this is ART.

Being seen…

The truth, though, is that when I first considered posing, actually being naked and letting people dissect me with their charcoal and paints and pens, I was concerned. I mean, would the lights be bright? Would would I look like to them? Would it be unseemly? I couldn’t imagine being so exposed and I couldn’t imagine what they would see.

The moment of truth was the moment of taking off my clothes and stepping into the lights. I channeled Bull Durham: don’t think, just throw; don’t. think. just. throw. And it worked (so did the vodka). But then came something I hadn’t expected – I had to perform.

The first thing they had me do were one minute poses where I was told to contort my body in ways that I couldn’t hold for very long so ‘we’ could all warm up. Ahhh…I knew that I did over 500 hours of yoga teacher training for a reason. I did eagle pose, I did twists, I did all kinds of things.

It was actually harder to invent and find the next pose than it was to be naked. Interesting factoid. Ohhhh, maybe that was what they meant by warming me up.

Absorption & the love of writing…

Eventually, we moved on to the longer poses and then they wanted me to bring out my laptop which for me was a solid lifeline to my world. It was performance art, if you will. I tweeted, I worked on this post, I sent emails.

Yesterday morning, I became so absorbed in my work that it wasn’t until a client emailed me and remarked on the gorgeous weather that I shockingly realized it was no longer raining. And so immersed was I last night in my writing that, once again, I was able to completely forget my surroundings; in this case, that there were 7 people staring at me while I sat in front of them completely naked.

This sent me a clear and bright message. About me and about how much I love to write, how much I love what I do. How I picked the right thing.

And getting to see…

And then, we took a break. I have to tell you that any fear or trepidation that I had left completely disappeared when I looked at the artwork these brilliant and good people had produced. Some of the images look like me, some of them do not. But I get that they only don‘t according to me. They do according to these artists – they captured what they saw and that is entirely real and true.

And this is how it is for us as writers. We have a clear view, we write and describe and explore. Some people ‘see’ what we see, some people see something entirely different. It’s all true. And it makes us all very rich.

It is an extraordinary thing to see your self reflected in the eyes of another. It is.


But it is formidable to see yourself reflected in your own eyes.

There are some things that I decidedly did NOT do last night:

  • I never said one negative thing about my body
  • I didn’t make excuses
  • I didn’t go on and on about my fears or insecurities
  • I didn’t grab for any extra attention (cough, cough, there was enough)

Some of you will see that this is momentous. That a 36 year-old woman who has birthed one child and nursed two and grown up in this here culture could do this. Just say, yep this is me, let’s do this thing! The rewards were enormous.

To know that I saw a challenge, that I was invited to catapult myself out of my comfort zone, that I was going to throw caution to the wind and scare the shit out of myself and do it anyway.

It was extraordinary.


Below, you’ll find some of the pieces from last night. I’ve posted them here for a few reasons:

  1. …because it is another extension of my commitment to being seen and stretching myself and being me.
  2. …because I’m doing it for Womankind.
  3. …because these artists are so insanely gifted and I want to share them and their work with you. I’ve also listed their websites which I encourage you to explore. Remember last night was practice for them, these sites hold their finished work and showcase their true talents.

I’m not posting these images:

  1. …so that you’ll pump my self-esteem, stroke my ego or otherwise tell me that I look good or bad. It’s really not about that. I’m not asking for it, I don’t want it and I don’t need it. It’s about the experience and the art. Remember, these are artist renderings done in 20 minute spots – for all you know, this isn’t even what I really look like! Thanks in advance for donning your art lenses as you peruse.

Steve Lohman


Omar Rayyan


Nina Lisa Maria


Frank Brunelle


Sheila Rayyan


Omar Rayyan

Artist websites

Omar Rayyan:

Steve Lohman: (FYI, Steve’s wire sculptures are all over the globe (and in the Guggenheim) and the photo above does not do that piece (or the other 2 he created magnificently in minutes) justice.)

Sheila Rayyan:

Nina Lisa Maria:

Jennifer Strachan: (Jennifer’s work isn’t above, but her mosaics were all over the studio last night. They are INCREDIBLE.)

Traeger dePietro: (Whose inspired idea this was in the first place. Thanks babe.)

Join the discussion 35 Comments

  • Mike Carr says:

    Those pieces are just absolutely amazing. You certainly found a good group of artists. Welcome to the club!

  • Carolyn Lawson Low says:

    Bravo – to you and the artists. Thank you – on behalf of womankind and fearlessness.

  • Fantastic event for you, beautiful memories of the event in the form of the drawings and sculpture, and fantastic art.
    Catharsis is a good thing.

  • This was a terrific set of posts.
    You are a brave person!

  • Joanne Sardini says:

    You are one truly amazing woman! Thank you!!

  • Good for you! The best part for me is your list of things you did NOT do, what tethers those things are for so many of us.

    And you enabled some gorgeous art!

  • It is very impressive that you found the fortitude to pose and very interesting to read about your mind as you went through it. The art is amazing, I especially like the wire sculpture. I hope you are excited to be immortalized through the lenses of those artists. You are incredibly brave to put yourself out there and push the limits of your own comfort.

  • Ed says:

    AS I said yesterday…it is art, not pornography. You have made a significant contribution to the world of art. Congratulations.

  • LeAnn says:

    You are so brave, and the results are beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Julie Roads says:

    Just wanted to pop in and say thank you for these perfect comments. I love when you all do what I say. Really, thank you. I promise to do the same for you when you put up nude artist renderings of yourselves on your own sites.

  • Jen Halloran says:

    You GO, girlfriend! Absolutely love the results (agree with Justin — the wire version is SO cool and provides a great “wired” tie-in with your computer).

    “Brave” “fearless” “fortitude” — can’t say it any better. Thanks for sharing this (entire) ride with us.

  • Julie Roads says:

    About Steve’s wire work. He actually made three sculptures last night – the one you see, one of me lying on my stomach (see Omar’s first painting) and one of me with my leg crossed (see Sheila’s painting). They were all amazing. He is AMAZING.

  • Chris says:

    I started modeling in college years ago to make extra money and have done it off and on since then (last Monday in fact). It is MUCH harder work than anyone who has never done it realizes – until THEY try sitting rock steady for 20 minutes in ANY position and then they get it.

    And I now have the body that your friend likes to draw…

  • Julie Roads says:

    LOL – too funny, Chris. I will tell you that it was really hard, but I was told that I did a great job. I really did use my yoga training where we’re taught to hold poses through discomfort with the breath and by making tiny micro-movements that no one else can really even see.

    Thanks for sharing…

  • Susan Gibbs says:

    Julie, I am in awe of your bravery! In addition to being a friend that is always supportive and kind, the way you live your life inspires me to step outside my own comfort zone and try new things.

  • Bert Jackson says:

    All of the art is beautiful, but the wire piece is stunning. I appreciate the story behind what was obviously a brave act of stepping outside one’s self. There are metaphors everywhere. Most of us are afraid to expose our true selves and let others see and interpret the beauty that is within us. Thanks for sharing this in such a positive way.

  • Tomma says:

    Hi Julie
    Wonderful, how you were able to get outside your comfort zone and write about it. I, too, am trying to do that more. I think when one gets too comfortable with certain routines or styles, one restricts oneself from trying and experiencing new and different things. And you have managed to overcome that and to write so wonderfully about the experience. And in the process you have contributed to the greater good, the world of art!
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Andi says:

    The pieces are gorgeous, as they could only be with you as the subject. Took a lot of guts…very proud of you!

  • I love how you exposed yourself spiritually through this process. What an interesting experience. Thank you for sharing it.

  • I’m fascinated by the whole process… and i love the connection to being so in the moment with your writing..
    thank you for sending a message to those of us who might have discomfort in being seen nude! I don’t know that I could have done that, vodka or not

  • Van says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. As the “Rare” artist/writer combination; I’m so, so inspired. I love how it teaches us to step outside the comfort zones- just look at the beauty produced from doing so! I have body issues, I’d never be brave enough to sit nude in front of artists. But this encourages me to get over it and brave the world without insecurities or apologies.

  • Julie Roads says:

    Van! I would say that just by commenting, by writing what you did, you’ve already been very, very brave. Thanks for adding your words here.

  • Catscooking says:

    I love this post, you are a pioneer. I think you are very brave and daring. The drawings are great, something to look back and enjoy. I remembered when I went to Mexico on my honeymoon and took my top off-very unlike me at the time-I felt so free and at home. I am glad I did not shy away and stopped myself from doing it. Now, I don’t only have the memory but the pictures to prove it.

    Well done Julie.

    I second Van’s comment.

  • Nina says:

    Thank YOU Julie for modeling, a great debut! We could not have done it without you, and your positive attitude and sparkling personality made it really fun. Not to mention our own big jug o’ Carlo Rossi red red wine ;)

    Keep the creative juices flowing… it’s how we get through winter on Martha’s Vineyard…

  • Sheila says:

    I second what Nina said above- you did a great job for your first time.
    It’s fun reading about the experience from the “other” side!


    ps- can you fix our link to be:

  • Moni says:

    Brava woman! I applaud you for not only doing it, but for sharing the finished work with the world. Each piece looks amazing, and it was a great concept. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • Avinash says:

    Takes a lot of courage.

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