for Part 1, which really should be read first, click here
Naked as the day I was born…
Last night I received a compliment that was dressed in sheep’s clothing. I dare say it was the best backhanded flattery I’ve ever received. I had asked Traeger if the models they usually use are real (as in, gorgeous and ‘perfect’) models, because I don’t quite fit that mold (as in, I’m as tall as Heidi Klum’s left leg).
He answered, “Not really.” And then he said, “Actually, you’re too good looking and your body is too beautiful for this – I like to draw people that are filled with imperfections, it’s much more interesting. You’re going to be kind of boring.” Got it. I’ll take it. And, thank you.
Oh, and the answer to my last question? Yes, they really did expect me to get completely naked.
Vodka and atmosphere will get you far…
I’m not going to lie. Before I arrived at the nude modeling gig in question, I had two shots of vodka. On an empty stomach. And I’m kind of a lightweight.
And, wouldn’t you know, it helped. It also helped that all of the artists (even the famous ones) were incredibly sweet. I’m reading The Tipping Point (yes, I’m late to that party) – and I’m at the part right now about context and its massive influence on behavior. I witnessed this truth last night when everyone around me was so relaxed, the environment so warm and safe that I couldn’t help but feel that way too. It took me immediately from, am I really doing this? to Ohhhh…this isn’t scary, this is ART.
The truth, though, is that when I first considered posing, actually being naked and letting people dissect me with their charcoal and paints and pens, I was concerned. I mean, would the lights be bright? Would would I look like to them? Would it be unseemly? I couldn’t imagine being so exposed and I couldn’t imagine what they would see.
The moment of truth was the moment of taking off my clothes and stepping into the lights. I channeled Bull Durham: don’t think, just throw; don’t. think. just. throw. And it worked (so did the vodka). But then came something I hadn’t expected – I had to perform.
The first thing they had me do were one minute poses where I was told to contort my body in ways that I couldn’t hold for very long so ‘we’ could all warm up. Ahhh…I knew that I did over 500 hours of yoga teacher training for a reason. I did eagle pose, I did twists, I did all kinds of things.
It was actually harder to invent and find the next pose than it was to be naked. Interesting factoid. Ohhhh, maybe that was what they meant by warming me up.
Absorption & the love of writing…
Eventually, we moved on to the longer poses and then they wanted me to bring out my laptop which for me was a solid lifeline to my world. It was performance art, if you will. I tweeted, I worked on this post, I sent emails.
Yesterday morning, I became so absorbed in my work that it wasn’t until a client emailed me and remarked on the gorgeous weather that I shockingly realized it was no longer raining. And so immersed was I last night in my writing that, once again, I was able to completely forget my surroundings; in this case, that there were 7 people staring at me while I sat in front of them completely naked.
This sent me a clear and bright message. About me and about how much I love to write, how much I love what I do. How I picked the right thing.
And getting to see…
And then, we took a break. I have to tell you that any fear or trepidation that I had left completely disappeared when I looked at the artwork these brilliant and good people had produced. Some of the images look like me, some of them do not. But I get that they only don‘t according to me. They do according to these artists – they captured what they saw and that is entirely real and true.
And this is how it is for us as writers. We have a clear view, we write and describe and explore. Some people ‘see’ what we see, some people see something entirely different. It’s all true. And it makes us all very rich.
It is an extraordinary thing to see your self reflected in the eyes of another. It is.
But it is formidable to see yourself reflected in your own eyes.
There are some things that I decidedly did NOT do last night:
- I never said one negative thing about my body
- I didn’t make excuses
- I didn’t go on and on about my fears or insecurities
- I didn’t grab for any extra attention (cough, cough, there was enough)
Some of you will see that this is momentous. That a 36 year-old woman who has birthed one child and nursed two and grown up in this here culture could do this. Just say, yep this is me, let’s do this thing! The rewards were enormous.
To know that I saw a challenge, that I was invited to catapult myself out of my comfort zone, that I was going to throw caution to the wind and scare the shit out of myself and do it anyway.
It was extraordinary.
Below, you’ll find some of the pieces from last night. I’ve posted them here for a few reasons:
- …because it is another extension of my commitment to being seen and stretching myself and being me.
- …because I’m doing it for Womankind.
- …because these artists are so insanely gifted and I want to share them and their work with you. I’ve also listed their websites which I encourage you to explore. Remember last night was practice for them, these sites hold their finished work and showcase their true talents.
I’m not posting these images:
- …so that you’ll pump my self-esteem, stroke my ego or otherwise tell me that I look good or bad. It’s really not about that. I’m not asking for it, I don’t want it and I don’t need it. It’s about the experience and the art. Remember, these are artist renderings done in 20 minute spots – for all you know, this isn’t even what I really look like! Thanks in advance for donning your art lenses as you peruse.
Omar Rayyan: studiorayyan.com
Steve Lohman: lineartgallery.com (FYI, Steve’s wire sculptures are all over the globe (and in the Guggenheim) and the photo above does not do that piece (or the other 2 he created magnificently in minutes) justice.)
Sheila Rayyan: studiorayyan.com
Nina Lisa Maria: cobaltfineart.com
Jennifer Strachan: mvmosaics.com (Jennifer’s work isn’t above, but her mosaics were all over the studio last night. They are INCREDIBLE.)
Traeger dePietro: traegerdipietro.com (Whose inspired idea this was in the first place. Thanks babe.)