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
I was in bed last night after waffling on in my previous blog about the illusions which the internet gives men and I remembered this. I had a blog on adultfriendfinder, I found people there intelligent and respectful but I guess that’s because I was only blogging there. I learned so much from being there but it was a limited audience and I gave it up.
I used to feel quite guilty when I exposed the reality of it. More than 30 women to every man, the models used to advertise the site as if pneumatic blondes with perfect glamour model styling need to pay for men to queue up for random encounters. The same as those little chat boxes which pop up on porn sites appearing to be instant messages from predatory models from lads magazines who live just round the corner and want to meet YOU.
It’s outrageous that the exploitation of men is allowed in this way. The truth should be at least in some small print. “these women are not actually representative of women on this site but some of them may be cam hookers so get your credit card ready, this screen is as close as you’re gonna get!”
So I decided that women should have to suffer the same level of disappointment. Here’s an advert I made some time ago for my new website. I reckon in a few months I’ll have thousands of women paying £30 a month. But it wouldn’t- there would be a public outcry if those lies were told to women. It’s no wonder men get so angry. I would too.
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
Erotic art, it’s a minefield. I really want to use social networking and blogging to show people what I do because it’s so very difficult to exhibit. If you’ve been reading before you know the problems I’d faced but it seemed that listing myself as married stopped the overtly sexual approaches.
Yesterday however I got a message from a British man who had seen my work in a group on facebook. “loving it” he said “very sensuous, love the style” So I thought, here’s someone actually interested in the art. I said he could friend request me if he liked as I welcome all kinds of feedback and post up lots of my work in progress over there.
He requested me. Then he found my blog and messaged me again. He said “is your work mainly for a female audience then?” And he BLOCKED ME! before I had a chance to reply to his enquiry or accept his request.
I’m shocked. Is it really the case that I have to either be single and friendly and constantly deal with men who think I’m asking to be propositioned in sometimes fairly extreme ways jst because I paint naked women and then get very angry when I’m not interested, or pretend I’m married do this to try and fend off advances and make them angry anyway. I’m not averse to male attention when it’s respectful but I don’t like this at all.
If that’s the case then I just don’t know what to try next. Pretend to be a man? Any suggestions for a name….? Go on, if I’ve pissed you off, do your worst! I don’t mind, as long as it’s in public, not in a private message from a coward hiding behind a stock photo of a bodybuilder. Grrrr.
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
I’m struggling to work out when my women grew faces and started feeling emotion. They were all faceless performers until recently. I really can’t seem to stop them looking like me. No matter how different the model in my photo is, how I alter the features. At the end, they all feel like they’re me. It’s most annoying!