Saturday, 9 January 2010

Do you paint in the nude?

[caption id="attachment_14" align="alignleft" width="241" caption="Oil on canvas. April 2009"][/caption]

Let's get that one right out of the way.

The world is divided into two kinds of people. Boys and girls. And if I've ever done anything which compounded this contrast it's what I do now.

Obviously, I have an interest in human, not just female sexuality. My work has always explored themes of exhibitionism, sexuality and fetishism. The advent of the internet in the years between my earlier paintings and my new work has given me access to a whole new world. Not different, just more visible. And with it a wide scope for inspiration.

To some extent I would have to agree that I'm "asking for it" In the same way that girls with short skirts attract attention. I just don't agree that my boundaries should be crossed unless someone's invited.

This comes from conversations I've been having with some very talented strong female artists I know who are only now beginning to find these problems and I want to share my journey with them and anyone else who cares to read.

I chose a very strange path to get here. Not one I regret at all, I wouldn't have done it otherwise. It's the way I do things I guess- throw it with force against a wall and see what sticks.

Last April, I hadn't painted anything but what people asked me to. Labradors and babies mainly. Then an opportunity arose with another painter who was selling classy decorative popart nudes  on a site. He invited me to do some work for it. I started with the thought of male nudes as there is a good market in the gay community and I thought I might find someone fabulous to go dancing with in the process.

But it didn't work out. Very early on I was faced with this fundamental difference. I'm not saying it's universal, it's my experience. It's what I call the "what are we going to do with this" moment.

I stage all my work- it all comes from images I have in my mind that I recreate- some happen by happy accident. Girls are brilliant. They come round with a big bag of shoes and goodies, have a glass of wine or 8 and we laugh a lot. The reason they want to come is to have some lovely photos that they can show to someone/ everyone/ nobody in the manner of Gok Wan's (love him) How to look good naked. Nobody thinks that's pornographic. Well, maybe the odd teenage boy without unfettered access to the internet! Even the fetish shoots I do, or the ones with a darker feel to them end up with us squealing with joy at the pics.

Then there are men. They come with no bag, just an erection and high hopes. No matter what I say, they'll say anything to get here and show me their pride and joy. My previous blog was in a joyous place called adultfriendfinder, if you know it then you know exactly the baptism of fire it is. It was pretty naive of me really, only because I don't handle dating sites marvellously well at the best of times.

Luckily it does have layers of activity and people on there that you wouldn't think exist at first glance and it makes more sense than you think as a way of researching. And it's the best illustration I can produce for why I and my friends have the experiences we do with men.

This is not an anti-male rant, it's an anti-advertising rant and an account of the triumph of hope over experience. If you look at the advertising for these sites you'd be forgiven for thinking that the suburbs are full to he brim of page three lovelies who like nothing better than going dogging with middle aged salesman. Sorry to burst your bubble guys. Ain't happenin. The harsh reality of these places, once the money has changed hands is that the men outnumber women about 30 to 1. You can check the site stats for each country.

And the women that are there are there for various reasons. A very very small fraction are reasonable looking women available for no strings sex with random strangers, many with the encouragement of a partner with cuckold fantasies who want to be there too or hear about it. The good looking young women on there are there to make money, they don't need to do it for free. The vast majority of men on there either have no pic or a close up view of their bits. No hearts and flowers- a short profile that pretty much says "what you see is what you get" and their expectations are to say the least- disproportionate! They send messages that say "u look hot fancy a chat" without reading the female profiles at all.

The webcam rooms are the most telling part of it. Maybe I'll describe that another time.

My place there was in the blog section. What I had thought was that I would find pure exhibitionists who would model for me without needing anything in return. I've known people like that. I made some interesting friends there- there's a subculture of people who understand the reality of it and are disillusioned with the original promises. They know how to make it work for them and when to give up.

What else I found there became a major source of inspiration, and was the part of it I hadn't counted on. The women who could deal with it and had invented a character to exist there. They posted up self taken photos and poetry, jokes, rants. They're the stars there. Their blogs are followed by men and women and there's a very strange phenomenon in the comments that men post after. There can be hundreds. Mostly pure veneration. And cut down to the essence they read like this

upforit44 says.... Pick me!

bigdick4u says.... Pick me!

wantutonight1968 says.... Pick me!

Facebook groups are the same. Photo comments that stretch out into hundreds. Men ignoring the fact that their comment is one of so many and is of a professional model who may or may not have any knowledge that their picture is there.

Women are so unaware of all this. After all, they don't go looking. Why would they.

So there they are, the great hopeful masses trawling with unending hope. And barely veiled hostility. Trying to keep the balance of "Maybe this is it- a real attractive woman who might respond" and "going by experience this is unlikely, it'll probably end with a trip to a paid cam site or a request for an airfare"

And there we are. The few real women, verifiable flesh and blood females who are expressing an interest in nakedness and sensuality. Is it surprising they try their luck with us the same as they would with any woman they believe has posted up a picture of herself as an invitation to look and/or touch? No. I'm not excusing it. It's the massive driving force that squeezes money out of every lonely or unfulfilled man sat by himself with a webcam.

All we can do is say~ sorry for the disappointment but the woman you believe me to be doesn't exist, I'm a painter not a prostitute, and if I ever go looking for a model or a lover, I certainly won't be sat here thinking that a picture of a limp penis and the words "u got msn" are going to find me my prince.



  1. Joanna......I could have written this blog post myself, almost word for word. We appear to living parallel lives, my friend.

    I've had to deal with so much unwanted male attention..I've given serious thought to stopping painting nudes altogether. Then I this why there are so few women painting female nudes? Are female nudes only ever to be painted by men, because the female artists are in effect "run out of town" by means of sexual harassment? Screw that.

    I don't know what we can do about it, but good on you for raising the subject and lets keep in touch.

  2. Thank you so much! I'm glad you identified with it- I hoped you would as I absolutely love your work and think you have the balance down perfectly of how to promote yourself and get the right customers.
    I had a very bad experience which made me feel backed into a corner and have now started to back away from accepting certain kinds of commissions- I can now identify the ones who are more interested in the "interaction" than the artwork.
    But it is a shame, I love what I do. I love erotic art and don't want to be forced out because of anyone else's misplaced perception of it. I also don't want to have to rebrand myself as a chaste serious artist. I'm just a suburban mum who likes lingerie, shoes and glitter and has a slightly warped sense of humour.
    And if the world don't like it.... Yes you're right- screw that!!
    Thanks again,
    Joanna :)

  3. Hi Joanna.
    I believe that your getting the whole issue out in the open is great, but: You have the problem, C has faced it, L has faced it, clearly Lee above has faced it- it seems to be pretty universal with no concerted efforts being made to calmp down or cut it out.
    If I may be so bold - and being one of the fat, middle aged men, I fear I will never face the problem myself that you face - your blog will do nothing but release some of your steam, as will all the others.
    Clearly, you are computer literate. Is it not within your capability to create an FB site/page on which you can post the unwelcome messages, with whatever identification is available, and to which you can all belong by invitation? In this way, the female artists can be notified of the freaks in good time, and can cut them off immediately they show up.
    Sadly, there are many who are looking for cheap thrills, but more who are above board, and who thoroughly enjoy your work, and envy your talent and would hate to see you disappear from the global eye.

  4. Mike- Thanks! I half thought I might come up against some hostility or be misunderstood and I'm so happy that it's been taken the right way.
    And hey- I never said fat! My last significant boyfriend was twenty stone and he was LUSH... I'm never gonna see size as a negative ;)
    As to what to do about it- I've spent a couple of days thinking about it- obviously you've seen what's been going on and I just don't think there's an easy answer. I'm one for writing an essay- the men who proposition me with any insistence end up with something very like what you see above, which is fairly emasculating and takes the wind out of their sails.
    I don't want anyone to think I'm anti-male, it's a specific group of men who do this. But we get it from everywhere. Facebook, our own websites, exhibitions, anywhere our art is visible.
    Maybe I'll think of something that at least acts as a deterrent. It's the kind of thing that hits me with a eureka moment in the middle of the night. It'd be kinda good to have a common point of reference that we could point each other to.
    Thanks again, any more suggestions are more than welcome :)
    Joanna x