From the USA to life modelling in Scotland

Kay came over from the US to study and when she came over to the UK she came with the passion to start life modelling.

How did you get into life modelling?

I’ve been interested in life modelling for several years. I’ve struggled with body image for most of my life, and about 4 years ago, I chose to have surgery that changed my body and left scars. These have certainly been things I’ve had to come to terms with, and taking the plunge into life modelling was an act of radical bodily acceptance.

More practically, I got into life-modelling thanks to a google search! I’d never had luck finding opportunities at home in the states, and I figured I’m here in Scotland as a graduate student; I’m already on one adventure; why not pursue another? I googled life modelling and life drawing opportunities in Glasgow, and it was just my luck that I stumbled across All The Young Nudes when I did. They were advertising an upcoming modelling/posing class, which I signed up for. I attended and, from there, began modelling for them and exploring other opportunities in and around Glasgow!

Do you remember your first life drawing session? What did it feel like?

I do! It was at an All the Young Nudes class and was intended for some new models to come and experience a class.

I was struck by how calm I was once I took the robe off. Having so many eyes on you in such a vulnerable state but to know that you’re being examined not for attractive merit but rather for interesting lines and shapes was very calming and oddly therapeutic. I came away feeling both worried (that I’d done a good enough job) and proud.

That is great to hear. What made you carry on?

I’ve kept at it because I really love the meditative experience modelling provides. When you’re posing, it comes with a very present feeling. I am completely in the moment, not worrying about what I’m having for dinner or going over that conversation I had earlier that day.

I also just love interacting with the artists, hearing about how they see me, what they are looking for, why they got into art. I feel that every conversation I’ve had with an artist has provided me a fascinatingly unique view of myself as a body and sometimes, the greater world!

Copyright: Kay Life Model

Could you tell me one principal thing you took away after your session with ATYNudes?

The most important thing I learned from our posing workshop is being aware of how long you are going to hold that pose for. The first couple sessions I did I often lost feeling in my feet or really pushed my endurance. I learned to try some different poses at home, timing myself to see how long I could comfortably hold them. That decision has been so helpful to all my subsequent sessions and I find myself struggling through a pose much less than I once did!

What is the most enjoyable part about being a life model, and what is the worse?

I think the most enjoyable part is a lot of what I’ve already mentioned! The experience of being present in the moment, of meeting new people, and gaining a better appreciation for my body.

The worst are small things. I’ve never experienced the amount of self-consciousness that I did when I was posing and could feel a bead of sweat dripping down my back. On a more serious note, being a model with a social media account leads to some uncomfortable experiences. There will always be people who think that just because you are nude in one very specific context, it gives them the right to say entirely inappropriate things.

How do you come up with different poses for each session?

I come to a session with some ideas in mind and then see what type of furniture or props I have to work with. From there I try to be as varied as possible, making sure that I’m not favouring one side of the room or always raising my right arm. I’m always thinking about what kind of lines I’m providing everyone in the room.

Copyright: Kay Life Model

What goes through your mind when you are holding a long pose?

Honestly, nothing much! I suppose it depends on if I have more poses to do after I’m done with the current one. If there are more to do, I normally spend a lot of time thinking about what I will do next. If it is one of my last poses for the session I normally enjoy drifting in that meditative state. If the hosts are playing music, sometimes I’m considering that, but normally…normally I’m just enjoying existing!

Given the choice of being captured by only one paint, pencil, cast or sculpted, which one would you choose and why?

I feel hard pressed to choose one! I haven’t experienced casting or sculpture though I’d love to. I think out of them all, sculpture interests me the most. To see the artist’s vision in their entirety, instead of just a single point of view would be a unique experience and, having (minor) prior experience in sculpture just makes me even more curious to experience it!

Is there a life drawing theme you would like but haven’t had the opportunity to do yet?

I haven’t really done any themed modelling, so I would be open to any and all opportunities! I’m particularly interested in nature and the idea of having a drawing session outside with trees and flowers sounds interesting!

If I were to ask you for one piece of advice to help me start my life drawing journey, what would it be?

Not to be intimidated! I’ve run into many young or new artists who are so nervous to share their work. Now, no one should pressure you into sharing but also one of the best ways to improve is to put yourself out there! Both as an artist and model, there is such a great community out there with people excited to give feedback and support!

Do you have any goals you want to achieve in the next year?

I’d love to keep modelling. However, I’m in grad school and am having to take a lot of time to focus on my studies as they come to an end. Once I get my degree and figure out where in the world I’ll be, I’d love to focus on growing my presence as a model more, hopefully offering online sessions or reference photos and sessions to interested artists!

Kay is available for live drawing sessions in person (Around Scotland) and virtually. You can either contact her via email ( or Instagram (@kay_lifemodel)

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