Paint Schoodic

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Take off your clothes for fun and profit

A post-manifesto painting, and it ended up being my favorite of Michelle ever.

“There are pictures of nude women everywhere, and nobody seems to care,” my son-in-law once said of my home. He’s right. I’m passionate about the subject of subjugation, so there  are paintings of women leaning on every available space: women commodified, bent, begging, enslaved, wrapped in plastic, suspended, dancing, resting, exhausted… and then a few recent post-manifesto ones where I stopped thinking and caught something delicate, introspective and sweet.

For the vast majority of these paintings, my model has been Michelle Long. I want something more from my model than simple presence. “If the situation calls for it, I register some emotion, but by default I am being myself. I try to be neutral but not by wiping myself as a totally clean slate,” Michelle told me.

Why would anyone—especially a very smart and capable young woman—decide on a career of stripping off her clothing and sitting utterly still in front of others? While I was starting to work out my feminist manifesto, Michelle was (unbeknownst to me) on a parallel track. “When I was in my mid-twenties, I was thinking about how society has become so sexualized. My naked body had to be about sex. I wanted to take control of this by physically doing something about it. My life isn’t defined solely by my sexuality. It isn’t the whole of who I am.” But that, she says, is not relevant anymore; she’s worked it out.

Some days it's a ukulele, some days it's dancing. That's why it's called "a break."

Given a choice, Michelle prefers working one-on-one with professional artists, or in small groups. For her the most stressful situation is “when artists don’t treat me professionally, or don’t take themselves professionally.” She likes to be able to collaborate with artists, rather than present a tabula rasa on which artists record their own impressions.


The model's eye view.

That is probably a reflection of her keen and restless mind. She’s been a serious and dedicated swing dancer for 15 years and sings with Gregory Kunde Chorale. She manages two bands: Gorden Webster in New York and Roc City Stompers in Rochester. 

In her spare time, she loves listening to live music and playing Eurogames, whatever the heck they are. “They’re very social and there are multiple ways to win,” chimed in her partner, Tyler Gagnon. She’s learning to play the ukulele, and added, “I love drinking gin.”

Want to join us for figure painting? Contact me here. And I'd be hard-pressed to figure out how to include a figure model in this summer's Maine workshops, but if you're interested in joining us for a fantastic time in mid-Coast Maine, check here for more information.


2 comments:

SqUaNg said...

I find the subject of femininity to be something very different in NYC, especially after going to art school. The life style of art school is known to be very different from any other kinds of institutions. But the "real" world outside of art school is a social beast that is sectioned off. The "real" world so to speak tells you to stand your ground- and anything off about you either has to be removed or hidden. It's not about tidying up loose ends- but it is about ending. What holds a group could be culture- but it's not necessarily so. I was at a park event at church this weekend. Behavior and culture is a curious beast.

SqUaNg said...

That was just an observation- nothing more.