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Model bares all for Sewickley drawing class

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Nude model Nykki Yeager will be posing during classes in April at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley.
By Jules Victor
Nude model Nykki Yeager will be posing during classes in April at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley.
Nykki Yeager
By Nicole Bennett
Nykki Yeager

The first time Nykki Yeager posed nude, she was a little nervous, but after posing for more 20 art classes, she said she doesn't even think about it.

Yeager, 25, of Bloomfield, will be modeling for the life-drawing class at Sweetwater Center for the Arts in Sewickley in April as artist Joyce Werwie Perry instructs participants.

Perry, who has been teaching at Sweetwater for about eight years, said it's important for an artist to draw nude models to observe the bones and muscles in the human body and how body weight shifts and capture gestures. It also helps them solve common problems such as foreshortening — when the model extends her limbs out toward the artists; proportions; and body alignment in drawing, she said.

Students will use charcoal, Conté crayon and pencil throughout the lesson. Oil might be introduced in the second class.

Yeager, who has posed as a nude model for about two years, said she started when a friend asked her to go with her to a class at South Arts in Bethel Park so they could earn extra money.

After that, the two women reached out to other galleries and met people along the way who offered them more modeling jobs.

Yeager, originally from Indiana, Pa., makes $20 to $30 an hour.

She said she thought the experience would be nerve-racking.

She soon calmed down, though, with the support of the artists.

“These artists do figure work all the time, and they've seen tons of bodies. They just want to draw a real person. They want to draw you. There's nothing to be shy about,” she said.

Yeager, who has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, said she intends to keep modeling although she recently was hired for a full-time Internet marketing job in the Strip District.

“I enjoy the artist community. I'm an art appreciator. I enjoy being of service to others who want to learn,” said Yeager, who formerly was a singer, a keyboardist and drummer with a band.

Yeager said one of the hardest things about her modeling jobs is when she has to hold a pose for 30 minutes.

“At first, I would do these contorted poses, but I learned that didn't work so well. I learned to create poses that were sustainable. If you're holding a pose that long, you have to make sure it's comfortable. Sometimes you get stiff and sore. It can be tiring,” she said.

Although artists prefer the model not move during those poses, Yeager said, no one gets upset if she has to stretch a little or move her foot.

During the two- to three-hour sessions, she gets a five- to 10-minute break and then goes back to the same 30-minute pose.

Other times, she creates a series of short poses she holds for only 30 seconds each, and sometimes, the director of the class will work with her to create the poses.

For those who are thinking about enrolling in the class for the first time, Yeager said, from what she has overhead the artists say, the skills they pick up in the class are beneficial for other subject matter, such as still-life pieces.

“It's a fun time,” she said.

This is the first time Perry has taught the class at Sweetwater, although she has had a few similar classes at her art studio, le Poire in Crafton.

“I thought it went great, and I wanted to do more of it,” she said.

When her art students at Sweetwater requested such a class, she jumped at the chance. Perry said because the model poses in so many different ways, all the drawings are different.

“They would be anyway because each artist puts a little of themselves into their drawing,” she said.

Perry said her advice to those who have never sketched a nude model before is to “just relax and consider the drawing an exercise, not a masterpiece.

“Just enjoy it,” she said.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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