Recognizing Real Women

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Another painting of a young beautiful girl, too young to have experienced real life and undeserving to be immortalized. I read a statement like this by an artist who is beginning a series of real women, but how is a viewer to recognize a real woman in a painting?

When I was 20 years old I hired a model who was just 19. She put me to shame when I complained about struggling to survive as an artist. She had been providing for herself for seven years, having left home when her dad began to abuse her. A thousand miles from home, on her own, she completed high school and had a job. Modeling on the side provided her with extra money that she used to extend her education. 

Most of the girls who work for me had other jobs - full time jobs. All were furthering their own education or helping a husband get an education. One 25-year-old was raising money for adult mentally handicap people to have a home of their own. She danced in a topless club to do this. Her feet were blistered, bruised and swollen from dancing. Another model was sending money home so her parents would not lose their home. These girls were earning their wrinkles and weathered look while they were young. Over the 50 years I've been working with young beautiful women I have heard some sad and some horrifying stories. All of them have become mothers and have raised some fine children. 

Not all models have had hard lives but not all have had easy lives. Several have gone onto become lawyers, one a veterinarian, another a professor of America Literature.

I've always enjoyed working with young, energetic women. I feel I am helping a bit with the money I pay them and by letting them study while posing. I've made a decent living from my art thanks to these girls. I've furthered my own education listening to them tell me about what they are studying. 

Very little of the tales told in my studio come through in my art, but if they do they enhance the quality I strive for and my own further studies of art. I am honored to have the opportunity to create my art from these real girls and feel obligated to do them justice on my canvases. 

While each artist feels their art is more than simple picture making, only the viewer can raise it to the level we desire.

Respect & Dignity

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Many years ago a portrait changed my thinking about art. It was of a woman and looked to have been done in the late 20s, early 30s. An intelligence radiated from the painting. I wanted to know the woman in this painting, not for her beauty but because there was a dignity and intellect about her coming from that painting. I was sure I could learn things from her. What? I do not know. I was so taken by the portrait I didn't check out who created this work of art, I was just lost with who she was.

Paintings up till then were simply pretty, beautiful works of art. If I could paint a pretty picture of a pretty girl I was happy. That portrait made me rethink what art is, and what I wanted from it. My working with models changed too and I also began to think about what others were seeking from their own art. 

Respect and dignity are two ideas that are present during every session when working with a model. Models are giving of themselves to the works of art they are involved with. Some artists feel they are the soul creators of a work of art, but for me the model contributes a great deal beyond their physical presence. I can sense their respect for what we are doing. That respect enhances the work and I need to feel that respect flowing both ways. Presenting them in a dignified way is important to them and to me. I carry these ideas into all my work. Like making a still-life mine by adding personal items or setting up potted plants in my window, something I grew up with at home. The buyer also becomes important, my respect for my client comes through via the quality of my materials and my work itself. Doing a piece they can be proud of is very important to me. Originality and the unusual come into play here. I want and need to give my clients original works of quality.