Ferns & Rust, Brambles & Mist

I had a spontaneous shoot outside recently with beginner photographer ‘BG’. I felt inspired by the wintry-brown ferns, some colourful brambles and the joy of the fresh (bracing) air. These photos were actually taken on my mobile phone, and I lightly processed them (by which i mean added some colour toning, occasional cropping and slight vignettes) myself. They’re dark, moody and… well, brambly.

Here are some of my favourites, though there were so many – sometimes everything just falls together.

What do you think?

Pink wall & swinging portraits

I loved shooting with photographer ‘SEETHEEYES’ in Studio88 recently. It was a fun and fruitful session, and we both really enjoyed ourselves.

Not that you’d know it, but for some of these portraits I was precariously balanced on a swing.

Here are some of the results…

I was quite pleased with my make shift outfit (in this ‘pink wall’ set), comprised only of two pieces of fabric, carefully positioned + some accessories. 🙂

Portrait artist

These are just some of the portraits taken on a recent shoot with Jeff Wilson, in a beautiful, historical outdoor location here in Oxfordshire.

There are so many things I want to say here, but my mind has gone blank from the overwhelm of different possibilities, so I’ll stick (briefly) to the here and the now: I write this with a green smoothie (of true pond sludge-esque proportions) to my left, with my hair hanging in wet strings post walk-and-shower, and with a desire to cultivate peace in myself today. On my walk I listened to the beginning of ‘The Ruthless Elimimation of Hurry: How to stay emotionally healthy and spiritually alive in the chaos of the modern world’ by John Mark Comer and wonder if you might like it too.

The earrings are pressed, dried bluebells, a gift from Eva Gifted Hands. (I want all her jewellery!)

Shooting with Jeff is always a total antidote to the rush of multi-dimensional living, running a small business and balancing all else; it’s a slow move from tree to tree, or 15th century wall to door, with a flurry of different angles and plays with light and lens. (Then the quick, skillful-if-I-do-say-so-myself dash to get changed from head-to-toe in a public area, pausing behind the largest tree in my vicinity).

I’m including some smiles here, for fun… And because it was fun.

Never hesitate to send me a message if you’d like to practise your photography or art on a willing, creative-minded victim. 🙂

Film on the beach

I had a lovely shoot recently with a photographer Tobias Key at one of my favourite nearest beaches, West Wittering. Oxford is possibly the furthest one can be from a beach in England (I’m sure someone will correct me on this, though), and I always feel on some soul level as though I’ve been let out of prison whenever I see the sea. #pisces #ilovewoodlandtoothough

We had an Indian summer, and although it was late September, it was surprisingly hot and the sun was direct and harsh. The wind threatened to topple over Toby’s stands (and all else) but we battled heroically through, frequently changing our position and trying to work out how I could pose without squinting TOO badly… I absolutely love the feeling of being by the water – it’s always magical to me and I never get bored of it.

As we all know, film photography has its own power and allure, and produces images which seem – to me – to have a different kind of depth than digital images (as wonderful as they are). Although I’ve modelled for many different types of art and photography process over the years, it’s always fun and mysterious, nevertheless. I was impressed with Toby’s confidence and expertise even in sub-optimal photographic/weather conditions! Did I mention the tripod-sinking-into-the-sand problem? I’m sure some of you are familiar with that.

How have you all been? I’ve been updating regularly over on the ol’ insta (you’re following me there, yes?), and working hard on my main business (look no further for Christmas presents or gifts to yourself steeped in natural plant abundance), while loving modelling here and there regularly too.

I’m also writing a book about my decade (and longer) experience of posing as a nude model; a mix of secrets, confessions, really deep dives into how I really feel about everything, and some tips and things I’ve learned along the way. I’ll let you know when it’s finished!

I’m not going to promise to regularly update my blog again (some of you might remember when I updated it multiple times a week for years!!), but I also…. might. There’s something special about taking the time to honour a photoshoot with a display of multiple images and the story behind them, rather than just show one image or possibly two. I’m so grateful for all the images I am sent by those I work with, and for being allowed to share them – I could probably blog for years before showing them all off, even without doing another shoot (though, don’t worry, I’m still happily modelling for now)! 🙂

Have a glorious day.

Ella

7 sculptures in bronze: Rebellion, Abandon, Liberty…

Although I’ve posed for a multitude of photographers and artists all over the world, I can count on one hand the number of sculptors I’ve modelled for. I’m happy to say I managed to squeeze in just such an experience just before Covid-19 flew into the world and disrupted things (including my modelling tour to the US and Canada in May/June!). Modelling for a sculptor is a fascinating and satisfying thing to do, and one I’ve enjoyed reflecting on.

Read on for my ponderings on this somewhat unusual way to pass the time, and to view the results…

Nude Emergence torso DSC_2822

When Hamish Mackie originally contacted me, I was impressed by his body of work and intrigued by what we might come up with together. Meeting for an initial photography session, the aim of which was to brainstorm ideas for poses together, his enthusiasm, natural ability and obvious love for what he does filled me with confidence that this would be a fun collaboration. 

Modelling for sculptures — ones which, like Hamish’s, aim to be life-like and authentic — is a strange psychological journey. It starts with curiosity (what will it end up looking like? What do I look like? Am I going to get really bored standing in the same position for ages? Is this the first step towards my immortality?), then travels through physical discomfort (the human body is not designed to stay still for long periods of time and the simplest of poses can become quickly unbearable – thank God for Hamish’s excellent idea to keep moving between the various sculptures/positions to avoid limb deadness, and for music and conversation; meanwhile, it turns out that bronze patination gas torches make excellent heaters!).

Nude Study all three DSC_2044

Next come confrontation with oneself (having seen thousands of nude photographs or paintings of my own body is not the same as standing next to a clay cast of it in 3D form, which can be viewed from all possible angles, nothing hidden) and, ultimately, acceptance (my leg or my stomach does this thing, but that’s OK and maybe even beautiful; how interesting that the muscles and flesh across the back are so involved and affected by the most innocuous of arm raises).

Nude Study Seated DSC_3542

It’s precisely this interest in anatomy which seems to so fire up Hamish’s imagination — you can see it in his careful and vivid studies of deer, lions and birds, all of which are jaw-droppingly arresting ‘in the flesh’ (their subjects, however, presumably far less prone to stand still or, for that matter, demand tea breaks). He is not interested in merely imagining what a body, human or otherwise, will do in a certain position, or in making it up — he strives to get it right (true to life), and it is this meticulousness which means he has no qualms about chopping off my bottom halfway through the penultimate session, when he realises it’s in need of some slight relocation.

Nude RebellionDSC_3629 (1)

Below are a few ‘behind the scenes’ reference photos which Hamish took for study purposes, though the vast majority of the work was completed with me physically in front of him over a series of days:

When I arrived at our first proper session, after the initial photography, Hamish’s studio was decked in life-sized, printed photographs of myself holding the various poses he’d chosen to pursue in clay and then bronze — you can imagine the surreality of entering such a den. For these photographs, I’d held individual positions — ones we thought could work well — on a turntable which was rotated in small increments for the lens. Measurements were taken and confirmed (the distance from my armpit to my elbow, from shoulder to shoulder, from thigh to ground; several ratios involving my belly button; the circumference of an arm…), and by the time our diaries aligned for us to begin the first ‘proper’ session, with actual clay involved, Hamish had, amazingly, already fashioned the armatures ready to support the sculptures. These rough structures would give him a headstart in the game of layering, loading and refinement (perhaps these are not the technical terms for the work of sculpting, which largely remains a mystery to me even though I was there for every second of it; for one thing I can’t quite decide if it is an art or a science — I suspect it is both).

Nude Study Liberty DSC_3570Nude Study Liberty DSC_3566

One thing I know: sculpture involves lots of knife work. Knives are strewn about the studio, and parts of my anatomy are abruptly chopped off and pasted on, smoothed by thumbs or left with rough texture which might later tell of re-thought or of gusto. It is difficult not to wince when watching your emerging doppelgänger’s shoulder being stabbed or refigured; perhaps modelling for sculptures is not for the very squeamish. Perhaps it’s also not for the very vain. I can’t overstate this: the physical, faithful manifestation of yourself, next to your actual living self, is a bizarre thing to witness. You become at times possessive over the piece and at other times disassociate from it. Sometimes the lump of clay is ‘I’ and ‘my neck’, and other times it is ‘She’ and ‘her torso’.

clay model of nude female for figurative sculpture

Nude Rebellion DSC_3625

At all times, I was deeply impressed with how easy Hamish made the process appear to be. As if by magic, seven individual pieces emerged which looked undeniably like me, and of which I’m very proud. They each have different moods and personalities and, therefore, changing, possible titles spun in both of our minds as they were created; all of them felt empowering, strong and positive. I enjoyed the feeling of teamwork as we went along; being a model can seem, or be imagined to be, a very passive role, but it is my opinion that a good model brings something to the table beyond an incidental physicality, and that the best artists are collaborative as well as open to exploration within the form.

Nude Model in Studio DSC_1972

Nude Model in Studio DSC_3696

Hamish’s seven nude studies are Torso Life SizeEmergence TorsoRebellionLibertyAbandonComposedModel in Studio Relief which can all be shipped worldwide directly from his studio.

Nude Torso Life Size 2020 DSC_2944

Nude Study Abandon DSC_3580

Nude Torso Life size DSC_2446Nude Torso Life Size 2020 DSC_2546

three nude figurative sculptures in bronze

If you’d like to enquire about a sculpture or arrange a studio visit, give Hamish a ring.  +44 (0) 7971 028 098 / +44 (0) 1608 737 859. If you’d like to be put on his mailing list to receive one of hisr new catalogues later in the year, sign up on the contact page.

Swords & Stares

You might not want to mess with me after seeing my ‘Judith’ side… (It’s been put into commission a couple of times recently!) Yes, even someone as serene & pacifist as me can quite enjoy wielding a sword, now and then…

Thought I’d share a few photos from a shoot in June with Ross of Posbrook Pics. I really enjoyed working with him, and how he took his time to get the results he was after. He came with a theme in mind (Judith of biblical fame; as wiki tells us: ‘She uses her charm to become an intimate friend of Holofernes, but finally beheads him allowing Israel to counter-attack the Assyrians’) and then we did a bit of extra experimentation at the end for some classical nudes.

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