Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Litmus Test

Blue Balls for Scarlet…not truly part of the Chicks with Balls series,
but significant in its development

So Chicks with Balls was now officially a concept, but that and $4.95 will get you a Latte Grande at Starbucks.

CWB stayed on my back burner as I tried to develop my painting skills.
I continued to paint people…friends, models, commissions as much as I could. I sometimes would get together with artist friends and hire a shared model at the art studio in my home.

One such model was my friend Cindy, an active mother of triplets who were now three very active teenagers. Cindy is also a registered nurse and a highly accomplished belly dancer. A few artists and I hired Cindy to pose for us in full belly dancing costume while we painted her.

Cindy is also a devout Catholic with traditional views on a number of things. Over the years, however she has softened to my liberal heathen ways, as my respect for her faith has grown, seeing how beautifully she has used it to raise her terrific kids.

At the end of one of the modeling sessions, Cindy and I were the only ones left. We started chatting about kids, school, her daughter’s experience on the volleyball team and how my paintings were piling up in my studio and home. She said to me, what many people do without realizing just what a daunting and complex multi-layered comment it is, “You should have a show!” It’s kind of like saying, “You should get married!”…while yes, it would be nice, there’s a lot that goes into it and if it’s not right it’s a terrible waste of time.

At this point, I had not yet shown much, nor accomplished much artwise besides occasionally patting myself on the back for painting a convincing hand or capturing a difficult likeness. An actual solo art show was far from my radar since returning to painting after a 12 year baby-producing hiatus. Solo shows were what real grown-up artists did. Not me. Not yet at least. At 47 I was still very young at this.

But, I did have a response to the “You should have a show” comment. I told Cindy about my discussions with the small art center that wouldn’t show nudes.  Then, for some reason, I decided to go out on a limb and tell her about my Chicks with Balls idea…just to see what it sounded like when I said it aloud.  At this point I had only told my husband, who chuckles at my schemes and plans, and assumes I’ll do what I want no matter how he advises me.
a detail…I love painting hands
As one of my more conservative friends, Cindy was kind of a litmus test. She, along with many others in my suburban life had always thought it odd that I painted and drew naked people for my art. She was the last one I would expect to take off her top and hold volleyballs in front of her breasts. I honestly thought her response would be, “Yikes, Good Luck with that Judy!”.

Instead though, she laughed and thought it was a great idea! She actually joked about embarrassing her kids and posing with her belly dancing skirt and volleyballs for coverage. Funny what a day of modeling and breathing turpentine fumes will do for you judgment.

In any case, I was quite surprised but also very excited and encouraged. Maybe this idea could actually fly…maybe I wouldn’t be deported from the suburbs as a housewife pornographer. Maybe people might just “get this” …maybe women might feel honored to be asked to pose, and maybe some might just say yes.

A note about the painting above… “Blue Balls for Scarlet”. This painting is not part of the Chicks with Balls series. As of today, Cindy has still not yet decided to actually pose…though she loves the idea. And she knows she has an open invitation. Blue Balls for Scarlet is the painting she posed for in her belly dancing costume. I added the nude woman on the floor for a compositional challenge. The hands with blue balls were offers to Cindy to pose for Chicks. I also knew I needed practice at painting hands holding balls.
another detail from Blue Balls for Scarlet
Why did I call Cindy Scarlet? Cindy has told me on several occasions she would make a good Scarlet O’Hara. Though, when she poses for Chicks with Balls I will need to use her real name, and reference the fact she is a mom of triplets. I think I might call that painting “Cindy: Three Times a Lady”