Friday, June 1, 2012

Traditional artists

There's something very refreshing, and kind of romantic, about working for traditional artists. It's tough on the body, but generally free of the drama and ambivalence that often accessorizes my correspondence with photographers. The sessions themselves, while often more formal and alienating, allow me to assume a meditative state I don't often find anywhere else. I've incubated and birthed some of my best creative ideas while sitting still for twenty minutes, and I know I'm not the only one.

This last winter I was only modeling for one person--a woman named Pat who lives on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, in a beautiful, secluded house in the mountains, completely hidden from the road by trees and requiring very specific directions to find. The house was full of spinning wheels and looms, gorgeous paintings and intricate drawings, almost entirely the work of Pat herself. She had a chocolate lab and a green parrot, both of whom were hopelessly infatuated with me.

She held weekly drawing groups attended by women from the ages of sixty to ninety, and I was lucky enough to be their one and only model. The group was informal and extremely appreciative--the poses were short, the breaks were long, I'd drink lots of hot cocoa and tea, no one minded the goggle tan I'd acquired from being a ski instructor, and I was paid far more than I'd asked for. The women themselves were fascinating inspirations to me, as well--extremely active and continually being excited by new prospects in their lives.

Given that there was almost no snow in Tahoe that year [and being an uncertified ski instructor isn't exactly a lucrative job even at the best of times], they single-handedly paid my rent and kept me fed.

I wish I had some scans of their work to show, but I don't.

So instead, here's eye candy from one of my other favorites, a Bay Area artist named Cuong Nguyen, one of the most unabashedly cheerful and generous people I know, who quit his secure office job to pursue art full-time and recently had his first gallery exhibit featuring ten-or-so paintings and drawings of me. Go look:

Little known fact: the necklace in this photo was a satirical parting gift from an ex-boyfriend.
In person, this painting is about six squillion fucking feet tall. It's big. It's weird being intimidated by your own face.

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