The Nudes

I learned something about myself tonight. I learned just how much sex comes into play with my art. Well lets be honest, sex comes into play with everything in life, but more so when I am in my studio working.  Before you start to think I have absolutely lost my cotton picking mind let me take you back a couple months. It all started when I began exploring nudes with pastels. My first attempt was horrifying.  I jokingly asked my friends to send photos so I could practice.  I never expected anyone to take me seriously but a good friend from high school actually took me up on it.

I imagine my readers feeling a tad creeped out right about now, however I will continue. When I first found my friend on Facebook, her husband was terminally ill.  I watched his passing and how her heart and life were torn apart. A little over a year later she found out she had cancer. This time I watched as her own body was torn apart.  I saw the gracious woman go bald and grow weak as she fought for her life and won.  She is now cancer free; a true fighter and survivor.  She asked me to make a nude of her showing all her survivor scars. There are many and they are large and she is rightfully proud of them. How could I not agree to this honor which she bestowed upon me?

While I waited for her photo I practiced a bit.   This time my nudes fared a little better, including a self nude.  Now it's not like I can show my nude to anyone for critique, though several of my male pals have asked, gee no surprise there.  The hubs has already banned me from sharing it. To be honest, I had indeed contemplated sharing; I have to admit that at 48 the breasts are still quite perky thanks to the bra tip my mom gave me when I first started wearing one, but I digress.

Soon her photo came and I have to admit, I was a tad creeped out myself.  I had to get past the fact that this is a woman I know, not some model of perfection. It's so easy to idealize what is sexy when we compare our self image with the air-brushed images created by artists.  Despite that, she has kept herself well, but that hasn't helped my hesitancy. It's not like I haven't witnessed my friends nude before, after all we changed and showered in gym class.

This really affected me somehow.  Perhaps it is my own fright at the pain and fear of cancer.  Fear can be quite limiting and I have learned how to overcome it from another dear high school friend who is a licensed hypnotherapist. She has helped me overcome far more than I ever thought I could. Yet the fear of this photo slipped deep in my gut and I set it aside, until tonight.

The guilt of not working on this piece of art has been eating at me.  The shame of it too because I can only imagine my friend wondering why I would be holding on to a nude of her for so long, I mean, was I getting off on it?  Was I some sicko?  I climbed the stairs to my studio and the work began. Then it hit me.

This absolutely image altering perception I have had about my art knocked the wind out of me. It was in that sickening moment that I first placed the pencil to paper for a photo that actually scared me, that I realized this nude is not giving me the satisfaction I have come to expect. It was in that moment that I realized I was not excited.  It's not like I am aroused when I am working, but there is something very powerful that takes place, and I could not allow  myself to feel that way as I stared at the nude photo of my friend. I am in awe of how much smearing around the charcoal affects my senses and it is incredibly heady. I found myself aching for the return of that headiness.

For this piece I will do my very best. I'm not sure if I can get past the apprehension I feel but I suppose I will begin feeling a little better about it as I get into it. I had better overcome my fear of cancer because I am embarking on getting rather intimate with my good friend's body as I recreate it on paper, in purple as she requested.