Thursday, December 22, 2011


In August, I visited the studio of an artist friend, took off all my clothing and posed nude for him.  It is true, I am 50 years old, and I have body parts that have moved south permanently, not just for the winter.  I had friends ask me if I was embarrassed and the answer is no, not in the least.  What I exposed was merely the vessel, not the contents.  It isn’t like this artist asked me to reveal what is in my heart , what is important to me or the contours of my innermost thoughts.  If he had, I would have felt nude, naked, bare, exposed…vulnerable. 

As artists who have some time behind us, we can identify the painting we made after the death of a loved one, or the one after we kissed our youngest child goodbye before leaving them hundreds of miles away at college.  We know the piece we painted in anger after arguing with our spouse.  We know too well the commission we worked on into the wee hours until everything we looked at was a blur.  We have taken the weight of our lives into the studio and dropped it on the surface of our work.

We need to learn to paint naked.

We can be told to paint from the heart, we have all heard that.  I am sure many of us have been told that our work lacks emotion or movement or texture.  Of course it lacks emotion when you paint while seething with anger, or stoically holding in your tears.  You can’t paint movement when your knees are hurting because you can’t paint what you can’t do.  Why paint texture when your life course is bumpy?

Paint naked.

By now, you know I don’t mean for you to go into the studio, strip to the skin and paint in the nude, even if it would save your wardrobe.  I am suggesting that you toss away the pretense, discard the tension and loosen your grip on perceived reality.  Let go of your cares and find your inner peace.  Be nude, be naked, lay bare, expose the self and be vulnerable so that you can pour out the contents of your vessel.  In other words…

Paint naked.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Art and the Single Woman

Feline Eyes: Marmalade Tabby

I am frustrated.  My life has reached a rather frenetic level.  I am in a wet paper bag without the ability to navigate my way out of it. 

I am a single woman, an artist and a full time corporate worker.  I am responsible for every thin dime I have to spend.  I have no safety net, no spouse and no trust fund, but I have two jobs, one of which I work every day of the year, as in every day of the year.  I am responsible for my own meals and my own housekeeping.  I have grown children whom I chase around from time to time, and who often need my financial help, hence the two jobs I work.  Sprinkle in some serious health problems just for good measure.  My life is full to the brim, even if I don’t paint.  I have responsibilities to others, but I have them to myself as well.  In the midst of my chaos, my spirit demands that I paint. 

I am writing this on a Thursday.  Tomorrow morning, I must enter into the four days of hell I call my full time workweek.  Between tomorrow at 11 a.m. and Monday at 11 p.m., I will have put in more than 50 hours at my desk.  I will be exhausted, parts of me will be numb and my heart will be pounding at the impending joy of three days to paint…knowing full well that I also have Mount Washmore to climb, wash, fold and put away, that the kitchen is not fit for food preparation, not to mention the myriad of other household chores facing me.  God forbid I have to spend a full day driving 150 miles round trip to the nearest Walmart to stock my cupboard because it is bare.  So, much as I am excited to get to the brushes, it is going to take an energy and determination that has been depleted by selling my soul to the company store.

Certainly, it would be nice to paint full time.  That would be the goal, however unrealistic it might be.  I could achieve that by winning the lottery, but I have a greater chance of dying in a terrorist attack.  I could remarry and trade in my day job for washing someone else’s dirty socks and fighting over the toilet seat.  Again, I think the odds of this happening are about as good as dying in a terrorist attack.  When weighing marriage against the scope of my current freedom, it feels like death anyway.  I consider these things from time to time, and freely decide to continue my life as a corporate whore in a job I detest and one that is extremely boring and redundant.

I will now go back to my life divided.  There are the four days in the dark cave and the three days in the light, of rich colors and living in the Zen of watercolor artistry, believing that the struggles are worthy of my efforts.