I was recently interviewed for Bear World Magazine. It was really cool to be asked to answer questions about my artwork and thoughts on art and the political climate. It was the first time I have ever been interviewed for anything getting published that I can remember. I've been interviewed by researchers for Jupiter and other research firms when I worked on Wall Street and as a fashion designer, but never for anything like this. I felt like a celebrity for about 10 minutes.
It also got me thinking about why I am drawing and painting and what I want out of it. Because I am not doing it in a vacuum.
I suppose I want Art to be my dream or vision that pulls me along to great circumstances. Like I shouldn't even question what I want because I am just following where the artwork itself takes me and one day I will wake up in some dream world I never could have envisioned for myself if I tried. And I want to be a star in my own, quiet, controlled sort of way. I always fantasized about winning the “best supporting actor” academy award. I wanted to be in a cool band that not everyone knew about... So, I guess, I would love to be respected and sought after and financially secure, but not demanded from, overwhelmed, and put too much in the spotlight.
Truth is, I have what I want. I live in a beautiful house with a great husband and two cats (and soon a puppy!). I have busy, full days every day. I have a full social life. I have work options available to me. What do I want from painting and drawing?
I have a hunger to be terrific at what I do. I'm not competitive with other artists at all. I have no desire to win contests and stand over anyone else like a star. I want to do amazing work that moves people, that turns them on, that makes them feel that love for people and life that I felt as a teenager when all my feelings were so accessible and immediate. I want to give people joy and inspire them to kiss someone or do something extraordinary.
Why do I want that? Because I hate feeling trapped in routine and unable to appreciate what I have. I have been depressed before and I hate that feeling of wondering why I am alive and when is it going to be over and not knowing if it is going to stay so damn hard just to do all the basic stuff that I know can come easy and does for many others. Because I believe that I can inspire other people. I can be some kind of strength that they need and I want to be useful. And maybe I can't crawl into other people's messed up lives and situations and guide them because I am not expert in their troubles.
But then again, people trying to directly help me often felt invasive and untrue to me. I am not talking about the kind of help that a mom gives when she comes in and takes you out of a bad situation as a kid. Or the kind of help that actually works, like being given enough money for rent for a few months while you get back on your feet with no strings attached. The kind of “help” I never liked was a deep rooting through my psyche by amateurs who have their own agenda and warped judgments. And that kind of help, proffered by well-intentioned people and books and magazines is everywhere, uninvited and pervasive.
No, unless I was actually going to be carried through something by someone else, I have had little use for "help". But Inspiration was a different story. Movies, art, music, photography, pets, volunteering, travel, all these things have always kicked up some energy in me and got me moving in the right direction.
I remember being in an awful lonely state of mind and picking up an old Time/Life series book on great places in the world. One of them was on the Alhambra. The Alhambra is this beautiful old palace in Granada, Spain that was built when Spain was part of Islam. The photos really inspired me. The designs on the walls, the architecture, the beautiful landscape... I knew I had to travel. I didn't know why. I just got turned on and hungered for discovering the world. This hunger took me out of my depression. The next year I was standing in the Alhambra.
I want to give people a reason. And some hunger.
And I draw people I kind of hunger for. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to sleep with them. I am in a stable, solid, monogamous relationship with my husband and I want to keep it that way. I have enough on my plate without adding stirred up ocean-floor emotions that come with getting physical with other people. I am not criticizing anyone who has an open relationship or is polyamorous, I am just not at this time in a state of mind to be able to go down that road. I am loving my structure and my boundaries now in my life and believe me, they are keeping me safe and healthy.
But I see these incredibly beautiful men on Facebook and Instagram and Tumbler and TV and wherever. I think to myself on a daily basis “God outdid himself with this guy...” There's a combination of emotion that arises in me as I am bombarded with beautiful man after beautiful man. “Why can't I look like this?” “That's so much work to get a body like that” “He would never love me.” “He's so out of my league” “I would have loved being able to see images like this when I was a teen, it's too bad I had to look at underwear ads in magazines” “I hope they are not on too many steroids” “Are they nice?” “What does narcissism really mean and are these guys that?” “How wonderful that I can see these incredible men!” “I should be going to the gym every single day for 3 hours each day... just for a while.” “Is botox good for you?” “How lucky this guy gets to wake up looking like that. His life must be so different from mine.” “I hope they are happy.”
I have only met a few of the guys that I have drawn. There are a few I talk to quite a bit. A few guys I draw over and over and we have become friends through art. Most guys I have drawn have been really appreciative and thoughtful in their words. There are some very beautiful, kind men out there. They are the majority of the men I have drawn.
I try not to draw requests. I do my best when my “spidey sense” picks what I should draw next. And a lot of time it's not someone I would have planned to draw. It's the light hitting a face, or the contours of a body or just some image's energy. And I say to myself “that works”. If I try to draw someone how they want, I don't usually like the results. And if I am doing a request, I tighten up a bit, just trying to “get it right”. I'm actually not very good at getting my artwork to look like the subject which is confusing to me because I put so much work into capturing the energy and beauty of my subjects and they often come out really beautiful, but not them... So I can't do portrait commissions. It just won't work. Those street artists who do caricatures actually do a better job of making their artwork look like the source than I do... Only a couple times has someone sent me a photo and I said, “that's perfect” and it all worked out. I will draw people who ask as practice, but it is just as likely that I might not ever show the results of that work.
I don't want to be an artist for hire. I don't need the money at this time. I have other skills that I would much rather use to make me money. I am an ESL teacher and I love love love teaching. I've never had more fun at work than when I am teaching a room full of diverse people from all over the world how to use the Present Perfect tense... I had a whole career in fashion and I would even rather go back to that than to become an artist doing commissions.
So I am not sure I know exactly what I want from doing my artwork, but it's certainly a lot. I encourage anyone out there who has a nebulous, undefined desire to do something (healthy) to go out and do it without questioning it too much and see where it takes you. It may take you to where you want to be.