Wednesday, December 29, 2010

good work day

I'm really enjoying having so much time to focus on creating art and finding places to show it.  I wake up in the morning ready and raring to go (quite a change for me, as people who know me will attest to!), full of things I want to do all day.  I feel completely focused almost all the time whether I'm painting, blogging, writing emails, advertising my classes, setting up exhibitions, writing my book, or whatever else has arisen to do.  Each day is new and different and exciting and full of joy.

Today, for example, I had an 8 AM appointment with Larkin Garbee, the owner of James River Tile.  Larkin saw Sacred Flesh and immediately started thinking about how she could help others see it too.  She has invited me to hang it at her company's showroom (a very cool place with amazing tiles all over the walls - check it out!) and is planning a black tie dinner for Valentine's Day, to be entitled Love Your Body, to showcase it.  We met today so I could see her space and to discuss more details of the dinner.  It's amazing to collaborate with others about things - so many great ideas get generated, ones I never could have come up with on my own!

After meeting with Larkin, I went and took down an exhibit I'd had at the Central Virginia Legal Aid building.  They had asked for an artist to show his/her work there to help brighten up their offices, so I put some of my fruits there in June.  I'm glad to have gotten them back home - Larkin would like me to show those at her place too.

At 10, I went to Johnston Willis Hospital to meet with a woman about having my students have an art show in their cafeteria.  They have a beautiful space which was carefully designed for art displays and are looking for folks to show there.  One of my students works there and told me about the opportunity.  I've arranged for them to show in April.  I think it'll be very exciting - it'll be a juried show with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place ribbons.  For many of the students, it will be their first opportunity to show their work in public!  We're planning to have a small reception in their honor as well.

After meeting at the hospital, I came back home and did some office work - emails, etc., then finally got into the studio at 1:30.  I spent the afternoon painting the small 6"x6" canvases to go around Don't Mess with Me.  I have finished 15 of them, I think - 5 more to go!  It's quite a process!  Today I painted some garlic, a seashell, a wooden puzzle, and finished an apple and some broccoli from yesterday.  Unfortunately I can't show you how they look yet because my camera is at the shop for repairs.  Hopefully I'll hear tomorrow what's up with it and how much it'll cost to fix.

This evening I've spent more time painting the small canvases, printing up tags for a show, sending my resume and artist statement and list of pieces out to the curator for a show.  In a few minutes I have to go organize the pieces for that show so I can take them to be hung tomorrow.  It's a lot of work keeping track of all this, but it's so much fun!

While I'm working out in the studio, Chris has been in the wood shop the last few weeks working on a very elaborate frame for Don't Mess with Me.  It has one 18" opening plus 20 6" openings surrounding the central one.  He thought he was almost finished, but when he went to put it together, he found things didn't fit right.  He said  he's learned a lot from his first attempt and will be able to do it more quickly this time around.  I would be so frustrated I would screech with fury, but he is so patient and persistent, he seems OK with starting all over from scratch.  Good thing it's him and not me!  I feel incredibly blessed to have his support and help in my art.  I couldn't do it all without him.  He is an amazing man and a real blessing.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Madelyn Miller's blog post

I was very excited today to find out that Madelyn Miller, the indomitable Travel Lady, mentioned my class, Naked Self Portraiture, in her blog!  The last time she mentioned my artwork was when I did the show 12 Naked Men.  Her blog about that got over 100,000 hits/day!  I'll be curious to see if this one does as well.  If you'd like to see the 12 Naked Men, you can look on my website, to see the ones still available for purchase.

Here's the link if you're curious what she had to say.  It's Monday's post, so you have to scroll down just a little bit.

If you're interested in learning more about the class, here's more information.  I think it's going to be a wonderful class.  We'll take it slow as we explore the idea of being nude in front of others, not to mention ourselves.  The first couple of sessions we'll draw and sculpt body parts we can see with our clothes on.  Gradually, as we build comfort and safety with our fellow classmates, we'll consider other parts.  We'll be using very simple art supplies like Playdoh and finger paint because I want the class to be accessible to artists and non-artists alike.  It is intended to be a playful, joyful exploration of our own incredible beauty.

To sign up, send me an email at, and I'll put you on the list.  We can only take 15 students, so be sure to sign up quickly if you're interested.  We're expecting the class to fill quickly.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

My Review of David Sorg Signature Studio Easel

Originally submitted at Jerry's Artarama Art Supplies

As the saying goes Necessity is the mother of invention. David Sorg had searched for an easel that would not only make painting more enjoyable but also almost disappear; being a true extension of the painting rather than a support for it. After looking at all the other easels David created this inc...

I like it, with reservations

By Susan from Richmond, VA on 12/26/2010


3out of 5

Pros: Sturdy Tripod

Best Uses: Larger Rooms

Describe Yourself: Quality Oriented

Primary use: Business

I am an artist who paints large scale oils (up to 8'x6') and needed an easel big enough to hold the biggest pieces. This easel appears to be able to do that well. The interesting thing I've found about it is that it doesn't go down low enough to be able to paint the top of a 4' piece while sitting. The tray of my other easel goes down almost to the floor, so it isn't an issue with that one.

The easel seems well-designed. We had some trouble putting it together though - this might not make any sense now, but if you buy it and are trying to put it together, there's a stage when you stand it up to vertical - make sure the mast isn't in the way when you do that, or you might break it in two! Thankfully we figured out what was keeping it from rising up before that happened! It would have been helpful if the instructions had included that tidbit of advice.

The construction is a bit flimsier than I expected it to be - the melamine tray came with a corner missing, and the "drawer pull" for the handy brush holder pulled off the first time I used it. I was able to glue it back on, but I hope it doesn't indicate other issues I may have to deal with. Also, the metal solvent holders are nice, but the screens to wipe the brush against are only 3/4" from the bottom, so you can't put much solvent into them without causing damage to the brush when cleaning it.

It is nice to be able to lift the canvas fairly easily. I don't know if it'll get easier as I use it more or not, but it does take some muscle to lift and lower the canvas. It doesn't work with a fingertip!

I like the sandpaper on the canvas holders. It works well to hold the canvas out from the easel so I can paint the edges. Again, though, the sandpaper came somewhat damaged. I'm guessing that when David built these himself, these details were well-attended to. Having them made in China certainly reduces the price (and made it so I could buy one), but there is a loss in quality.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Press release for Celebrate Gay Marriage

F O U N D R Y   G A L L E R Y
1314 18th Street NW, 1st Floor, Washington, DC 20036

January 2011 Calendar

Celebrate Gay Marriage

Exhibit Dates:  January 5 – January 30, 2011
Reception:  Friday, January 7, 6-8 pm
Special Lecture:  Saturday Jan 15, 4:00pm by Dr.Jonathan Katz co-curator “Hide/Seek”

Hours:  Wednesday-Friday 1-7pm & Saturday-Sunday 12-6pm
The Foundry Gallery, one of the oldest DC coop galleries, recognizes and celebrates DC’s historic passage of the same-sex marriage bill, which makes DC a more open and inclusive city for all residents. This is both an important and exciting event, and as part of the DC Arts Community, The Foundry Gallery is celebrating by dedicating its January, 2011, Show to a “CELEBRATION OF GAY MARRIAGE” displaying the art work of artists selected from an “Open Call for Entries”.

Jonathan Katz, associate Professor at the University at Buffalo, and director of its Doctoral Program in Visual Studies, as well as Guest Curator at of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit entitled “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” will present a lecture at the Foundry Gallery on Sat. Jan 15, 2011 beginning at 4:00. Attendance is free.

Questions or comments: or call 202-463-0203

The Lovers by Michael Janis; glass plaque

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Rob VanderZee told me I was going to have to be willing to sacrifice myself for my artwork about Women's Body Image.  That made me uncomfortable.  I didn't know what he meant.

Today I started to get a feel for what he meant.

Yesterday I met with a publisher who is working with me to develop ideas for my book.  It was an exhilarating meeting.  She has great ideas, is a great listener, and isn't pushy in the least.  I feel like God sent me an angel to help me put the pieces together so that the book can come into being.  It was truly amazing.

Today was the first uninterrupted day I've had in the studio since I stopped tutoring.  (And I have to go to Chris's office party at 5:30, so it isn't quite a full day, but I've sure made the most of it.)  It has been fantastic to have time to explore and do things I've been wanting to do for ages.

As soon as I woke up, I couldn't wait to get up, but I decided to do Morning Pages first so I could blow the cobwebs out of my sleepy brain to help me for the rest of the day.  Then I did 30 minutes of yoga so I could get the creaks out of my body and so I could have more focus in the studio.

After a shower, I took my camera to the post office to send it to Canon for repairs - I was in the middle of a photo shoot a couple of days ago and it completely stopped working.  One of the pins that goes into the memory card broke and I have no way of fixing it myself, so Canon will have to help me out.  $180 - ouch.  But at least I'll have my camera back.  A friend lent me her Nikon because I had another model coming yesterday, so I'm not out of commission, thankfully.

On the way to the post office, I was going down Pinetta here in BonAir.  I saw a police car so I slowed down, as is my wont.  I was going 36 so figured I was probably fine.  I was quite surprised to see the car pull out behind me with lights flashing.  I pulled into the Post Office parking lot with the squad car behind me.  A policewoman got out of the car.  I rolled down the window and asked with concern if I'd done anything wrong.  I couldn't imagine.  She asked if I know the speed limit on Pinetta.  I thought about it and realized I didn't - I figured it was probably 35.  She said it was 25!  Yikes.  I said, "Then I did do something wrong.  Geez."  She asked for my license and registration.  I gave her my license then started scouring the car for my registration.  I had no clue where it would be.  I haven't needed it since we bought the car 18 months ago.  She went back and ran a check on my license while I looked for the registration.  I couldn't find it.  She said, "Well, you have a good driving record so I'm going to give you a Christmas present and only give you a warning.  But make sure you go home and find your registration and put it with your insurance information in an envelope and put both in the car.  If you have an accident you'll need them both."  I was SO relieved.  Here I was going to the PO to send my camera to get fixed, an unexpected expense - if I'd had to add a speeding ticket - 19 miles a hour over the speed limit - I would have been really upset.  Horrible.  I am very thankful for her kindness.  It was truly a lovely gift.

After driving home VERY SLOWLY (and waving at the officer as I drove by her), I came out to the studio as quickly as I could and started painting.  I worked on the new picture of Valley, refining the painting I'd done on her hands and breasts.  They look wonderful. 

After lunch I decided it would be a good idea to do some writing.  I'd told the publisher I needed some time to actually get words down on paper before I met with her again - a book doesn't happen just through talking, I don't think!  I wrote for about an hour about my relationship to my body and various things that have happened over the years to help me come to do this work I'm doing now.  It felt good to get it down on paper, though it did bring up some anger and discomfort.  Oh well, that's part of the work.  As the publisher told me yesterday, writing is a process of discovery.  I've already done a lot of this work, but there is always more to do!

After writing for a while, I decided to do something I'd been wanting to do for quite a while.  The phrase from Rob VanderZee is applicable here.  My interpretation of "sacrificing myself" is to photograph myself and relentless draw what I see.  I started with my belly since that's the part of my body I feel least comfortable with.  I photographed it from all sides in heavy shadow.  This is a pencil drawing I did from one photo.  I plan to do more over the course of the month. 

I also photographed my breasts and drew one of those.  It looks a bit imbalanced in this drawing.  I probably need to go back into it tomorrow.  I'm not going to show it here because it simply isn't well done enough, but eventually I'll get it and will post it.

In addition to my breasts and belly, I thought it might be powerful to photograph my face.  Since I'm the one writing this blog, I get to choose which picture I show (!), so I'm showing one of the ones I find attractive.  I took plenty where I was finding tears and laughter and various feelings.  It was powerful looking through them and seeing myself so clearly.  It's hard to deny what the camera sees, unlike when one looks in the mirror.  I can fool myself in all kinds of ways there.  I think I generally look pretty young, but there's no denying that I have a lot of wrinkles on my face.  I kind of like them and the character they show, but I know I'm not supposed to like them.

I was helped greatly by a 9-year-old student I had when I taught German as a 23-year-old in Austria.  She looked at me and said, "Frau Kuli (her nickname for me), you're going to have the most wonderful wrinkles when you get older because you have such a beautiful smile."  I have chosen to live into that rather than the fear that I'll look old when I get old because I have wrinkles.  I think the lines on my face show the expressions I've had on my face the most - those expressions have carved my skin into the shape it has now.  Had I spent much of my time scowling or frowning or disapproving, my face would look quite different.

I'm thinking about painting a series of self portraits from these photos.  To me, that's what Rob meant - I have to be willing to expose myself completely, to dig deep, deep, deep into my own psyche and offer myself up as someone who has done so in order to enable others to choose to examine their own stuff.  The publisher said the same thing yesterday - that the more truthful I can be in my writing, the more it will resonate with others, and the more they'll be willing to take their own journeys. 

I've done much of the psychological work already - it's recorded in my 4 packing boxes full of journals - but now I have to look back and get some objectivity and write it in a way that others can and want to read.  It's a very personal journey.  A powerful and precious one too.

Monday, December 20, 2010

broken camera could equal a great deal for you!

Man, I am seriously bummed!
I was just photographing a new model.  We were starting to get into the groove when the memory card got full.  That happens.  No biggie.  I went to change it and I got the message that I had to format the card.  Weird, but OK.  I tried to format it.  No go.  I tried a different, third card.  No.  New battery.  No.  Nada.  Nothing.  Zippo.

Crap.  Meanwhile, my very nice model is standing there naked while I fiddle and fumble and try to make this work quickly so we can get going again.  Nothing. 

There was nothing else to do so she got dressed and left - she couldn't have been nicer about it all, but geesh!  I hated it!

After she left, I called Canon to see if they could help me figure out what the problem was.  Apparently one of the pins that is used to read the memory card got bent/broken and will need to be replaced at the cost of $200 or thereabouts.  Not what I wanted to hear!

So here's the deal - my misfortune can be your good fortune!  Go on my website and figure out which painting you'd like to buy and I'll sell it to you for 15% off.  You can pay using Paypal or a check, and I'll deliver it anywhere within 100 miles by Christmas, or I'll mail it tomorrow anywhere else.  I'll keep this offer open until 12/22 at midnight. 

Hopefully this'll be a wonderful way to turn lemons into lemonade.  Now I'd better go and get this thing in the mail so I can get it back quickly - I have models to photograph!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Love at Fifty, a poem by Marcia Woodruff

Today I've been looking through books I've accumulated which might be helpful in writing my book about women's body image and I came across my old friend, When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple.  I just read a poem I'd like to share here because it resonates so well for me.

Love at Fifty
by Marcia Woodruff

We come together shy as virgins
with neither beauty nor innocence
to cover our nakedness, only
these bodies which have served us well
to offer each other.

At twenty we would have dressed each other
in fantasy, draping over the damp flesh,
or turned one another into mirrors
so we could make love to ourselves.

But there is no mistaking us now.
Our eyes are sadder and wiser
as I finger the scar on your shoulder
where the pin went in,
and you touch the silver marks on my belly,
loose from childbearing.

"We are real," you say, and so we are,
standing here in our simple flesh
whereon our complicated histories are written,
our bodies turning into gifts
at the touch of our hands.
I was wondering if my tutoring career would go out with a bang or with a whimper, and I guess it's gone out with a whimper.  I was supposed to tutor 3 students today to help them prepare for exams, then it snowed and school was canceled for the day and 2 of the three students canceled and the one that came learned sweetly then left without an awareness of how momentous it was for me.  I might see one of the others tomorrow or in January if exams are held then, but basically I'm done - or not - sort of.  And now I'm alone in the studio, part way into cleaning up my space so I can start anew.

It's quiet.  Very quiet.  There is snow covering the ground, but dead leaves still extend through the blanket of white.  Birch leaves and holly's green and the gold of the wind chimes break the monotony of the snow and tree trunks.

I sit, alone, maker of my own fate, having decided to leave behind what I've known best for almost 24 years. 



Allow the silence to resonate within.

This is my new life.  Quiet.  Spacious.  Thought-filled.  Inside my own head, expressing outwardly in word and image.  No need to explain derivatives or chemical formulas or metaphors or how to conjugate pintar.  Instead, the opportunity to derive my own formulations and metaphors for life and goodness and painting.  It will be different to be doing more than teaching.  A first for me.

I welcome the newness.  I breathe into this new life and am grateful.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I've decided to start something new.  I'm going to call it the Singer Report.  I've noticed when I'm reading magazines that, even if they are purportedly woman-friendly, they are still relentless in setting up expectations for women.  So now I'm going to read magazines from cover-to-cover, including the ads which are in them, and analyze just how friendly they really are and where they fall short.

I noticed this phenomenon for the first time when I read O! (Oprah's magazine).  I had assumed it would be great about building women's self-esteem, etc., etc., but when I read it, I was astonished to find multiple articles about losing weight, the perfect hair style, etc.  Fascinating, given Oprah's stand for women.

Tonight I went through the November 2010 edition of Working Mother.  I had never read it before so I was curious to see what it was like.  Primarily there were articles about women working outside the home and how they managed to balance work and family life.  There was an interview with a star, Brooke Burke.  There were profiles on many of the Mothers-of-the-year from the top 100 companies.  And there were many many ads, of course.  The trend I noticed in the ads was that they were for toys or for vitamins or for stress-reducing supplements.  There was a large focus on stress.  I saw that in the ads but also in the articles like, for example, the one about the frequency of addiction in women and why women turn to drugs and alcohol (stress and family history). 

Of course almost all of the women in the magazine were beautiful.  On page 22, there is a picture of a woman, ostensibly a mother.  She is tall, beautiful, perfectly coiffed with giraffe legs, wearing 3" spiky heels, with a beautiful smiling baby.  Yeah, right.  I looked like that all the time.  I believe that pictures like that set up an expectation that we CAN and SHOULD look like that and that there's something wrong with us if we don't. 

On page 16 there's the typical women's magazine spread of products they're touting.  The first one says,
"Dull Complexion".  Dust on a bit of Benefit Dandelion Pink Perk-Me-Up Face Powder for lasting radiance ($28, 
From that little bit, I get the message that I'm not supposed to have a dull complexion and that using face powder can solve that dilemma.  When my grandmother was a young woman, face powder was used to dull the complexion so it wouldn't be shiny - women weren't supposed to "glisten".  Has that shifted?  Now we're supposed to radiate?  Shine?  Glow?

Another ad:
Not-So-Fine-Lines: Prevage Eye Anti-aging Moisturizing Treatment eases crow's-feet, dark circles and puffiness ($98,
I know, I know, we're never supposed to show signs of aging.  That is probably one of the worst taboos.  Heaven forbid we should have wrinkles, especially not crow's-feet!  But $98??!!  That's a butt load of money for a little tube of crap that's supposed to lessen wrinkles.  Guess what?  We're all going to age.  We're all going to get wrinkles.  It's inevitable.  Unless we die.

Big Pores: Sonic waves from the 'Pore'-fector Gadget by Bliss purify pores, leaving them less prominent ($185,
I was previously blissfully unaware that big pores were an issue.  How does one know what "big pores" look like?  Is there a special pore measurer to assess the correct size?  And why are they an issue?  Who is going to notice?  How close do you have to get to a person to see her pores anyway?  And aren't women supposed to wear foundation and powder anyway?  Can you see pores through all that?

Dry Skin: A single drop of Diptyque Huiles Precieuses in the bath nourishes on contact, then continues to protect and pamper parched body parts ($78,
I'm guessing that isn't quite true.  One drop?  In an entire bathtub full of water?  One drop of this precious stuff will nourish my skin then continue to protect and pamper it?  How?  Will it close my pores so they're not big anymore?  Will it get rid of my crow's-feet?  It offers help to parched body parts - parched?  At least a $78 bottle will last a long time if I only have to use one drop, but it really is a challenge for me to believe it would have an effect.

Makeup Blunders: Can't apply a sultry cat eye?  Stila's Talking Palette supplies all the tools, including step-by-step directions from a pro. Just press the button ($45,
So now I feel inadequate that I can't apply make up (not that I wear it) and that I need a pro to help me out.  This is a kit with eye liner, eye shadow and an application brush AND a little button you can push to hear someone tell you how to do it right.  This week.  There's a natural obsolesence built in to this though since colors will change soon enough, and the styles of eye shadow will too.

On Working Mother's website, one of the things that popped up is a picture of a young girl.  The text to it reads...
By: Tiffany Forte, Photo: Alloy Photography/Veer

“I have to get all A’s.” “I look terrible in these jeans.” “My drawings suck.” If your grade schooler continually spouts self-deprecating remarks and sets unrealistic goals, she may be plagued by perfectionism. “Children who strive to be perfect tend to feel what they do is never good enough,” says Robyn Silverman, PhD, child development expert and author of ...
I wonder where she gets that idea?  Maybe she's been reading these magazines?

OK - so do you get my drift?  This wasn't even a full single page of a single magazine, and just from reading it, I get the message that I have to worry about aging, wrinkles, crow's-feet, dry skin, damaged hair, a dull complexion, big pores, chapped lips, and makeup blunders.  How can a woman get through the day with so many worries?

Aren't there more important things to focus on though?  Like our kids?  Or our spouses?  Or our careers?  Or our souls?  Or doing good in the world?  Or following our bliss and making a real difference in the world.  I just don't see where wearing eye shadow or high heels or worrying about my wrinkles is going to make the world a better place.  All I see it doing is supporting companies who are doing their best to make me buy their products so they can make another buck.

There are more important things in life.

(If you have examples of things you've read which are ironically anti-woman, I'd love for you to send them to me.  I'll be happy to post as many as I can.  My email is  I look forward to hearing from you!)

Monday, December 13, 2010

As I've mentioned off and on during the last few weeks, I have a lot of stuff brewing these days - classes, workshops, exhibitions, etc.  I thought it might be helpful to have a list of the information in case you're interested in attending any of them (I hope you will!)

Here's the list along with links and info on how to sign up.

Red Tent Meeting, Thursday January 6th, 7:30 – 8:30 PM, At Illumination, 109 W. 15th St. Richmond, VA, 23224.
A fabulous opportunity to gather with women to talk about women's bodies and other issues near and near to us.  I’ll be talking about my work, and showing images, then we’ll all have a chance to share stories about our bodies and how we feel about them.  Follow the link to sign up, or just show up that night!

Beginning Pastels, Tuesdays for 6 weeks beginning January 11, 6:30 – 9:00 PM, Visual Arts Center, Richmond. 
A wonderful opportunity to learn to draw with pastels, a lovely, forgiving, juicy medium, perfect for beginners!  Sign up online or call 353-0094.
Naked Self Portraiture:  Drawing Inward to Draw Outward, Fridays every other week, beginning February 11, 7 – 9:30 PM, Khalima’s Dance Studio (for women only). 
Part exploration of the soul, part exploration of the body, this class will give you time and permission to see yourself as you truly are with loving eyes.  We’ll draw and paint and sculpt with simple materials like Playdoh and finger paint, easy for the inexperienced artist and challenging enough for  the professional artist as well.  We’ll go inward through Authentic Movement and guided meditation to find the essence of who we are outwardly on the inside.  Come prepared to disrobe, to explore, to laugh, and to discover richly, deeply your own gorgeous self, inside and out.
Body Shop: An exploration of the body through image and word.  Friday, February 25, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM, my studio on Southside Richmond.  Co-led by Valley Haggard
What messages do we tell ourselves about our bodies? Are our perceptions accurate? Do the words we use to describe our own bodies - or the bodies of other women - promote our happiness or keep us stuck in judgment and self-recrimination? Through the processes of drawing, writing and sharing, we will explore the impact that our body image has on our inner and outer lives. In this intensive three-and-a-half hour workshop, we will gently but honestly uncover how we really feel about the woman beneath our clothes. 

Intermediate Pastel Drawing, Tuesdays for 6 weeks beginning March 15, 6:30 – 9:00 PM, Visual Arts Center, Richmond. 
Bring your own project to work on in a supportive, instructive atmosphere.  Excellent for those with some experience with pastels already.  Sign up online or call 353-0094.

Celebrate Gay Marriage, Foundry Gallery, Washington, DC, January 5 – 29, 2011, opening reception January 8, 6:00 – 8:00 PM. My piece Susie Kissing Sally will be on display there.
Artists and Writers, Flippo Gallery, Randolph Macon College, Ashland, VA, February 18 – April 1, 2011, Opening Reception, February 20, 3:00 – 5:00 PM.  4 pairs of writers and artists including Valley Haggard and I will be displaying our collaborative efforts at the Flippo Gallery in Ashland.  Valley will have a piece in Belle Magazine in February telling about our combined efforts and how being painted nude has changed her life.
Fruits and Veggies, Bon Air Library, Richmond, VA, March 1 – 30, 2011.  Exhibit of pastel drawings of fruits and vegetables.  No nudity allowed in the publically-funded sphere, so I’ll show my fruits instead!
 Solo Exhibit (as yet unnamed), Petersburg Regional Arts Center, April 6 – May 9, Opening Reception, April 8, 7:00 – 9:00 PM.  A small collection of my female nudes at this lovely art center in the heart of downtown Petersburg.
All Fleshed Out (working title), Crossroads Art Center, September 19 – November 1, 2011, Opening Reception September 23, 6:30 – 9:30.  A gigantic exhibition of my paintings and drawings of Female Nudes, Transgender Nudes, and experiential activities highlighting how we feel about our bodies.

I hope you'll join me for some of these many rich experiences.  I'm excited about all that is happening and look forward to sharing the joy and excitement from each in the months to come!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The progression of Valley coming out of the red chair.

I got to work on the painting of Valley Haggard today, yet another piece for our collaboration at Randolph Macon's Flippo Gallery this February.  I think it's starting to look pretty good.  There's lots left to do, but I got a good start on her face and on the body.  I need to match up the colors in each!

I've pasted in pictures of it at various stages because I think it's fun to see how a painting develops.  At this point I need to refine the color and the form on her body.  I need to darken the shadow behind the chair.  I need to paint her ear and her necklace.  I need to match the colors in her face and body.

I don't think I'll be able to paint today because I have a lot of tutoring students coming.  This week isn't going to be about painting.  It'll be about finishing up my work as a tutor with integrity and joy.  This is my last week of tutoring after 23 years of it.  I feel some sadness about leaving behind what I've known for so long, but mostly I feel exhilaration about where I'm going.

Each and every day I am finding new opportunities to teach about women's body image.  Tomorrow if I have time, I'll post a list of the various classes, workshops and lectures I'll be offering in the new year.  It is growing daily.  Plus I get to paint!  Life is incredibly full of promise right now.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Viennese ballerina is fired for posing nude for the paper - creates an uproar from the public

I thought the US was the only place that was extremely prudish about nudity, but a friend in Austria just sent me an article from the newspaper there which shows that it's still an issue in Austria as well, though the public is in an uproar about what happened there.  Here's the link to the article in German with  my translation: 

Karina Sarkissova dances no more... (updated)

... at least not at the Viennese Opera.  It was there that the Primaballerina was relieved of her duties by the newly appointed Director of Ballet, Manuel Legris.

Critical to his decision, according to Sarkissova, were the artistic/erotic photographs taken by Moritz Schell of the
September-Wiener which appeared on August 16, 2010.

We find that to be quite prudish and unworthy of a cultural institution.

Apparently in May 2010 Sarkissova had been "warned" by the then-Chief of Ballet Gyula Harangozo on account of nude photos of her which appeared in the June edition of the magazine

According to the Director of the Opera Dominique Meyer, the company was "shocked" to see the new photographs which appeared under the heading "Sex."   In response to the question by the WIENER reporter why it was a problem to appear in nude photos in a magazine when nude dances were performed on the stage of the international Opera House, the director responded, "No comment."

Manuel Legris auf dem Cover von BACKSTAGE von Kishin Shinoyama, erschienen bei ASAHI PressOne other aspect makes this prudish behavior seem even more incongruous: the very same Director of Ballet, Manuel Legris, who let Sarkissova go, posed naked as a jay bird for a series of photos (see left) - in which men and women were cavorting wildly with one another.  Apparently men at the Viennese Opera are allowed more frivolity than women are...

At any rate, the Director of the Opera, Meyer will meet with Sarkissova next week to hear her side of the story.

Manuel Legris on the Cover of BACKSTAGE by Kishin Shinoyama, published by ASAHI Press

[This story is still evolving]

UPDATE, 14.38h:
WIENER- Reporter Barbara Ginzinger recently spoke with Karina Sarkissova by telephone. The Ballerina said that she had NOT been warned after the first photos, neither in writing nor orally.   

There had, in fact, been consternation in the Opera and people expressed differing opinions about the photos, but she had not been warned.  She hadn't given any thought to it since the new Director of Ballet, Manuel Legris had appeared nude in a series of pictures.  "I am not the first and also not the last ballerina to take her clothes off."   Additionally Ms. Sarkissova and the ballet ensemble were asked, at the end of the last season, if they would be willing to dance nude, or topless, at the Opera.  That is planned for January for the piece "Bella Figura".

About Sarkissova:  born in Russia (1983), Sarkissova was trained at the Bolschoi Ballet and in St. Poelten.  Since 2000 she has been a member of the State Opera Ballet, since 2009 as a soloist. She is married and has an 8-year-old son.

Readers' Comments:
  • 8. Oktober 2010 by Frank Bussmann
  • And such a backwoods idiot is the highly paid Director of the Viennese Opera!  Unbelieveable!  Which century is he living in?  FELIX AUSTRIA…
  • 8. Oktober 2010 by Wolfgang Johannes v. Busse
  • Mr. Legris should take another look at his own naked pictures where he's in contact with other naked men and women - there aren't even any little scarves to hide a thing in those.
    Titel:Manuel Legris ,A L Opera de Paris, von Kishin Shinoyama, Asahi Press, Dainippon Printing. Unfortunately it's very hard to get a copy of it.
  • 8. Oktober 2010 by Harald Harald
  • ... as though ballerina don't already dance around half-naked (and occasionally completely naked already - and are displayed as erotic objects for the curious anyway. ..

  • 8. Oktober 2010 by Natascha
  • as if show business today were about morals anyway...  She's smart to find another way to earn some money - after all, her body won't last forever...
    natascha- choreographer
  • 8. Oktober 2010 von Hannes Reitinger
  • How can someone be "shocked" by these beautiful pictures?  What kind of times do we live in if looking at a picture of an undressed person can give a person a shock?  This double-morality is "shocking", and if anyone should be fired, it should be Mr. Legris.

  • 8. Oktober 2010 von Doris Leppitsch: If men go around showing their chests (as often happens in the ballet!!!!!), no director gets upset about that.  Where is the equality here?
    By the way, the photo is gorgeous.

  • 8. Oktober 2010 von Doris Leppitsch
  • We've discussed it in the meantime.  The only logical explanation in our eyes is that this gorgeous woman turned down some powerful man's attention.

  • 8. Oktober 2010 von Gabijan: I dont understand the issue here. À beautiful woman poses in nude. Not porno or anything. Not even sex. Just beautiful. If anything THE pictures complement the super boring and outdated image of a national ballet. She will draw many curious people to the theater who may never even have thought of going to a ballet in the first place. I will definitely boycott the Wien ballet if this lady had to go. Celebrate healthy people don’t fire them!
  • 8. Oktober 2010 von fritz:  someone is mighty jealous.  what a turned around world - if the "artists" are shocked by something like that and the people who aren't artists love the beautiful pictures.
  • 9. Oktober 2010 von Bob: Is there a beaver shot?
  • 9. Oktober 2010 von Nicole Kolisch: nope!
  • 9. Oktober 2010 von Eric: What’s all the fuss about?
    The body is beautiful, a work of art created by the grand master in the sky.
    Enough of the prudishness!
    Don’t pontificate – celebrate!
  • 9. Oktober 2010 von KC: She looks beautiful.
  • 9. Oktober 2010 von KC: BTW, have to laugh at calling a magazine “wiener”. LOL!
  • 10. Oktober 2010 von wolfgang schnabl: no worries.  Just close down the opera, make a parking place out of it.  Art hasn't been anything but a gift job for idiot directors for years.
  • 10. Oktober 2010 von alfred hulka: I think she should complain by the equality commission.
  • 11. Oktober 2010 von rainer: Jesus!  Welcome to 2010.  This hypocritical double moral is reaching American proportions.  First class aesthetic photographs which will certainly not harm the "reputation of the opera".  If I think about what is displayed up on the stage - and mostly without even warning the public - Please!
    So, please, dear responsible ones, pull the stick out of your a... and let this dancer do her job.
  • 14. Oktober 2010 von Satanskatze: oh good grief, how prudish they are all of a sudden!  what about the ballets where the groups of dancers run around the stage naked? 


Monday, December 6, 2010

The Signs, they are a comin'! Thank you, God!

This morning I woke up full of anxiety and other feelings about several things, but one that popped to the top pretty quickly was my decision to stop tutoring and to devote myself to art full time.  It's such a HUGE decision! 

This is my last week at Trinity.  This morning I got a lump in my throat several times while I was tutoring my students, especially one whom I have been seeing for 3 1/2 years.  I will miss her a lot.  I've built up such a personal relationship with many of these kids.  It'll be hard to let that go.  Hopefully they'll choose to stay in touch, but it's actually the rare student who does so.  I can count them on my thumb actually.  After 23 years of tutoring.

While doing my Morning Pages (see Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way if you don't know what they are) at 5:30 this morning, I allowed my feelings to pour out then eventually allowed some rationality to break in and told God I'm letting go and asked him to take over.  I do believe that when I surrender to the forces that be, my life is 100% better.  I tend to think I'm in charge and can do very well, but again and again I find that I do better if I let go and let God. 

I am feeling so driven to do this work, I no longer have a choice about it.  It was difficult staying focused on Calculus this morning.  It feels like my brain is a dam, holding in information like derivatives, balancing chemical equations, quadratic formulas, metaphors, the Constitution, the difference between ser and estar.  But it is full to overflowing and can't wait to open its gates and let all that extraneous knowledge go! Pfft!  Occasionally I'll worry that I might let in Alzheimers if I don't keep using my brain as actively as I have been these last 20+ years - "use it or lose it" - but I am SO ready to let it go (not my brain - the plethora of high school subject matter, I mean)!  I want to fill my brain with other things, fill my eyes with other images, fill my heart with other thoughts.  It's been wonderful tutoring.  I will grieve the loss of my students and my colleagues, but I am ready to move on.

I had lots of affirmations today that I'm doing the right thing.  My colleagues were uniformly kind and supportive and encouraging.  Then I met with Valley Haggard for lunch.  I was feeling raw as could be, but tried not to show it - who wants to dump the second they see someone?!  But she almost immediately read my mind and said, without any prompting, "You are doing the right thing.  It's perfect.  It's going to turn out great!  It's exactly what you're supposed to be doing."  Of course tears came to my eyes as I thought of the students I'm leaving and as I felt my fear rise to the surface.  But when I focus on my gut, I know I'm doing the right thing.  There just isn't any question there.

Valley and I were meeting to  plan a workshop we'll be offering in February called Body Shop: Exploring our real feelings about our real bodies through drawing and writing.   I love working with Valley!  She and I seem to work well together and came up with a dynamite workshop with joy and enthusiasm.  I'm looking forward to teaching this workshop with her.  If you are interested in taking it, email me at, and I'll send you more details once we get the flyer made up.  I'll also be posting the flyer here once it's ready.

Valley also agreed to meet with me to help me brainstorm about the book I'm going to write.  I know it's there, ready and waiting, but I don't have a format for it yet.  So much is swirling in my head about it - I need to figure out how to get it down on paper.  She is going to help me figure that out.  I'm a lucky woman.  We'll meet another time to do the same for her and the book that is swirling inside her head.  I feel so blessed to have met her and to be collaborating with her in so many ways!

When I got back to school and checked my email, there was an email from a woman who's the publisher of a small press who might be interested in my book.  She saw my catalog and liked what she saw so is wanting to meet with me to talk about it.  We set up that appointment for Friday.  God is working overtime giving me signs that this is the right thing for me to be doing!  

When I got back from school, there was an enticing pink gift bag hanging on the doorknob.  My dear friend Lynda had brought me a birthday present, a book entitled: True Work: The Sacred Dimension of Earning a LivingSounds perfect to me!  I can't wait to dive into it!

As if all that weren't enough, I just took a break for a moment from writing this and got an email from Foundry Gallery in DC saying that my piece Sally kissing Susie got accepted into their show Celebrate Gay Marriage.  Yippee!  The show will be in DC in January.  Details to follow.

It's been a great art day!