The naked truth

Times Staff Writer

Even in stillness, says model Jose Fernando Artiga, to pose nude before the artist is to dance with a new partner. The interplay is poetic and fluid -- at times, mysterious, he says. No words are spoken, yet stories unfold.

The relationship between model and artist is fundamental in art history and in the development of the artist, says painter David Schoffman. It is based on a silent language expressed in the work of such masters as Michelangelo, Renoir, Leonardo da Vinci. And, now, the relationship is served up with cocktails and tapas. At 6 p.m.

Oct. 4, for $20 ($25 at the door), the public can watch eight artists, including Schoffman, at work with three models, including Artiga, at DCA Fine Art in Venice.

It’s an idea born of the process as well as the business of art. Known as Live Draw 2, the first event in August attracted about 200 people, says DCA gallery owner Delia Cabral, who has scheduled a third Live Draw in December and fourth in February.


Cabral got the idea from a similar event at the Dartmouth Street Gallery in Albuquerque. Based on her experiences as an artist, she shaped Live Draw with the intent of offering a unique view of how artist and subject interact.

“I’ve been sketching nudes for 20 years,” she says. “People’s reactions almost always suggest a mystique. Naked people: Do you get turned on, what’s it like? I wanted to share the creative process with people, so they could see really what it’s about.”

The artists’ work is offered for sale. At the first event, prices ranged from $40 to $200. Some were purchased right off the sketchpad, some even before they were created. The event is in conjunction with an ongoing show of nude art, which Cabral describes as “a celebration of the human form. It’s all very tasteful, which is important to me.”

Eight artists -- from Schoffman, whose paintings rarely include people, to one of his students, 17-year-old Samantha Ollstein, whose work focuses on figurative art -- will use a range of media to demonstrate their unique interpretations of models and poses.


The audience will bring their own interpretations. People are drawn to nudity -- and nudity is drawn -- for different reasons. For Schoffman, nudity need be no more prurient than, say, a nice lobster bisque.

“People love the idea of seeing someone make something,” he says. “Why do you think all those cooking shows are so successful? For me, there’s no mystery in what takes place between the artist and the model. What’s more mysterious is how the hell can somebody take a blank sheet of paper and draw a figure in two minutes.”

Ollstein, a senior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, says she was a bit intimidated going into the first Live Draw but not by the nudity. The other artists were older, more experienced, more educated. Then there was the matter of working in front of an audience.

Once she began drawing, however, art did what it almost always does. It focused her.

“Everything makes sense when I’m making art,” she says. “It makes me feel complete.” And, in a gallery filled with spectators, she was able to seclude herself, working quickly with a charcoal pencil.

She worked with a nude model for the first time in a class at the Brentwood Art Center about four years ago. “At first you’re kind of taken aback,” she says. “You’re kind of weirded out about the whole thing, and you don’t know what to do, but eventually you don’t think about them being nude. You just see the lines and shapes and shadows, and you just draw.”

She didn’t work with a nude male until about a year ago. “I thought it was weird that they thought guys could handle drawing a female, but the girls weren’t mature enough to draw a man. I found it to be the other way around.”

At Live Draw, artists work from 5-, 10- and 20-minute poses. Ollstein says she prefers the shorter poses and sometimes includes a number of them in one drawing.


“My goal isn’t to make it look like the person,” she says. “I take my feelings toward the person and I put them in the drawing....I express the feelings I have for the person.” Those feelings must, somehow, be projected. It is the model’s role to understand and convey the range, isolation and intertwining of emotions.

“There’s a giving and receiving that happens,” says Artiga, who has been modeling for 12 years and is part of Why Knot, a company that incorporates modeling with dance.

At the first Live Draw event, he says, the presence of an audience added an element of excitement.

“When the model has a great audience, and the artist is responding, a momentum develops that is so beautiful,” he says. “The model is giving a gift, and the artist must open up to receive it. The beauty of it is that you can see it in the drawing. For the model, I think, that’s the most exciting moment.”

Other artists include: Nancy Kozikowski of Albuquerque, who is known for her large textile pieces; Louie Metz, a figurative painter who combines oils and acrylic glazes; Bogdan Dumitrica, an oil painter and watercolorist originally from Romania; Todd Becraft, a local muralist; Don Paglia, a sculptor-painter based in Mendocino; and mixed-media artist Elyse Wyman.


Live Draw 2

When: Saturday, 6-10 p.m.


Where: DCA Gallery, 219 Rose Ave., Venice

Cost: $20 in advance; $25 at the door pending availability. Open to all ages. Price of admission applied toward purchase of artwork.

Info: (310) 396-8565 or