Friday, July 25, 2014
July 25, 2014
July 25, 2014
Throughout my early career as an illustrator for various companies like Colgate, Fisk Tires, and numerous publications, I resolved to quit doing commercial work, and devote the rest of my time doing paintings. I would hire young women who I have met through various social circles to be my models. Occasionally I would use myself as a model, because I have been informed that I’m quite beautiful in my own fashion. Nevertheless I have used various models on a regular basis for some years now. In my work, I have a definite idea of the perfect landscape, and the coloring of that world is extremely important to me. For my paintings, I would build landscape models on a large table, and use different lighting effects to capture the right combination of the mountains, the lake, and if there are any actual structures, I would also make an exact replica of that building. Mostly my work is neoclassical, and the nude bodies that are in my work (including yours truly) are usually androgynous, but placed in these fantastical settings.
Susan Lewin worked for me not only as a model, but also as my assistant. There is the cliché about the artist and his model, and I have to say in this case, it is perfectly true. For about five years, I painted her in various positions of her, but mostly when she’s in the nude. When I used myself as a nude model, I have her photographed me so I can distance myself so I can be added to the painting. The distance between us became less and less, as I demanded her attention as her employer. For years now, I would pay her in cash on a weekly basis, usually on Fridays, by placing the money on the side table by the entrance of my studio. There is not anything else on this table except for the money. Over time, this table has become almost an erotic object between me and her. Even when I have other models here, I paid them differently, usually by check. A check is very non-personal, but cash has an intimate effect, and when she leaves for the day, and picks it up before she exits, it gives me an erotic jolt.
I have determined that I have to redefine our relationship where I’m basically the leader, and she’s the follower. What I would do is bring up the idea that the outside world of my studio is a hostile environment, and what I do here is paint beautiful landscapes, and therefore not only are we making our own paradise here, but also supplying the outside world a place of imagination where they can escape to. The thing is, I want to be able to focus on my work, but I want her to do the same, on my work of course. There is still a nagging fear that she will leave me for another occupation or a need to share her life with someone else. I never ask her what she does when she is not working with me, nor do I know about her relationships with other people. For the eight-hours per day that she is with me, she is mine and that is all I care about. Over time, I realized that my idealized world is not only in the imagination, but is actually based on our relationship. What looks decorative in my paintings is actually the way I want the world to be, and therefore, I rarely participate in the outside world. There is a moment, usually before she leaves, that we look at the work that was done that day, and with only the music by Johnny Hodges in the background, I almost want to tell her that I love her, but that can never compare or compete with a finished work of art.