My blog is turning into more of a catalogue of my feelings about postmodern female sexuality and it’s inherent problems than about painting. But it keeps me amused so humour me.
In all likelihood, my reader, I’m about to tell you of a world about which you know nothing. So please suspend disbelief and judgement and hear me out.
Most of my friends are poledancers. And at a stretch, given the fact that I’ve completed six levels of instruction and am typing this next to a fully installed professional chrome dance pole, I am too. That statement generally makes people either angry, aroused or confused. I hope to change that reaction. Sometimes I can change peoples’ perception, often I can’t.
Let me first tell you this. I watched nearly 40 pole performances on Saturday night at a competition. Some of those were people just wanting to give it a go, and others were from world renowned performers. In the audience- 80% women, 10% parents, 10% pole husbands (think WAGS) My friend next to me noticed that the young man across from us in the front row looked at the floor when he was in danger of getting an eyeful.
It’s just not what you think. Of course there are poledancers who do it for advertising so they can show their wares enough to get men to pay for a private dance. Good on em I say! It’s good money and if men are silly enough to pay to play the game nobody’s losing on the deal. I’ve been to strip clubs and seen some very impressive performances from some very athletic and pretty girls so if you’re expecting me to berate them, I’m not going to. But it’s not what I’m talking about.
I understand why pole fitness as a concept inspires such ridicule. There’s a basic misconception and prejudice behind it along with a feeling that we’re not being entirely honest about our motivation.
Why have so many suburban women got a dance pole in their kitchen? What place have high heels and photos got in a fitness class? Aren’t these women just doing it so they can go home and shake their booty in the old man’s face and give him a thrill? These questions stop being relevant when you meet us and see what we actually do. If it turns you on seeing a middle aged woman in hotpants red-faced and bruised with a pole between her legs swearing like she’s dropped a brick on her foot… stick around. If not you’ll be sorely disappointed!
The scorn that some people pour on the concept amazes me. The steel pole makes things possible that no ordinary woman will do unless she runs away with the circus! It’s about strength and style. And it’s about music and dressing up. There, I admitted it. We like the shoes. Sometimes we play sexy, sometimes we play it for laughs. But we’re not playing with men in mind. As long as I’ve had my x-pole no man has seen me on it. With the exception of the male student in the class (who happens to be better than me!)
But is it a crime? Does it have to elicit such suspicion? It’s a post-feminist conundrum until you realise that we quite like our man looking at us- it isn’t an automatic violation!! On a recent television discussion about pole fitness it seemed to be that saying a woman might want to use her skill to turn her man on at home invalidates the whole thing.
To that conclusion I say this. Is it impossible that a woman might just understand that men are visual creatures? that she might like dressing up and dancing? That she’s not averse to putting high heels and frills on for bed? That she knows why lap dance clubs are successful and maybe, just maybe…. she’s grown up enough and secure enough to think she might just give those strippers a run for their money and put on a show for the man she loves?
If to that you think- “No, women should just lift up their M&S nighties in the dark and leave it to the sex workers to the dirty stuff” or ” men would rather pay for it with a woman who’s spent ten minutes pretending to like every man in the room til he hands over his twenty quid and she moves on. There’s no place for that in a loving relationship” – that’s a shame. And you couldn’t be more wrong.
It’s a question I spend much time pondering. You can try telling me girls aren’t so different in their consumption of erotica but until the first website appears for girls to pay to watch men in the act of self-love, I’m not going to listen. When it does, the viewers will still mainly be men interested in looking at straight men for a change, and if it ever happens for real I can imagine just what it will be like. It’ll be a humorous female bonding exersise like going to see a male stripper.
So that’s how I know we’re different. The trouble is, it really does matter to me. I’ve seen my blog stats, and the fact is that you, my reader, are more than likely a man who came across my blog by searching for “erotic” or “nudity” and you’re nor my target market. There lies the problem. I’m trying to sell erotic art to a group of people who aren’t looking for it.
BUT I’ve searched using those terms too. I’m an unusual female so I can’t generalise from myself. I do know what I like, I know what my friends like and all I can do is carry on and hope that people find me. Male erotic artists often produce work that’s like erotic photography aimed at men. Unnatural looking female, big makeup, big hair, early 20s. Full body pose, come hither look direct to viewer.
Some of the most extreme art I’ve seen comes from the female artists. Often the men seem to yearn for the 70s glamour model look. I like that too but not in a painting. Most of us do seem to concentrate on the female form in it’s ideal proportions. For me that’s mostly because all the women I know who agree to be models look like that. And that’s how I look so I identify with it. And I think that’s the point. Most of my paintings could be anyone. More often than not they end up looking like me if I put a face on them. I guess that’s because I try to not have them identifiable so I change the features and my face is what I’m used to looking at. It gets on my nerves because I’d love my paintings to resemble what my own idea of attractiveness is, but it never works out!
I think ideally we like something atmospheric. We’re not keen on harsh lighting. I don’t think girls ever ask to have sex under a floodlight, so that’s just the look that feels sensual to us. I guess the music we choose to make love to is the same thing. I almost disclosed my personal playlist but you’re better off not knowing. Men’s magazines- women on the cover. Womens’ magazines- women on the cover. We like looking at girls, for different reasons though.
If it’s the male form we’re interested in looking at (it happens…) then I think often its a back view or a torso in a pair of jeans that really does it for us. Couples who look like they’re having a really intimate hot sex session. Porn is too clinical to appeal to most of us in it’s basic form. And porn for women isn’t my thing at all. But then I hate ballads, chick flicks and period drama. Yuk.
So maybe I’m painting for an audience of one. Me. And maybe my friends.
Ah well, it keeps me happy
I’m really sad today thinking about how perfect my old studio was for photographs. It was the lighting from the velux window. Harsh and directional but so perfect for moody atmospheric shots. I was looking thhrough my photo sessions from about five years ago and realised I’ve been trying to artificially recreate that lighting here.
I was only taking them as photos in their own right then and I just wish I could have a few hours in there to take photos for paintings. I think my tenant might have words to say about it though http://www.etsy.com/listing/57096163/aceo-original-small-oil-painting
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.
I have two children, boys who are still at school. I became aware that they might not be comfortable with my social networking as a painter of this particular subject matter overlapping with theirs so I decided on a name. Infact I stole it. Joanna was my best friend when I was little. She was a bit of a tearaway frankly and I don’t know what became of her. I took the surname from a childhood crush I was unfortunately destined to have a doomed affair with and now I resent the name but I’m stuck with it.
It’s not a secret, everyone knows who I am and what I do, I’m not ashamed of it. I just don’t want it to appear on my childrens’ facebook wall. That’s all.
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
This one is the funniest really. It’s the one most about wishful thinking other than “do you paint in the nude?” If I wanted to make more money and sell my soul I’d say “oh yeah baby as soon as I pick up that paintbrush I’m a seething naked mass of pure erotic ecstasy” Unfortunately the truth is also funnier to me, so I do like to say that I’m actually in paint spattered track pants and reading glasses squinting and getting angry when things don’t go right while listening to bad daytime telly and yelling at the dog for barking at the chinchilla.
The photographs are the most fun.
My models are people I know, the poses are achieved in really fun nights in with bottles of wine and dressing up gear. It’s about making images out of nothing, it’s as much about the photographs which are made to give to the model for their own enjoyment (as in “wow I look great”) as they are sketches for later paintings.
The colours are made using different sources of light in the staging, the poses are found in movements. I say “go like this” while putting myself into the position I’ve imagined. It’s an organic process which is always new, always exciting and fascinating. What the new model will bring to the process, what the paintings will look like at the end.
There’s a lot of wine, a lot of oooh! and aaaah! a lot of laughing, a bit of mischief. But it’s not sexy. My friends are lush. Gorgeous sexy women. But I don’t fancy them. For my sins, I find men attractive.
So why don’t I paint them? That’s the next question I’ll answer.
This is the question I’m asked the most. Firstly there is an enormous difference between nude art and erotic art at it’s extremes. Clearly there is also a crossover point. Maybe I’m generally close to the centre. I have a few pieces of work I’d argue are fit to be seen in public places. Most of my work is sensual and erotic rather than verging on the pornographic.
But why is that what I’ve chosen to paint? I like it, I like the feeling of it. I’m interested in the change in the way women represent themselves. Being told that I should leave such images in the domain of pornographers and porn stars and go off and paint flowers just makes me more determined than ever to carry on. I like flowers too by the way, I just don’t enjoy painting them as much.
The effect on men doesn’t occur to me. I have mostly female friends and so the people who see my paintings close up are girls. We just don’t see it as dirty. Cheeky maybe, fun, sexy.
It’s the colours, the sensuality I like. And the process. Which I’ll address in another answer.
Short answer. Because that’s what I like.
If the question really is “Why do you paint erotic art when you don’t come across as a very erotic person and you’re not responding to my flirting or offers of modelling” I’m afraid the answer to that is
“get a grip”
My eldest son needed a bedroom of his own and unfortunately there was only one option. A bed moved in, and I was without a studio.
My work has been on the large side until now, it’s easier and more physically satisfying to work on a larger scale and I’d just gotten used to larger and larger canvases. Without a home they suddenly looked like giants.
I’d been working on portraits and landscapes with a view to doing craft fairs locally and I hadn’t really produced any good paintings for a while so I was quite happy experimenting.
Then I discovered the ACEO. What a fabulous invention. My kids are trading card lovers. Tiny little paintings. Perfect. It’s not high art but that’s not what I’m about and it’s just such fun. My etsy page is increasingly full of these miniature paintings and I really love them.
I didn’t think I could paint on a smaller scale but I’m getting better, I have a magnifying glass and better reading glasses and an almost imperceptible paintbrush.
What next- erotic art for grown up dolls’ houses? Is there any such thing? Let me know if you find anything. The playboy mansion at 1/16 scale with a mini heff? I want one!