“I suddenly realize that I’m naked, which shouldn’t bother me since it’s the phone, but for some reason it does.
“How’s it hanging?” Kyra asks and now I think I’m blushing. It’s just an expression, but jeez!”
People sometimes ask me about the skin colors in my works. Up till recently, all of my figures have been without color- that is to say, I’ve focussed more on the light and shadow of the figure and the interraction of the light on the skin. I’ve looked at different skin tones, and worked with many different model colors, but it often doesn’t show.
Previously this was because I wanted to create a unified look to the skin. I wanted all of my pieces to be beyond the concept of race and be universally consistent. I use the same palette for everyone and only vary the skin tones by a few degrees. I was doing it as a commentary that people are so much more than their skin color.
But now my research into anthropomorphic winged figures is going deeper and I need to explore lighter and darker skintones on their own. it’s getting time, as I explore South Africa and Northern Europe to start looking into differing the tones as well as the features. My favorite models are generally Latina, or a lighter black. now I have to move outside my comfort zone and look further. Creating studies and renders, looking at photographs… It’s an interesting challenge. all my figures are very carefully sculpted to have racially appropriate features (even if you don’t see it, I’ve been researching geographical genetic markers, research is practically a hobby now) but I’m looking at the quality of light on different shades of skin tone and I am finding discrepancies. lighting different colors presents unique challenges and doing them justice with my limited palette is also intriguing.
One of the things I love about my job is the assumption that is made about me as a woman who paints nudes.
I’m a slut,
I’m desperate for a new male model (despite my largely female portfolio)
That I need pictures of men I don’t know sending me photos of themselves and their junk.
Did I say love? Yeah, I mean hate.
Because I am a woman and I paint nudes a certain association is made in the minds of certain people. And that association is neither flattering to me, to artists or to women.
I would like to clarify a few misconceptions if I can.
I do not get lady wood when I paint. Unless a paint stroke suddenly makes all the difference and then it’s more of a perfect moment of clarity, like a perfect note, than anything sexual.
I do not paint men often because I find them less artistically inspiring as a rule, not because I lack models. My poor husband is dragged into the studio quite a lot to be a model (of any gender- I usually need a muscle or skin reference or a quick idea), and it is not sexy or glamorous for him.
This assumption, however, extends beyond complete strangers and their junk (which I am largely ambivalous about). It goes to the heart of acceptance for women in the arts, especially in a male dominated genre. It goes to the heart of Indecencies whispered in my ear by male gallery owners in the past and outright offers made to my person. Now I am not above loving a bit of flattery, I certainly don’t mind a bit of saucy banter. But I draw the line at my career being defined by my willingness to hop in bed with gallery owners. I know other female artists who have had the same issues, some quite famous. And it doesn’t end with artists. Women in male dominated industries are often put on the spot. If she is sexual and sensual and not afraid to show it she is a slut. If she turns down a colleague she’s frigid. No mention is made of her work ability.
I had a job once where I finally became open about my sexuality to some of my workmates. A week later I was fired for no reason. (i owned that job- but i wasn’t too upset.. That was the one where the ceo preferred account managers to be female and pretty to win over clients better. He resented that I had a mind. I resented him. And his ridiculous Innapropriate overuse of whom) Another job where I bridled at all the sexual innuendo and harassment from a boss and finally outright turned him down I was fired. You may infer from all this that I was not cut out for an office job. But that shouldn’t be the point. A woman should not be afraid to be herself at her place of work. And I certainly have worked in some wonderful offices as well where I was not harassed at all.
one day we will all just be people working at our jobs. it won’t matter what gender we are, or our sexuality, or our color, our physical or intellectual impairments or age. we will be people.
but today is not that day sadly.
“But first of all he is a woodsman, and you aren’t a woodsman unless you have such a feeling for topography that you can look at the earth and see what it would look like without any woods or covering on it. It’s something like the gift all men wish for when they or young– or old– of being able to look through a woman’s clothes and see her body, possibly even a little of her character.”
Most of my art has to do with light and shadow.
I got you there didn’t I? you thought it was to do with nude people, and you would be right, the curves and shapes of the human body are an obsession of mine. but more than about the human body I think my work is becoming more and more about light and shadow and how they interact with flesh.
I think everything is about light in the end. you think that leaf is pretty? that’s the way the light shines through it. that flower is a lovely color? that’s light doing that! someone’s hair is stunning and you love the way their eyes gleam? light!
and then there is shadow. the cast shadows that follow or precede us. the little edges of shadow that kiss the light. the way they change temperature and change the mood of anything.
yup, light is everything. it gives form and color. shadow provides depth and detail. one cannot exist without the other.