Revealing the Muse: Do You Know This Woman?

I hadn’t planned to do a series of nudes.

Don’t get me wrong – I like them. There were lots of them during my school days.  I miss having the opportunity of drawing from life.

But when I left school I discovered that there are more than a few people in my circle of friends and aquaintances who are slightly unnerved by the unclothed. And since I like to hang my work in my home where I can see it and think about it I guess I have unconsciously avoided them.

My three year old would be fine with them. She likes to wear as little as possible as often as she can manage it. She looks in the mirror and exclaims “I look beautiful!” Not a bad way to be. I wish I had such an uncritical eye!

So back to the muses.

This is something I’ve thought about and written about before. But since the last time I attempted to work with muses I’ve realized that a muse is only a muse if she has some meaning to you – some connection. She must be an inspiration. She has to have that something that is worth a second look; something that is worth following her into the woods for. But – and this is the key I think – she can’t give it all away at first glance. She has to have layers and a history. She needs to make you feel smart as you decode her secrets.

Who is your personal muse?

 There are women who routinely appear in my work, in various disguises – and as I was painting a pair of them I realized they were two of my muses. My muses tend to stand just our of reach. Right where I like them, inviting me and the viewers to follow them down the rabbit hole. Teasing us all with scraps of their character and stories.

And I began to wonder what it would be like to be in a room full of these women.

As I explored the idea further, I went back and looked at some of my favourite, and some of the most famous paintings of all time; Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, Venus of Urbino, Venus de Milo (I know she’s a statue but still..) Mucha’s Dance  and Picassos Demoiselles d’Avignon.

There were some really intersting similarities.

Most of them were nude, for example.

In most of them I had seen the pose used before in another artwork.

The women have a mythic, timeless quality that attracts me. They have something to say.

So then I began playing with the idea of working with other artists’ muses in my own style. Not a replication of a great work but work inspired by it.

I’ve never attempted to be part of the artistic tradition in quite this way before. I feel like it is ballsy and exciting and I keep wondering how I will make these paintings my own.

Do you attempt to capture your muse? Is it plagiarism to borrow another artist’s inspiration?

Ps. These are just the first few in this series – I hope to unveil the whole thing at a solo show – date to be revealed in the near furure!


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