I found it really hard to choose pictures for this post as generally the photos behind my work are unseen, I prefer them to be a mystery. I mainly work to commission and I wanted to share a post to help my female customers produce their own amazing images so they really have a piece of artwork to be proud of. Not just that though- I’m happy for other artists to share this with their own potential models and for people to use this advice for their own photos however they like to use them. I’m sure the advice works the same for men, it’s just that I prefer painting girls.
I really want you to get behind me on this. Before I start, I want to stress that I’m going to be making generalisations. Even I can find exceptions, but I’ll be using evidence for my arguments that what I’m saying is largely true, and I’m really asking for feedback on this one.
Current stats on alt.com, this is better than other sites because I think generally women are more involved in alternative sex sites because they have more to offer them..
When I clicked through, the one woman online by that time had 72 viewers, the man at the top of the list had one, the rest none. I always use that as a very direct illustration. Women don’t watch as much porn as men- you knew that, right?
Even here in blogland most people come upon my blog by certain search terms- that’s why I use the tags! I exist within a world which already has it’s rules and standards and expectations. I can’t have things my way. But I really want to tell you how I wish it could be.
The reason women don’t search for porn is due to experience. It excludes us, we have to search too hard to find something we’d like, even then we’ll have encountered countless gynaecological pop ups in the search for fetish art or classy erotic photos. I know men who feel the same. The woman who likes cheesy gynaecological porn is about as rare as that one woman watching the guy in the cam room. (And that woman is probably a man)
I really absolutely don’t want to see an orange hard-faced man having sex with a girl two generations younger just because he has an unusual ability to keep hard during the photo/camera session. And if I see it I turn off the pc and go watch eastenders. I don’t need an up close biology lesson or another picture of a girl getting a facial.
There is a problem which leads to a fundamental division I can’t do anything about. It’s hard to fight my corner, my argument for “erotic art” when it too often comes under a banner which automatically includes everything from basic hustler porn to bizarre and unpleasant hardcore which most people search for because they’re looking for revulsion or something to ridicule.
Just as the meek naturist couples often have to share space with oil basted exhibitionists- they feel the same, if they were to try to show people how innocent it is they’d have to take them to a place where they’re more likely to see public masturbation than anywhere else in the country and their argument would be instantly invalid.
And that’s how I feel. For all this time I’ve been trying to work out how to reach women. I so want to spend my days telling girls how to take amazingly erotic photos of themselves which they and anyone else they can choose to show will find stunning/ sexy/ empowering. Because I know that women feel that their sexuality has to be hidden. They don’t want to be associated with a kind of pornography which is about abuse. Many guys visiting prostitutes don’t ask if the girl has been trafficked- or so many of them wouldn’t be, they don’t ask for credentials of the girl in the videos they look at.
There’s a fantastic article in the guardian about the differences between the viewers of male and female strippers. It’s a perfect illustration of the polar extremes.
I want a middle ground so that average women (not swingers, not those responding to the desires of their partner) can enjoy erotic images without being visually assaulted by things that will turn them right off) Scarlet magazine was great- informative, clever, erotic, it’s gone. Thank god for Ann Summers and internet sex shops.
Women are never going to find me, if they do they’ll be frightened I’m a guy wanting to perv over their photos.
I want a world where women understand that guys will always look at girls and that’s no threat, but where we can meet them half way.
I’ve asolutely nothing against porn, nothing against nudists, nothing against swingers. I just want my audience to reach further than that into the wider public. Somewhere between those and the high art world is everyone else, my target market.
But if it doesn’t happen soon I’ll give up the commission part of my work, give up social networking and concentrate on my own work which I’ll sell through galleries.
Is there any hope? I don’t know
I’m dissatisfied today, it happens.
I was very interested in a forum discussion about muses yesterday. I don’t think I can have one in the way it’s generally perceived as I generally have no erotic interest in the subjects of my work, but it got me thinking about the difference it would make to what I do if I was involved with a man.
There has only been one man in my life in the time I’ve been in this specific field of art and I can honestly say he did have an effect on what I did. I enjoyed having a man to think about when I was creating the pictures. In the buying stage and the photographic stage I started to think about what he would find erotic and incorporate it.
It’s fun having someone to run scenarios by and see if someone else likes it- someone who would be interested that is. If I was to call up my girlfriends and start describing a secretary bending over a desk or a girl reclining in lacy panties, they’d soon stop picking up the phone. Maybe it’s better now I’m just doing what I like.
It’d be great to have someone to stand in front of a mirror with and see what works so I could do sketches for some more boy/girl paintings.
If you see me in the sex shop buying a big blow up man- he’s for practise posing with. And to prop up looking out of my bedroom window to deter burglars like some people have them in a car.
I joined Fetlife. I like it a lot.
It’s unexpected, the feeling of those sites. I mentioned before I was on the glorious adultfriendfinder blogging for a while, alt.com too. I even had a paid membership for a while.
And all this whingeing I do, it’s absolutely unrelated to those kind of sites. Aside from a couple of notable exceptions, the respect I got on those sites far outweighed that I got on other social networking and.. dare I say… dating sites.
You see, I really want to just be me- say what I want and be as I am in real life. I try but it just doesn’t seem possible. I was probably a bit too much “me” on facebook before I was booted off for facebook nipple crime.
I’m just a normal (hmm, maybe not) person with a regular life. Slightly more boring lately. I haven’t been painting long, 18 months or so. I’m not great, but I think I’m improving. I’m the art equivalent of a good karaoke singer- not quite laughable but never gonna play the Royal Albert Hall. (Incidentally I’m the karaoke equivalent of one of those Xfactor contestants who seem to be on day release- I’ll stick with painting)
The truth is a lot of straight men would rather have a poorly executed painting done by a woman than a great painting done by a man. I’ve got no problem with that in essence but I don’t want to be treated differently. I’d rather lose the business altogether. Which is why I removed myself from some sites and others even say I don’t deal with men at all. It makes me really sad, I had no idea when I started that I’d end up in that position.
I’m as uncompetitive in painting as I am in everything else. I like seeing good art done by others, it makes me want to be a better painter. A lot of the time I’m just playing, pushing paint around. Fine art it isn’t- I know that.
It’s only really on sites like fetlife where I know boundaries are understood. I wonder why that is.
I want to be more honest without it leading to disaster. I sell on Etsy because men don’t look on craft sites. In general that is. You see, I did it again. Most of my readers here are men. I like them. Honest. Men here tend to be cerebral and emotionally intelligent enough to just leave the page if they don’t like what I’m saying.
It’s what happens if I enter into dialogue with men who want paintings done. I stress, this isn’t a universal rule and my etsy male customers are always lovely, I’m able to laugh with them and have genuine conversations. This is the part that male artists don’t have so they don’t know why I feel this way. I know other female painters of nudes get the same treatment, some don’t mind, others do.. It’s the bit between dialogue and sale. You wouldn’t believe how many guys ask for a critique of their naked body or ask for a “date” in this hinterland of transaction.
I’m sorry if you’re one of these guys. Please stop reading now.
Do I like looking at naked men? Lovely muscly gay oiled men? Yes. Boiler repair men with a beer belly? Not so much. Call me shallow but I’ve seen what men look at left to their own devices- and those girls don’t look like me either!!! Not many Susan Boyle lookalikes in the porn industry. I’m more than happy for you to think that I’m a subo doppelganger.
So what am I meant to say at that point? I don’t make much money yet, one day I might, who knows?
If I had the knowledge I’d make a poll. Here’s all I can think of
1 “wow you look so hot” (lie)
2 “your **** is so big” (sometimes true but indicating interest)
3 “you’re not my type, I’m not interested in naked photos of you” (true)
4 “you look alright, if I was your girlfriend/sex partner I’d probably really enjoy seeing you naked” (often true)
5″ damn, I don’t know what to say. If I express any interest here you will carry on sending me pictures I don’t want to see and possibly even start imagining I’m the woman for you. If I say I don’t want to see them or you are not attractive to me you will probably not carry on with this transaction” (TRUE)
6 … avoid the issue.
I can’t lie, just can’t. I know I’d get more work if I led guys on and pretended to like things I don’t. I actually do fancy men. I’m single. I’m female. But I’m damned if I’m going to flirt for financial gain with men I don’t fancy- I’m a painter, not a lap-dancer!
I don’t use other photographers’ work or copy other painters but sometimes when I’m working I think I need to change something, it’s usually a facial expression or maybe the hands aren’t quite right. At those times I put in an image search and I get lost for hours. It’s something I tend to do really early in the morning. And I never keep to my brief. One erotic photography site leads to another, sex blogs, sites for women, sites for men, adult forums.
Sometimes I see things I wish I hadn’t. I’m amazed the spectrum of sexual preferences out there. How UN”erotic” are some of the things which turn people on. We’re a truly astonishing species. I’d love to elaborate- but I’ll spare you the details…
It’s so grey and rainy today, I’ve got all my daylight bulbs illuminating my work area and it’s still so dark and grim I ust can’t summon up the will to paint so I’m just going to write a bit about my life in the real world. Yesterday the man came to read the meter and put a card through the door saying he’d be back this morning.
Recently I rearranged my house so there’s no route through straight to the back door and everyone has to come through my front room, kitchen, and studio to get there. There’s no back gate and the meter is just outside the back door so short of hiding everything I’m doing and taking everything off the walls I’m about to deal with anything from confused embarrassment, wide eyed voyeuristic interest and a barrage of questions (see previous posts)
I rarely get a hard time from anyone who actually sees me and what I do in close proximity, the mystery is taken out of it. I’m clearly not painting in the nude, or a man pretending to be a girl so that’s half the battle.
But maybe I sometimes do feel a bit apologetic about it. Contractors and salespeople are generally male so I don’t get any real hostility or suspicion from these strangers who come into my house but I do have a sinking feeling when I know I’m going to have to say something. I wonder what this one will be like.
As you can see from my post photo today I’m pining because I’m not going to erotica at olympia this year. I’d have known so much better this year what to paint for that particular exhibition and I’m sad not to be going. I’d enjoy it so much more if I did it again. And I’ve never seen Dita Von Teese live, that would be so amazing. And the shopping, all those goodies I could use in my work. Shoes! Corsets, masks, feathers…. I’m sulking.
I don’t know why I’m puting off new photo sessions since I got my new camera. I have new props, two fantastic new outfits and still I can’t seem to commit to actually geting some new photos taken.
I’ve been making some sweet decorative little pieces on small canvases which I’ll list on etsy soon as they’re dry but what I really need is a new studio session. I was thinking yesterday about trying to get men involved again. My photo sessions with men have been unsuccessful, for different reasons. Mainly because I just don’t seem to know what to do with them. When I’m posing girls it’s easy, I’m projecting myself through them.
It’s like lingerie, girls have got endless options, guys look silly in anything but the most basic stuff, or they look great- but gay. Same with posing them for photos or drawing. I can put them into basic life class poses but giving them the same look I give my girls is just so wrong. Funny, but wrong.
Men in my work are best used as accessories. They come with a partner who I direct around him and what happens to him in the photo session is just perfect for my work. The trouble has been that the couples have been self conscious and not believable. Girls who give me great erotic photos when they’re here alone stiffen up with a man there. Strange but true.
I have a friend who does a bit of cage fighting, I thought about going along and taking pics there. Men all angry and sweaty and not wearing much. It might give me a better idea of what to do with men without feminising them and to make them a more active part of the process.
Maybe I should get a naked man of my own instead of borrowing other peoples, but they’re so much nicer when you can give them back
People do ask me what my work is really about, but sometimes they’re better off not knowing. These paintings are about me, they’re about people I know and mostly about the dark peculiarities of the human condition and sexuality. They’re about the theatre of sex, the performances people put on and the lies behind the act.
People do remark that they’re obviously painted by a woman, and I know that’s true. Men painting these things are often as happy with the illusion as the viewer. Again I must clarify, this is not an anti male rant, in the private world of sex there’s equal responsibility, the games are part of the fun and eroticism can be the antithesis of honesty.
It occurred to me while I was reading eroticism and art by Alyce Mahon that the position I find myself in has interesting echoes in art history. She recalls the paintings of Ingres (1780-1867) and his contemporaries who pandered to a fantasy ideal of a world in which women were sexually available and libidinous, and more importantly a world which wasn’t readily checkable for factual accuracy. If they were portraying women in Wales, people would have just gone to have a look and returned deflated and disillusioned.
There was a recent resurgence in the popularity of orientalist art. The Tate hels an exhibition in 2008 “british orientalist painting” One of the featured paintings is by a female artist also working under a pseudonym. Henriette Browning’s “harem interior” caused some consternation. Alyce Mahon mentions that in 1861 Olivier Merson complained that Browning’s paintings showed “silent and bored women… chaste in the muslin of their long dresses” and that “these paintings somewhat disrupt our dreams of the orient”
Shame. The interesting thing is that in this description of the reaction to the disappointing reality that people are basically the same the world over I am reminded of my own experience and that now it’s the west which has the capacity to disrupt dreams currently very active in the orient. The most casually offensive messages I get are from the middle east. This isn’t because men there are fundamentally any different. It’s just that they’re believing the advertising of the western porn industry and lack the ability to come and check. There are more than enough men in this country who believe that women on the internet are from a strange and wonderful world where girls just desperately want to see badly taken mobile phone shots of nondescript body parts. (I know I go on about that a lot- but I get many less photos in my inbox these days so I just thought I’d throw it out there again and repel a few more.)
My work focuses on these illusions. The large scale ones I’ve already mentioned. And the smaller ones. The reality of being alienated or connected and the ways sexuality is used in honesty and in lies. My paintings are often lit as if they show a stage performance. Sometimes the subjects are confrontational and direct. Sometimes they’re anonymous and turned away, but still aware of the viewer. Sometimes people are more honest in sex than in life, sometimes the opposite. Sometimes people will engage in levels of intimacy in the bedroom but will be unable to communicate with their clothes on. Sometimes women will put on the sexual performance of a lifetime and not see it as absurd that they can’t ask their sex partner if they’re in an exclusive relationship. Sometimes men are tender and sweet in the bedroom in a way you just wouldn’t recognise if you saw them in a pub with their mates. It’s a different world, a mystery. And the reality of it can be uncomfortable. The reason my work is “obviously done by a woman” is that I talk about these things with my friends and I’m always amazed by the illusions we weave. A question I’m often asked by men is why women seem so much more sexually experimental at the start of a relationship and suddenly the more exciting and forbidden acts are birthday treats. That’s a common thing to happen. It’s part of the game for many people.
I’m fascinated by the dissonance which sex causes in the power balance of relationships. How far women will go to convince themselves their man is different to those others and doesn’t look at girls while strangely feeling the need to check their every move by some fairly extreme cyberstalking. It takes some effort to achieve something erotic within the constraints of modern life, insecurity and domestic normality.
But there’s a double bluff in my work, it’s deliberately staged, but there’s an underlying truth. It actually depicts what women are when there’s no men around at all. It’s aware of the eventual viewer but it’s not contrived to deceive. Some of my best paintings are of phoos taken in moments just before massive laughing fits. Because in my experience with every single one of my models is that girls left alone just don’t take themselves all that seriously. And that’s why my paintings look obviously done by a woman. Men just don’t really know what that world is like because it changes when a (straight) man is present. It’s a world as remote to the viewer as Ingres’ turkish bath, but it does exist. It’s a lot more real in essence than the art copied from pornography or glamour shoots by male photographers, that’s for sure. It’s just different, that’s all. I’m a girl painting girls, because that’s what I know and understand.
Ok maybe “understand” was taking it too far
Sometimes I don’t know what my paintings will be called until I’m listing them for sale. It has to be something which makes sense. Luckily, when I was listing this on etsy I was singing “modern day delilah” by Kiss in my head and so she was christened.
I often trawl through my itunes playlist to find titles (please don’t look at my titles now, the knowledge of what I’m listening to while I’m painting might take awaty any erotic mystique my work has left!)
Modern day Delilah could be a title for my whole body of work. It sums up my feeling about making erotic art in these times and this whole thing of blogging about postmodern sexuality and erotic representation of the female of our amazing species. Both in the photographs I take- which are never seen by anyone except my models- and the paintings which they are created for.
I suppose she represents the contradictions of putting my work up with full awareness that I’m going to appear alongside male oriented pornography and this will always get me in trouble and ultimately be my downfall. The devil in the keywords. But I refuse to be driven out. Like I’d refuse to give up wearing miniskirts if my legs had ever been good enough to be up for the task!
You can look at her, you can buy her and put her on your wall. But you can’t tame her.
“Same old ways,
Modern day Delilah”
I’m feeling nostalgic this week. This painting is taken from a set of photographs I took exactly a year ago.
I always think my work isn’t particularly allegorical but there’s always something that reminds me what was happening in my life, or my state of mind when I imagined the pictures into life.
It’s often because of the items of clothing or props I’ve used. I often search something out and post up an appeal for somebody to come and wear it. When I’m buying a pair of knickers I’m imagining a finished canvas, I’ve worked out the colours and lighing scheme and how I’m intending to pose the model.
I’ve got a couple of things, including a purple feather tickler that are demanding to be in a painting. Better get my feelers out for a model who isn’t too ticklish