I can take it. Really, I’m good with it. I know my place in the scheme of things and I truly don’t think I’m any better than I am.
I often call myself a painter rather than an artist. I think of what I do as a craft rather than art. I didn’t paint for all those years because I didn’t think I was ever going to be good enough to make a living. A big moment for me was when I did my foundation course and my tutors said that I should say I wasn’t interested in money at my degree course interviews because taking fine art at university was tantamount to accepting a life of poverty. I didn’t go- eventually the degree I went to was in theology and psychology.
I’ve always been interested in irrationality, the ways people fool themselves, contradictory and foolish belief systems. I have books on the Elvis faith, UFO religions as well as standard world religions. I’m an avid fortean. I’m interested in the prevailing world view shaped by the culture of entitlement we live in whereby the people in the richest nations of the world feel hard done by and everyone’s “dream” is to be a vacuous celebrity.
I hope that explains more why I often try to debunk the porn industry illusions of the internet. It endlessly fascinates me. Reality is only disappointing when people have inflated expectations, and they so often do.
I digress, I went off on that tangent for a reason though. The reason I got back to painting wasn’t because I suddenly thought I was great, but because trawling the internet made me realise that there is a market for ok paintings, even bad ones. I’m not aiming high, A lot of what I do is copying peoples’ own photos, pets, kids, bottoms, I don’t mind.
When I started doing this I aimed for the low/mid range, tried to develop a style that would take maybe ten hours per painting so I could price my work at the low end. They don’t always work like that. Kimono took a whole week, I’ve others that took a couple of hours. I started doing ACEO pieces but really thay take me a couple of hours at least and I can’t expect even minimum wage from those. I like doing them though.
I don’t just do what the market likes, I’d rather work in tesco than copy swirly trees or quirky vintage girls with birds on their heads. I like them, I don’t want to do them. A look on the what’s selling page of the art sites would soon show me what to paint. Pretty badly in most cases. But I don’t want to. I’ll do it if I’m commissioned with money up front, but not by choice.
I’m getting there, I think I’ve lately become more confident in spending a bit longer on the paintings, I’d like a few that demonstrate what I can do at the best of my ability in between the decorative pieces.Who knows, I might get better. I don’t know how good I’d be if I hadn’t stopped for 15 years, I don’t know how things will develop.
I see a lot of forum posts where people post up their work for a critique only to be given one and being outraged, and people selling work on ETSY hoping for £2000 for something one of my kids could produce with a box of poundland acrylics. I’m fine with people telling me my work could be better, I agree whole heartedly. There’s some amazing work out there, work that deserve its price tag in the tens of thousands. I’m not asking for that, often I’m asking for enough money for a night down the pub, sometimes only for enough to buy myself a bottle of pink sparkly wine.
So it’s fine, critique away. I’m fairly sure Brian Sewell isn’t watching my blog
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 admit it. I can paint men. I just don’t want to. These are drawings from life class in art college many years ago. Acrylic on paper, no idea why I can’t paint in acrylic now, guess I just got out of the habit.
I can’t wait to get myself back into a life class. Because my models aren’t professionals I take photos to work from. I can remember what it’s like sitting still for all that time and I can’t ask someone to do it for free, but just looking at these makes me remember what a different process it is to working from photos.
I just hope this time the models in the life class are female
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
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
I’ve read a lot about copyright online in forums. All that stuff about altering images a certain amount. Piffle. I’ve gone to a great effort to create these images and I don’t want them copied. They’re mine. They are my babies. I thought them up, I got models, I bought underwear and props, I made photos and then I painted them.
They don’t need painting again in a different way. They don’t need to be tagged on facebook and used as your profile picture without asking me first. Get your own sexy friends and strip them and paint them. You can’t have mine, I saw them first!
NO! I really don’t. Unless you’re paying me to paint it. Strangers offer me this delight all the time. I could watch men from Swindon to Timbuktu with cheap webcams directed zipwards to a disappointing pixellated member all day if I wanted.
How inspiring that would be.
Because…… they’re just not as nice to paint. I prefer painting smooth dogs to fluffy dogs and light coloured horses rather than black ones. They’re easier and more satisfying. I identify with the subject.
And… most importantly, they are less trouble