Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Seeing red

Last week when I saw my usual model I had a basic idea for a painting but after trying a couple of poses in watercolour I decided I wasn't at all happy at the outcome for various reasons, it just wasn't working and the colours and tones were far too weak. I wanted to do a long vertical red painting and tried the model in various tall poses but they just didn't work somehow. Mmmm...... rethink. And this week I realised that I'd been going about it the wrong way and I'd be better doing a long horizontal painting instead! Yay! Far better! And to get the stronger colour I was after I changed the medium to acrylics as they are far more vibrant and get a better result far quicker and more assuredly than watercolours. Success! I also decided to paint the whole background in a rich scarlet to start with which instantly gave me my mid tones and then all I needed to do was pick out the lights in the painting and add the darks and it was complete. The composition was something that came to me with one of those instants of brilliance too. So I got the model to lie on a long sofa, with a table lamp to the side of her, highlighting her breasts and long shapely legs, and painted the composition as it was. Since the light and her arm nearest to it were the lightest parts of the painting, I captured those first, letting the rest of her body fade towards the darkness at the other end of the painting. To add interest to the sofa I put golds and purples in with the cushions surrounding the model and am really delighted with the result of it! It works beautifully as a composition, I love the colours of it, the rich vibrant reds, and the paler tones of the womans skin. Her pose is at ease, elegant and alluring. She's confident in herself and delights in being admired in her rich setting. I think it's sensual, erotic and graceful. And the title of this painting? Well, it could have been a number of titles, but I've settled on "Lady with the lamp". And I know I've done a good painting because I keep wanting to look at it! And that's always a good sign!!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Pretentious twaddle

I'm going to say something and I'll try hard really really hard not to use any swear words to tell you......... but I'm gonna be really struggling with this, so bear with me..........

Lots of people give me things that they think may be of interest to me, especially if it's to do with art, and this morning was no exception, as I was given a pamphlet about an art exhibition for a group of artists. I'm always interested to read about other exhibitions, even though I rarely buy art (because I'm in the business of selling it!) and I flicked through it with half interested attention until I read one of the phrases in it and instantly went into *rant* mode! WHAT THE FUCK????!!!! ..........(Told you I wouldn't be able to tell you without swearing!!!) - Well, I'll tell you what it was and you tell me what you think, cos I know what I think about it!!! The pamphlet was about the exhibition and gave a few brief details about the artists exhibiting then said:

"Placed in the company of the others, each body of work affects the viewing experience of the next, while retroactively changing the memory of the preceding one"

Yeh? Well, what a surprise! Of course it does! Anything would! That's how the brain works!!!! WHATEVER you look at affects what you next look at and is affected by what you JUST looked at - whether its baked beans on a supermarket shelf, guys in a bar, flowers in the desert, clouds in the sky or questions in an exam. But to use this as a selling phrase for an exhibition of paintings seems to be stating the bleeding obvious to me (you see, I'm swearing again!). Of course viewing one painting will affect the viewing experience of the next, that's what images DO, no matter WHAT the image is of. We all do it, all day, all the time!

This rant and my thoughts on it has reminded me of two separate conversations I had over the weekend, one late at night in the pub and one with other artists (and not the erotic lot I was with on Sunday) and it seems to me that I just don't understand the bollocks (you see, more swearing!!) that surrounds modern art. Why does a piece of artwork need to be explained? Why does it have to have "intellectual" artyspeak to describe it? Why can't it stand up on its own with out having to be propped up by fancy words? It seems quite easy to me, if its a piece of art it should be self explanatory. And it can evoke emotions in others one way or another (and it doesn't always have to be in a positive way) and it should speak to the viewer, and the viewer should be able to tell that some sort of artistic talent has gone into painting it (not that a child of three, an elephant, or someone just out to rip off other people, has produced it). I don't mind looking at a painting of a blue box on a red background so long as I feel that that image is created by an artist. I don't like every realistically painted painting I see, I don't like every old masterpiece I see, and I love some modern art, but I want to feel that I LIKE the painting because I can relate to it, not because someone has TOLD me its good. We're back to the "Emperors new clothes" aspect of art again. Its the only way I can describe it! (Whoops, I almost swore again!!!!).

Right, I'm off to paint a picture, and something that's NOT white spots on a white background!!!!!

And if you want to you can tell me how the painting on the left "speaks" to you, and what deep emotions it evokes. And after that I'll tell you that its part of the painting on the right, and I bet you get a different emotion from THAT one!!!

Monday, 21 April 2008

A gathering of eroticness

Since I joined the Guild of Erotic Artists in October last year I've not had chance to go to any of their "Event" days but yesterday I was able to change that state of affairs! I've only met a very few of the members briefly at the Erotica show at Olympia in London last November so it was good to go to the Beaumont Hall Studios in Hertfordshire and meet some more of them and compare notes on erotic art and life in general! I know it can be daunting walking through the door of somewhere when you don't know anyone, and have never been there before, but everyone I spoke to had a ready smile, made good eye-contact and made me very welcome. I felt quite at home, helped of course by the fact that there were tasty sausage sandwiches and endless hot cups of tea! I was able to spend time chatting and getting to know people and put faces and names together. I know when I've joined art organisations before, part of the "getting to know you" aspect is also learning who does what sort of art and learning their particular styles and techniques. In some cases I can instantly recognise a painting I've never seen before, just because I recognise the style of the artwork of the artist, as individual as someones handwriting!

Everyone I spoke to was down to earth, helpful and full of good advice on selling, promotion, producing art and techniques for creating art. There were models there as well as artists and photographers and sculptors. A couple of the guys there had some of their artwork in portfolios and I must admit I had a smile to myself when one of them asked me "Would you like to see my etchings?" - normally that's a euphemism for a man trying to seduce a woman, but in this case, he just wanted to show me his erotic etchings and talk about the art! How refreshing!

Most of the time I was there I spent the time chatting to a photographer and found him delightful company! He's been in the guild for a bit longer than me and was more than happy to discuss his photographic art and there were some interesting comparisons to my work, even though he's a photographer and I'm an artist. We had a similar outlook on catching the light in our art and determining what we considered to be "erotic" within art. I know there is no definitive definition of what makes "erotic" but he and I seemed to be in agreement of what we basically agreed it to be...... that frisson of subtle interest that makes you wonder what's going to happen next....MMMmmmmm!! And we also compared notes on who had the easier technique for capturing the "moment" - as far as I'm concerned I think that photographers have a more difficult time as they only have a split second to capture the "instant" of the erotic image, whereas an artist can change whatever they want to make the image more "interesting" by changing the composition, the lighting, the colours, and the focal point. But, interestingly he thought artists had the worse time of it, because then they had to spend hours creating that one image that he could capture in as many "split seconds" as he wanted. Mmm.... an interesting and thought provoking comparison! We also discussed which sex had the easier time of it as a producer of erotic art. I think it must be easier for men than women to work in the business, because as a woman I think it's more difficult and you might be opening yourself up to undesirable attentions from men who might perhaps think that you're offering more than just art. Whereas my photographer friend thought it was a lot easier for women painting erotic art as they wouldn't be viewed as "perverts" whereas maybe an older man photographing younger women would be! Ok, that's got me thinking too! Maybe he's got a point!

Later on I had the opportunity to talk to one of the models there. She's more mature than some of the other models, and it was refreshing to hear her down to earth views on body shape and being comfortable within your own skin rather than worrying over your body shape because it's less than perfect (than the photos that appear in glossy magazines when all the blemishes have been airbrushed out if it anyway!). I think a lot of men prefer women who are comfortable with their bodies and happy within themselves. Although I equally know that doesn't stop women searching for the perfect shape and wanting to improve on what nature has given them!

So, all in all a good, positive and productive day. I'm looking forward to my next visit!

Friday, 18 April 2008


I did an erotic drawing this week, and I'm half happy with it. I'm not sure why I'm not fully happy with it, but perhaps it's because it's only a simple drawing. I found it interesting because it was basically a life drawing pose but I wanted to make it look more like an erotic pose, so I gave the breasts more light and was able to put in more detail in that area too and left the rest of the body in darkness. I was also interested in the shape of the models arm as she lay infront of me, as it led in towards her body and made an interesting Z shape. Diagionals always add more interest to a painting, so perhaps that was why I was so fascinated with the shapes. The model was happy with it too, as she said she could have gone to sleep in this position. Perhaps that's where I got the idea from for the title, it was her snoring! ZZZZZZzzzzzzzz!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Filling the wall

I've spent the last few days updating and twiddling with my website and am delighted with the way it's looking now! Have a look and tell me what you think. I've put on the latest new images including the two erotic landscapes, some non erotic landscapes and some erotic images. (It's just struck me that my life would be a whole lot easier if I just painted one subject matter along the lines of a tiger-and-naked-woman-in-a-fantasy-erotic-landscape-scenario.....MMMmm... yes, but then I'd get bored, so I'll continue to do the landscapes, erotic landscapes, erotic, tigers, women, fantasy, mythical creatures and amalgamations of them all and that'll keep me amused, and hopefully amuse you too!).

And I'm also delighted to announce that I'm working in conjunction with a company called blanc wall® and we can now offer one of my artworks as a whole wall of art. So instead of hanging a painting on the wall, you can decorate the whole wall instead! How good is that!!? So, if you fancy a tiger in the bedroom (and let's face it, don't we all!) a mermaid in the bathroom (now, there's an idea!), a naughty landscape in the lounge or a naked woman in the kitchen, now's your chance! blanc wall® can scan my original artwork, picking up all the fine details, and transfer them to a wallcovering to fit any size wall. The future of interior design, blanc wall® produces bespoke wallpaper for living and working environments using an innovative 3D scanning technique which enables reproductions of original fine art. blanc wall® has been created by combining some of the most innovative print technology of the decade with the visions of some of the most experienced artists and interior designers around. They use advanced 3D scanning techniques that capture every true detail both in terms of accurate colour and texture. Their unique system allows the image to be re-sized without the loss of detail, and visually the reproduction appears 3-dimensional.

I am delighted to work in conjunction with blanc wall® and offer this bespoke service to you.
So, if you're interested, contact me, and I'll happily discuss it with you. I will also happily consider any commissions for the wallcovering too. So, if you've got an idea (wicked or otherwise!) and you want me to paint it for you, email me!

Friday, 11 April 2008

If I'm not mistaken

Do you wanna hear a funny story? Well it certainly amused me greatly ..........
I'll share it with you and see what you think........

The other week a woman I know as a distant acquaintance from many years ago contacted me regarding wanting a painting done as a surprise for her husbands forthcoming birthday. She wanted a dog painting to match the previous one I had done for her some years ago. I couldn't remember doing it at all even though she was adamant I had and had told various friends of hers who admired it, that I was a good artist and how much she liked my work and was going to commission me again. It surprised me that I couldn't remember painting it, but since she was adamant I had, I put it down to a lapse in my (normally very good) memory. I said I'd be happy to paint another painting for her whilst wracking my brains about the original one I couldn't picture at all. She said she'd take some photos of the dog and we agreed to arrange my visit to her this week. As she gave me directions to her house, I knew I had certainly been there before, so presumed it must have been in connection with the painting I had done for her, which is why I could remember the house so well (although it's a very distinctive and beautiful house so it wasn't hard to remember). When I got there, she welcomed me in, and we sat chatting over coffee, discussing art, dogs, travel, cooking and various other general topics and it was only when she asked me if I had previously painted under the name "J Cross" that I realised why I couldn't remember the painting. I HADN'T DONE IT! Aah, that would explain things!! But she had asked me to paint the picture because she thought I had!! Whoops!!!! She thought the mistaken identity hilarious. And I must admit I do too! And the ironic thing is she still wants me to paint the picture as two heads of the same dog, and if she likes it enough will commission me to paint another head of previous dog of hers that has since died. So, I'm hopefully getting two commissions out of it, and all because she thought I was someone else! Yay! Good for me! Er, yes, but bad for the person who did the original painting. Not good for them at all!!! I was pleased though that the woman thought me more professional than the original artist, and I think I'll paint a better picture too. Hopefully she'll think so as well.

.........and I've remembered why I went to her house originally, and it's nothing to do with art at all!

So, I'm back on dog portraits again. I think I might seriously re-consider whether I'm in the wrong job. Perhaps I should do dog portraits for a living instead!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Tree of life

Well, you've all been very patient, and now comes the time of the big unveiling! If you can remember back into the far distant mists of memory of last November, dj kirkby asked me if I could paint an erotic landscape for her, and I happily said I would. It was exactly the same week that Willsibob asked me the very same question (although his painting was totally different) so then I had a few problems juggling commissions and getting them ready for the Christmas deadline. After a brief discussion with dj kirkby, she decided she'd be happier to leave the painting for Chopper until his birthday at the end of March. This suited me very well, as I needed to spend a lot of time planning the picture. Because what she was asking for was very challenging to do. She wanted the painting to look like an erotic couple AND look like a landscape. So, to innocent eyes, the painting would be innocent, and to knowing eyes, the painting would be erotic. Mmmm...... Plus, she wanted the couple to BE the landscape as well. So, two pictures in one. Quite a daunting task!!!

To begin the painting I knew I would have to start with the couple themselves, and somehow make them the geography of the landscape. And as I had to check each time that dj kirkby and I were on the same wavelength I emailed her at each stage of production for her feedback. Firstly with the original sketches, then as she ok'd them, with the working drawings, then building up on that, until we got to a final design we were both happy with. From then I had to do a working painting so that I could work out the colours, the lighting, the contrasts and any other fine details that needed looking at. And sent that to dj kirkby to make sure she was happy with it. She was. That took the best part of three months, along with an awful lot of thought in between times! But, once I had a good working drawing that I was happy with, the rest flowed! The final painting was done in only a few weeks, but by then I only needed to follow my working painting as all the thoughts had gone into it by then. I worked hard on it, as I knew she wanted it for Choppers birthday and I was going away in mid March and had to send it to her and know she had received it before I went!

So, the great unveiling! You can see sky, cliffs, sand dunes, rocks, a beach, a tree, a cave, the sea and a phallic looking lighthouse. But, what else do you see..................? I'm delighted with the painting. It is both erotic and a landscape. And the title? It's called "Tree of life" because although the tree in the painting is the womans arm and hand, the tree is also situated where their bodies are joined, where they are creating life.

And I know I shall be painting more pictures like this, as they are unique. And I like painting unique pictures. So, who wants the next erotic landscape.........................?

Friday, 4 April 2008

East to West

I've not blogged recently because I've been away - on holiday - to Japan and Dubai. A bit of an odd mix I know, but Dubai was a stop-over on the way back from the main trip to Japan. I had planned and expected that I would be able to blog whilst over there, BUT found that I had limited access to computers and the Internet and typing on a Japanese keyboard is extremely frustrating when it keeps reverting to Japanese characters and I wasn't sure which key I'd pressed that had done it! So, I had to keep my blogging limited to comments only!

Anyway, I'm back, and ready to tell you my tales, especially the bits that relate to erotic art! I love seeing different cultures and how other people live. And I think the Japanese are perhaps one of the most interesting cultures I've ever experienced. They are extremely polite people, entrenched in their respect for everything and each other, and totally efficient in absolutely everything they do. They know Westerners are different to them, both in looks and attitude and accept that. But as a visitor you try to fit in and adapt as much as possible (and I look about as different as you can do to any Japanese person!!!). But even though they are perhaps more reserved than some cultures, they still have their quirks, and some of them surprised me! One of them was their obsession with heated toilet seats. I know this is going to sound strange, but virtually everywhere I went as I travelled around Japan had heated toilet seats with a built in bidet where you could adjust the temperature, and pressure of the water, and reach all sorts of strange places with it! (And I'll leave the rest of THAT to your imagination!!!!). During my travels I stayed in a ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn) walking barefoot on tatami matting, eating at low tables whilst dressed in a yakata (light cotton robe tied at the waist) sleeping on a futon, eating very odd things (I'm not so keen on raw fish or cooking my own octopus I've decided!) and it also included communal (but segregated) nude bathing in a scalding hot bath as part of the experience. I had read up about this before I went because I knew it was very important to follow the rules of showering thoroughly before hand, allowing the water to get hotter and hotter so that when, after at least ten minutes of showering, scrubbing, washing hair, soaping, and getting as clean as was at all possible, it was then time to walk over to the communal bath and immerse in the scalding hot water to feel invigorated and relaxed. The purpose of thoroughly cleansing first due to the fact that everyone sat in the same water, and it was deemed rude to not be scruptiously clean first. But, for me as a Westerner I found it more fascinating, because I was ignored. Even though I knew they were probably watching me from the corners of their eyes,when I wasn't aware of it, as they certainly knew I was there, but wouldn't have openly stared at me. Not for any reason, other than their innate politeness. It was like I didn't exist, and that I found strangely erotic, like being a voyeur. And it was certainly fascinating as an erotic artist to see the communal scene of women washing themselves, the spray of water, the steam rising from pale wet skin, the long black hair, flash of nipple and dark pubic hair. To hear the chatter and laughter amongst themselves as they washed their hair, and soaped their soft skin. I have certainly added it to my list of erotic scenes to paint at some time in the future!

I also knew that when I was in Kyoto I wanted to go in search of the Geisha girls, if they still existed. I wasn't sure that they still did. But having read "Memoirs of a Geisha" and seen the film, I wanted to see if I could find any last vestiges of this most erotic of Japanese womanhood. I know the Geisha are entertainers, not sex workers, but I still think there is something very erotic about them in a doll like, non sexual way, if that makes sense? So, I set out to Gion, the area of Kyoto where they are reputed to be, and found that the area is now just nightclubs and backstreet bars and dubious signs over dark doorways. No sign of anyone there at all during the day. Sigh. What a pity. Never mind, it's not to be, I tried, at least. So, to explore the area further I crossed the main road into a labyrinth of quiet lanes of tiny houses with minuscule and immaculate bonsai gardens next to small dark wooden restaurants, and there I turned a corner, and before me was...... three Geisha girls, with their painted doll like faces, their elaborately tied kimonos, tottering down the street, hanging on to each other's arms as they chatted on their way to a local tea house to entertain the business men. Wow!!! Double WOW!! They do exist after all! I was entranced. How wonderful. How sexy. How erotic they were. And as I explored that area of Gion more (as that was where I still was, I was just in the wrong part of it before) I came across other Geisha, and was delighted at my find. So gorgeous, with their white painted faces, and red vermillion lips, the makeup so carefully applied, their kimonos a vibrant mix of exotic colour. I can understand why the Japanese men find them so desirable. But, do Western men? Tell me what you think - are they attractive to your eyes? Do you find them sexy? Or erotic?

So, it seems, the Japanese are more restrained than I'm used to, but I very much respect their culture. I certainly would have been very circumspect about telling them my profession if the subject came up (it didn't) so it was some surprise to me to find the egg cups. I wasn't expecting them. Particularly where I found them. I was just meandering through a tourist type shop on Miyajima Island, which is considered a spiritual place for relaxing holidays by the Japanese, and where I was delighted to find a new wooden trick box to add to my collection of wooden puzzles when my eyes fell upon the egg cups....... and widened in surprise! Because the images on them were certainly erotic! I smiled in delight! And had to buy them!!! What a wonderful find!!!

So, on to Tokyo, via Hiroshima (an incredibly poignant place, as you can imagine). And Tokyo was so delightful as the cherry blossom was out! Wonderful! And one of the reasons for going to Japan at this time of year was in the hope of finding the cherry blossom in bloom. I know the Japanese hugely celebrate it and can understand why now. It's the herald of spring, the end of the dark days of winter, and so stunningly beautiful to walk under the trees, with the sunlight catching the pale blossoms, the scent of spring in the air, and people promenading and picnicking under the trees, celebrating their natural and delicate pale beauty.

Whilst in Tokyo I had dinner with an architect and his psychologist wife. They're both English, live near me, and happened to be in Tokyo on holiday at the same time. I knew them both slightly and had not socialised with them before but found them both delightful dinner companions. They both work in subjects I'm deeply interested in - she with people, and he with creative design, so was delighted to hear more about their work, and their opinions on the Japanese, and they were more than happy to discuss erotic art! But I think the thing I found most exciting was listening to the architect and how he described his creative energy for designing his buildings. It was exactly the same way I work, except I'm an erotic artist working in 2 dimensions, and you would think totally different to him. But we were so similar in our thought process and how we came to the finished product. I loved the way he described the way that his work is not designing with bricks and mortar but is sculpting with light. How wonderfully exciting to do that!

And then, on to Dubai. A totally different place to Japan, with new cultures to be aware of, and since it's an Arabic country, it's expected that women cover up and don't flaunt themselves. No excess flesh on show. So I spent most of my time in public in light trousers and short sleeved tee shirts, no cleavage on show. And since it was extremely hot and sunny, sunglasses and a hat. I had forgotten what it's like to wear sunglasses.... because although you can see everything clearly, anyone looking at you cannot see your eyes. At all. They have no idea where you are looking, even when standing close to you. And because of that it means that they look at you differently. Because they presume you are NOT looking at them. How interesting, I found. Because, again not looking like the locals, I was looked at. Quite openly. And was very aware of masculine eyes on my body, and that because their women are covered, that they perhaps found looking at me erotic because they could see more of me, even though I wasn't dressed in the least erotically by Western standards. How interesting again, that different cultures find things erotic that other cultures don't at all. MMmmmm.........

So, all in all, I've learnt an awful lot whilst I've been away, and have come back with some fresh ideas. Oh yes!!