I have 2 nude paintings of myself and have posed for dozens more. I didn’t do it for money, art or college credits. I did it for other reasons….
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me start from the beginning….
Back in 2008, I was rolling up my yoga mat after a class when I was approached by a woman.
“I was wondering if you would consider posing nude for me” she said
We had been taking the same classes for a few weeks and other than a random pleasantry, we hadn’t really spoken at length so you can imagine my surprise at her question.
But, let’s fast forward through all the back and forth and get to the good stuff.
Sarah Holl (the woman from above), is a famously talented artist and one of the most beautiful souls I have had the pleasure of calling my friend. She welcomed me into her fabulous studio, quickly stripped me of my inhibitions and…quite obviously….my clothes. She painted numerous portraits of me….all nude, we drank dozens of bottles of wine and she convinced me to do something I still think about today:
I stood in the middle of a room full of people….nude…and let them paint me.
Sarah taught figure drawing classes in the evening. She was always looking for models. Would I be interested?
Being nude in front of a friend is one thing, but strangers? And men? What if they thought I was fat? Or worst, what if they thought I was too ugly to paint?
One evening, after a glass of cheap chardonnay, I hopped up on a platform and toss off my robe. The room was silent and 15 pairs of eyes examined every inch of my skin. They pored over my muscle tone, my love handles, the dimples above my butt and the scars on my knees.
Then, they started to paint.
And paint and paint and paint…
After 30 minutes, I was afforded a rest while most of the students took a cigarette break. I donned my robe and dared to peek at the canvases.
What I saw forever changed how I looked at myself.
In the eyes of the artists, I was beautiful. But, beautiful in a way I never thought possible.
As they say, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so was true for these creators. Each artist had chosen the part of my body they thought was most fascinating and placed it on their canvas. There was a study of just my foot. I’ve hated my feet since I was very young. As a teenager, I was teased about my size nines. All the other girls were growing breasts and I was the Michael Phelps of my high school class with my enormous flippers. But, on canvas, my foot looked strong, elegant and feminine all at the same time.
I had feared my naked breasts would be most prominently displayed because, Hey…Boobs! But, they seems like an quiet afterthought as the artists focused on the waves of my hair or the curves of my waist and the circle of my navel. The shadows my shape created were more appealing to them than the fact I had a vagina and here it was….for all to see. In fact, in most portraits, it was a softly blurred spot as if they respected the sanctity of my femininity.
In that moment, while viewing those canvases, I had never felt so beautiful and so brave. What I had viewed as my flaws had become gorgeous art.
This some of this gorgeous art now hangs in my home as a constant reminder that I was (and still am) brave. That what I think of as my flaws are beautiful. And above all, I had the balls (theoretically, of course) to put myself out there.
Does my story sound a bit cliche? In some way it does. But don’t judge me until you take your clothes off.