Posing for Art – in Tantric style
This email was received from a reader in New York. It’s worth reading and she has permitted me to post it, albeit I’ve deleted her name for privacy reasons.
Subject: Your Blog
You might not get many emails like this and you don’t know me but I’m a regular reader of your blog.
I might be an unusual reader because I’m a female artist and photographer. I live in New York.
I wanted to add my 2 cents to the subjects you’ve included in your blog and say that a lot of this turns out to be useful in helping me with my art.
Mostly my art is interpretation of the human form. I use everything from oil on canvass to watercolor to pen & ink. I also often use photographic images to combine. I also teach drawing and composition in private art classes. Please read on and don’t imagine this is a pitch to get you to include my pictures on your blog. Its not about that.
I’ve been a professional artist for many years and specialize in human figure work as its always appealed to me as offering the best chances to produce unique work. Every body is completely unique and ever changing and I like to capture those changes ‘in the moment’.
I have many artist friends who have the same experience as me when trying to find session models. Its not difficult to find female models to pose but not so in finding male models.
If its just me painting or a class its usually not easy to find a male who can pose, often nude, to suit the needs of the artists. I think the convention is that its easier for females to feel comfortable about posing than males. Also conventions in our modern society have tended to prefer to view the female form than the male, although I think some things are changing in regards to that statement.
Part of my difficulty might have been in my approach to what I want to portray and I’ll say how I’ve solved the problem, personally, although I know generally that I’m not alone whatever the artistic approach requires.
Early in my career I found that capturing the human form was mostly a very sterile experience especially considering the excitement that the human body can generate. Artists are usually so concentrated on their work that the actual energy of the subject often escapes. Apologies to the many who do capture the energy of their subject.
In classical works portraying nudes, the energy is often captured, somehow, and we find that shared between the sexes.
My purpose and enjoyment has been to specialize in capturing sexual energy and tension and that is not a sterile task. It means asking a model not just to pose but actually to allow themselves to be part of an energy and image that can be observed by an artist and transferred to a canvass.
That’s asking a lot of any model and particularly a male model. I’m asking someone to pose in a state of sexual awareness or arousal which is a difficult thing for many to imagine in the usual art studio atmosphere. Mostly in figure work we encourage artists and students to ignore the elephant in the room and certainly never to venture personal approval or comment about the model.
My solution to the problem occurred when I met a guy giving massage in tantric styles, mostly to other men. We got talking and I told him what I did and what the problems often were. What he told me was very similar to what’s in your blog which is that tantric experience seems to allow people to be able to get more enjoyment from the sensuality of their bodies and to enjoy themselves for longer. Also to be less inhibited without being antisocial.
I didn’t know much about tantric massage etc. but I asked the guy if he’d like to pose at a small class that I had coming up to see if his ideas worked.
He agreed and I held the session at my studio. I think there were 4 artists at different levels of skill or objective.
At the time I wanted to sketch and paint a male in a state of heightened arousal, combining the facial expression with the genital expression. That was the objective of all of us to varying degrees.
My tantric friend said he understood what I intended and delivered beautifully. He was completely confident in himself and gave the room an energy which did seem to inspire the artists.
Since then I’ve been able to invite, through my friend, many of his clients, also to pose and we’ve been able to focus and capture so much of the human form, in my opinion, in unique ways.
I’ve also come to learn more about tantra and have actually posed for a few sessions myself.
I’d say to any of your tantric readers that this is a practical use of the energy and erotic control that can be learned and that appreciation of the human form is something that should be encouraged and that sexual energy can actually be seen and experienced through the brush and canvass where the artist and model can move themselves to the same wavelength.
I hope this is of interest to you.
By the way, I should mention that as a female artist, equally curious about the male form, and the female form and all gender forms I enjoy working with all sexes.
Whatever the gender mix I say the same thing, that the model is completely deserving of our deep respect and gratitude. Its not an easy thing to reach and maintain a state of arousal in a group of people.
To all participants I say that they will themselves likely experience a sexual energy and they should use that to encourage their work. Often these sessions have given artists a very different view of sexuality in art than conventional figure sessions.
We’ve encouraged requests and positive comments and at times have posed two models at the same time. We’ve created a studio atmosphere that encourages artist/model communication. Although the standard of work necessarily varies, none in the classes are there to judge. Personally I’ll help when I’m asked. The surprising thing for me is how uniquely inspired the finished pieces so often are. Also how much more comfortable everybody is able to become with their physical selves through such uninhibited artistic interaction.
To be able to absorb so closely aspects of the human body that are often only brushed over has been most exciting for me and others.
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