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Preparing the Model

Lesson 13 from: The Art and Business of Conceptual Portraiture

Jennifer Thoreson

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Lesson Info

13. Preparing the Model

Lesson Info

Preparing the Model

Are you ready, my friend mrs anastacia cheesecloth visit yes okay so this is just cheesecloth and you can buy it I don't know where this came from but I get mine from just like the craft store hobby lobby or michael's replace like that would have it I like it because it's gazi and thin and you can see through see the flash through it so I used it also when I'm not doing this clay thing I just dre people let it sometimes it's really pretty from eternity sessions and stuff like that so it's also cheap so I don't mind giving clay on and then just checking it so we're gonna wrap you if I hold it you can kind of spin like a lazy susan in fact maybe hold it there for a moment and then yeah you know what? We're gonna double this up because it's really long sad about yeah I think that's k way want to get a snug as we can she's a fast. Better okay, yeah I mean, people do nudes and stuff in this you know, with I've seen plaster and all kinds of things on people's bodies and paint and whatever bu...

t I like to have the garment on there because it has a lot of texture and visual interest but it also kind of looks like burial cloth which I like especially once we get it heavy with the clay so what should happen? Is this what kind of stick to you once we get that on? But if it feels like it's heavy and it's gonna fall down, let me know and we'll just penton somewhere, okay, so this is the part where you come in so I often will do this in fact, I always do it myself but today since I've gotta handle the camera directly after I do this, I'm going to let her do a lot of it but just you do want to start the stuff because the watery bit will rise to the top and it won't work as well. It's not sticky enough okay, so you're going to literally dip hands and just cover your body especially mostly where the mess lin is and the shoulder yeah yeah and it takes quite a bit just clean to the middle of a cold not too bad it's so bad for your skin at least and I love the drips that happened on their own so it's good stuff do this in colorado at my workshop every summer and it's in a barn so it's pretty interesting and cold so this is a lot more comfortable and wanted to clean to your body as much as possible so just slop it on so this will eventually maybe fifteen or twenty minutes I've never done this indoors this is an experiment it'll dry and start to crack which is not only beautiful, but it kind of shows its interesting that shows the body movements in the creases and things like that. So it almost, like, shows a history, a short history of a little period of time that we've been working together and that's kind of cool, sure, yeah, that'd be great. Um, while we're playing up as long as the baby doesn't get anything, we're good over there. Not this baby that baby, we'll talk about light for a minute to like I mentioned I often photograph at home in a barn or just a right open type space that might have what a single wall on one side that helps modify the light, but I don't use elektronik white unless you absolutely have to, so this is great. This is just a big window light coming in from one side, we're in a pretty much white room, but it's a large room, so we're not getting a ton back from that side. But this wall behind us is white, and so light bounces around in here a lot and it's filling in shadows. So it's almost like having a main line over here and fill light over there, so when you look at her, when we see the light on her in a minute, it's, not it's. It's almost like a two to one ratio if you want to talk like classic portraiture but just coming in gently from one source and that's kind of my language, you just have to get up in the but I just on it and it under it just just do it part of the deal and I talked about this a lot when I teach women's courses, but, um when you get up in somebody's business and you're and we talked about sense of touch earlier, uh, that is a kind of a personal connection that you don't realize at the time, like when the woman laid her hand on my hand and ups store that kind of a connection happens even in this kind of a scenario. When you allow somebody in your space you allow human touch, you don't have to do the legs just protect connection, actual human contact. So if I am doing this, if I am putting the clay on the model, there is an unspoken connection that happens between the two of us that we neither one of us would even want oh, probably put into words, but it happens make sure you get pits because it looks really strange looks beautiful um, so we're going to do that we'll do it at the end, but we're going to do the face a little bit two you don't have to do your eyes just kind of ah sweep around the face and then we'll put ash on there too she could do it herself too if it might be easier for her to do her own face yeah I just I just don't get it in your eyes and everywhere else we're going to get a little bit in the hair too yeah just do it go for it good thing about slip is when you add water to it it's pretty much it runs right off it's pretty forgiving material where paint is not so much so it's not so bad it's very organic you want it for on the cheeks and nose area is fine it may be a little bit up there on the forehead like little fingerprints like more paint kind of looking good maybe a little place to take your palm and stick it on the forehead kind of a little bit more up there I think a little more still just kind of looking at you yeah and I think a little more on the chin area huh? Maybe the back of your neck too fine. I kind of put that together khun someone twine it just kind of tie this off for me while we're just a couple spots so it holds together and then we'll put some ashes on this to here in a minute wait can add more to it if we have the time to so these are going to be black and white I'm not worried about um color temperature and stuff too much because I know you suck all the color out of it anyway so there is some mix lighting going on in here especially we've got the curtain up there and there's color around but I'm not worried too much he see that come up on the monitor um the background is just a drop cloth from the home depot for the lowe's or wherever and they're like twenty bucks just pretty great especially if you're going to be putting clay all over them so that's nice I do have to retouch the seem out of the middle but other than that it's pretty golden okay, now that you're nice and sticky let's get a small piece of cheesecloth would be great if we could cut a little bit off one of those maybe about a square foot a way into these ashes maybe this your feet look awesome I'm gonna put these ashes in outside a bit of the cheesecloth and just tie it off at the top and that becomes like the powdered sugar thing that you use on cake and so we just dust the ash on ash is also beautiful on its own so if you have this you can see this kind of material on my fingers you can have people just put this directly on their skin and become kind of porcelain like it's also really pretty so we're going to do that your face a little bit so it little blend that effect will just the rest of you thank you this is great it's over here I think something like this to and maybe if you've done work like this before you might agree but a messy process or a strenuous process when you work together with someone like the model it's like you've accomplished something together like you're working on it as a team and at the end it's almost like you've got this victorious feeling so I always think of this absolutely as a collaboration everything I did with testament all of it it's a collaboration is not me taking pictures of a person it's us working out a concept together okay take a deep breath in and let me know when you need to suck air again don't open your eyes go ahead put your arms out for me one thing that's cool about the ash is you can see the direction that it comes down so you can see that it's coming from above and there is another to me layer of that symbolism of something coming down from above now ichat can you feel that it's starting to dry okay so I'm gonna have you kind of use your core and lean back just a little bit so I can get a little on the garment yet don't okay can you hold my hand if you want teo this also really shows the where in the garment all the pleats increase it isn't everything and I really like that because I think it even looks more like a burial cloth ok, breathe in the night we're going to your face ready chin back a little bit. I'm sure I'm going to get it up your nose. Just let me know if it's on don't open your eyes until I tell you to because we'll get him in there you take a breath ok ok ok don't open your eyes but breathe and I'm going to give you a little bit in your hands before you open your eyes and have you just kind of smeared around your face someone will do one final powdering of the end just try not to get too much in the eyes mostly in your chin and neck area too no more fantastic way have to clean a bit of cloth could get off of her eyeballs and then she can open her eyes that'll work great. Thank you. Put that in your or I could do it for you stay here okay? It should be all set okay, okay, I'm gonna do one that's a little dusting on your face and then we'll have it we do this, I think one more time you know weaver you really reiterate what type of play you're using and what type of ash somebody had a question yeah it's um porcelain clay slip so slip like a garment you would wear a slip um can I have your tip your head to the m and the other way beautiful okay open your eyes and let me know if you feel anything in there and then we could wipe again if we need teo yeah a little bit off the eyelashes want to keep it a little on there so it doesn't look like cut out try that okay okay fantastic and the ash is volcanic cash so again I think mostly you would buy that a clay store I'm sure you can buy it elsewhere to one more baby why would be great and it is literally the ashes that come out of a volcano is what it is they just go up there and collect it and sell it okay so let's get you back there we can unfold that background see what we see when I start with a women's portrait our this kind of style of thing I'm not I'm not shooting for a sketch in mind or particular concept or particular pose it's more of just kind of playing with space and body and seeing what's possible flexibility I talked about earlier the idea of the kind of breaking point after when I mean by that is people kind of at that point, where they're about to fall apart that point where the balance is just it's just they're barely hanging on, and I'm trying to get kind of a physical representation of that sort of emotional state. So I do a lot of things where people are bending quite far back or their balancing on something or something like that, and I'm hoping that that is resonating sort of ah, a spiritual or emotional thing and that kind of hanging on for dear life sort of idea we need a little bit on your lip there. Can you do still any on your hands? Just a little touch of bad? I think we're gonna need a little more background on the floor. It's okay, forget stuff on it. I I have another creative life class where we talk about a lot of these other things about studio set ups and things to with women, but I love to photograph outside because of all the kind of of course, nature and stuff, but all the organic feeling that you get when you're outdoors and you guys know the difference between being in like a clinical studio and being outside, so I have a little setup I call my studio in the woods, and I just take a little tent outside a little white tent. And pin the background to it like this and photograph outside. So then we have actual breeze coming through. You know, animal sounds cowls walking about in the pasture and it's, just a different feeling. You don't have a clinical feeling. You have a totally different mood. And I think setting a mood when you're photographing is really important.

Class Materials

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Bonus Materials with Purchase

Book Proposal Sample.pdf
Critical Mass - Digital Book.pdf
Curriculum Vitae Example.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 1.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 2.pdf
Keynote PDF Segment 3.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

"Thinking about art is not making art." In this inspiring and informative workshop, Jennifer helps you put thought into action - through meaningful self-reflection, exploration and by taking her through her own processes. Through exercises and examples, she explains how to pull out a thread of an idea and develop it into a conceptual project that is informed and invigorated by personal experience, preference, interests, and so much more. Her workshop not only feeds the creative soul, but offers earnest information on taking first steps toward publishing and showing fine-art. Jen so beautifully shares her talent and her love of teaching - I first "met" her on Creative Live and have had the joy of being mentored by her in-person as well. This workshop is a very close second to spending time with her one-on-one. Thank you, CL, for bringing her back!

kalei harmon

I love Jennifer, she's one of my cL favorites! She is such a soulful photographer and her art just resonates with me in so many ways. While she was creating her conceptual piece with the mother and child, my eyes welled up because it was such a profound experience to witness. I appreciate that she has a graduate degree in art and is able to refer to others in the field who are leading the way. She is so genuine and I'm grateful for her willingness to bare her soul to us through her art and process. I've learned so much by watching how she interacts with models and communicates efficiently and gently to get AMAZING poses. Definitely worth the buy if you're looking for inspiration from an artist who creates images which evoke emotion and communicate a message, not just trying to make "great photos." I can't wait to learn about the business side of it all!


I am so grateful for this class; it is just what I have been looking for to help me go beyond my "photographic potty training". By leading us through her own creative process, Jennifer Thoreson invites us to think about why we do what we do and to make our work more meaningful and authentic, creating our unique visual vocabulary. Moreover, she provides detailed info on submitting work to galleries and publications, contests, printing editions, preparing an exhibition and pricing. In her calm, unpretentious manner, Jennifer demystified art without trivializing it and I finally saw light at the end of a rather long tunnel.

Student Work