All posts by Uriél Danā

How Do You Start Your Own Art Collection?

Imagine you have just died. You were really really old. In fact, you have out lived your family and your friends.

A stranger comes into your home to catalogue your possessions.They are an estate manager and they must clear your household to honor your will or to pay off any bills you may have left. They come inside your home or apartment and there is one painting, a chair, and a bed. The painting is in a place of honor, well lit. They stop and stare at the painting. It is your legacy.

That painting should tell the person as much about you as the music you have on a shelf or the books that you own. A painting should reveal to people if you were funny, romantic, spiritual, mystical, patriotic, sensuous, and even what colors you liked.

Choose a painting, drawing or a sculpture like it is the only thing you will look at every day for the rest of your life.

Fall “in love” with it. When you are in love you cherish what you love, enjoy the time you spend together, are proud to be seen with your love. If you buy for love, not investment, you will never regret it.

Later you may find it was just puppy love and fall for a more mature lover; that will be the second piece in your collection.


To follow Uriél Dana’s Twitter feed on contemporary figurative art you can find her at Twitter.com/Uridev

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Craquelure: History’s Crack In Time

Time and climate are not our friends when it comes to paintings or our skin. Craquelure is the network of fine cracks that appear in the skin of a painting. Many things can cause these cracks.

Sadly, much like the human face, cracks occurring in the paint layers or ground are usually indicative of age or stress. Instead of the scull, these cracks run through the layers of a painting. They take the form of a dense network of fine fissures which run in straight or slightly curved lines. Think laugh lines.

Sometimes they happen because of the oxidation process, others can occur within the dried and fully polymerized (non elastic) layers of paint.

In modern paintings, it’s usually the consequence of using poor materials.

Crazing is when the cracks appear in varnish but have not yet penetrated through the layers of paint. This usually happens when improperly prepared varnish mixtures have lost their bond. These types of cracks can usually be removed by removing the varnish.

Drying cracks are not the same as aging cracks.

Drying cracks include flame cracks that are small and short, often from paint dotted with a brush after painting.

Brushstroke cracks occur in areas covered with really thin paint. Lean chalk grounds cause spiral cracks and paints on thin canvas.

Grid cracks are found only in 19th and 20th century paintings and are caused by painting on smoother grounds.

Net cracks, named after their appearance, happen when the paint has been manipulated and applied in many directions on a structured canvas.

Drying cracks in varnish are pale and extend down through the paint as far as the ground, but not into the ground. They are always the result of painting technique.

Peace on Earth by Gage Taylor and Uriel Dana Craquelure
Peace On Earth (after Canigliano), 1995, by Uriél Dana & Gage Taylor. © 1995-2018 Uriél Dana

Craquelure can also be caused by mechanical stresses. Forgers, after using ovens to dry and harden oil paint can roll a painting over a cylinder.

Picture distortions create cracks when something has pressed the canvas from the back or even a forger using their fingers.

Aging of the picture layer, micro pores and micro-fissures (aka blanching), and stresses caused by tension and pressure can also cause cracking.

Cracks on wood panel paintings create garland cracks, diagonal cracks, spiral and corn ear cracks caused by pressure.

To make things even more complicated there are also artificial craquelure done for effect. I used a product called Vernis a Craqueler by a French company for an exhibit I did with the late Gage Taylor called “Alien X-mas” at Anon Salon in San Francisco. It is a two step process using oil and water based varnishes to get the effect. The painting was called “Peace on Earth”.


Art Credit: Mona Lisa by Leonard DaVinci, detail of craquelure

Art Critics: ​Keeping Art In Its Proper Framework

Art critics evaluate art in a historical context. They see the big, overall picture of what is going on in a culture during the specific time it is created. The most successful art is a reflection of the zeitgeist of its creator. It is the art critic that is able to spot a movement.

An example would be what came to be known as California Visionary Art. This is an area of surrealism that came after Pop Art and after the Psychedelic Album Cover Art Movement of the 1960’s. It included Gage TaylorBill MartinNick HydeCliff McReynoldsJoseph ParkerThomas Akawie, and Sheila Rose.

Art critic and curator, Walter Hopps, noticed a new kind of style popping up in art competitions. It had a spiritual, fantasy element to it but it was not illustration or sentimental. It reflected the human potential movement and spiritual awakening happening in California in the 1970’s. It’s important to remember these were artists painting spiritual or drug-induced awakenings before special effects, computers, or CGI. They were seeing the world in a new way and sought to share that vision.

True art movements appear simultaneously by artists tapping into something energetically. They are usually unaware of one another. Based on Walter Hopps observation as a critic, California Visionary Art was curated into exhibits at the SmithsonianThe Whitney Museum in NY, The San Francisco Museum of Modern ArtThe Paris Biennale, The India Triennale among many others. It appeared in books and Gage Taylor’s work was highlighted in magazines such as Newsweek (July 11, 1977) & Omni (September 7, 1979 page 38).

When an artist gets a bad review for his work it is usually because he is not being authentic to his time or himself.

Many artists were influenced by California Visionary Art and the first two or three generations were part of the spiritual awakening happening at the time; the ashrams, the gurus, the meditation groups, the groups focusing on peace towards people and animals (vegetarianism), the awakening of Buddhism in the West.

By the 4th generation, we see people painting unicorns and rainbows with garish colors with sickly sweet sentimentality. These artists adapted the “persona” of a movement but were not “authentic” to the movement. This work is not collectible and critics see it for what it is, derivative.

Art critics have years of art history education under their belt and even experience viewing, curating, or judging artwork for exhibitions. They can spot an artist copying another artist in an instant.

Gage Taylor, California Visionary Artist


Art Credit: Collage (Detail) by Robin Isely

Museums In The 21st Century: The Invisible Intimacy Of Public Palaces

Museums have always been magical places to me. Every room allows us to enter a bardo or in-between world that bridges the artist and ourselves. The emotions held by the artist while creating, remain in the artwork forever.

To stand in front of a painting in which the artist has mastered the “flow” allows the viewer to feel in telepathic communion with that artist. (There is no word for this in English. In Sanskrit, it is known as the “rasa”).

At the beginning of this millennium the Director of the Whitney Museum of American ArtDavid Ross, announced that he did not believe institutions should exist only to preserve art. He said museums should sometimes feel like a comfortable chair or being in a fistfight, or perhaps being mugged somewhere.  I’ve experienced all three of those things looking at art.

To me, museums are portals between worlds. I could fill notebooks on my own travels between the walls of these jump-gates.

Maggie Fergusson edited a book in 2016 called Treasure Palaces: Great Writers Visit Great Museums. Twenty-four fellow magic seekers shared their own experiences of being swallowed up in museum pocket universes.

Aminatta Forna contributed her haunting trip through The Museum of Broken Relationships. Not the one on Hollywood Boulevard or in Covent Garden London, but the original museum in Zagreb, Croatia. Every object on display was a relic of a death, a divorce, or a mystery disappearance during a war. In this museum, the theme is clear: all love ends in a loss.

The museum is divided into a series of rooms, each with a fanciful name such as the Allure of Distance, or Whims of Desire. She wrote, “From Rage and Fury you can turn right and pass through Tides of Time and into Rites of Passage, which in turn leads to Paradox of Home. If you walk straight through Rage and Fury you will come to Resonance of Griefand the final room, Sealed by History”.

Museums are time capsules of the soul of a place. They capture the beauty of those who were a part of its living history. We are drawn to what is sleeping inside us; peace, answers, eccentricities, time travel.

Every seed within us can flower in the right museum. Are you curious about the size and shape of penises of fellow mammals? The Phallological Museum in Iceland might mark your next vacation destination. There is a hair museum in Independence, Missouri. Its paintings, jewelry, and wreaths are all made from the hair of the dead.

Those who crave a day of laughs can lose themselves in The Museum of Bad Art in Boston. We can snorkel through 470 figurative sculptures entwined with coral at the Cancun Underwater Museum or encourage another kind of wet dreams by visiting The Museum of Sex in NYC.

Museums are often created by people with passions bordering on terror. Those collections are the very best ones to visit!

The Cinema Museum in London, for example, was a creation of an ageless 70-year-old named Ronald Grant who combined an encyclopedic knowledge of film history and over a million film-related images and items going back to the late 1800’s.

The museum’s original location was the former Lambeth workhouse where the 9-year-old Charlie Chaplain and his brother were “processed” in 1896. We learn that prior to X-Rated Movies there was Category H: “Horrific” and that metal tokens had various shapes by price so that ushers could feel the difference in the dark.

Museums require emotional, spiritual, and intellectual participation. Those taking selfies or checking emails cannot experience the art. They are “elsewhere”. It is just as rude to engage with your phone around art, as it would be on a date.

In what is often thought of as “traditional” art museums, I have observed people disconnected from their environment. They are removed from what it is they are seeing.I can spot them in an instant because they spend a little too long reading the museum labels and barely look at the art they identify.

People roam from painting to painting looking for something they can recognize. Often they only attend blockbuster traveling exhibits because they have “heard” of the artist’s name yet do not understand why what they are looking at is significant.

In the ancient world of Egypt and Greece, temples were repositories of the accumulated wealth of an entire society.

In the Middle Ages, churches, hospitals, and monasteries kept treasures to honor God. Sadly, many of those were donated as reparation for perceived sins.

In the 15th century, our relationship to our world changed. We developed new beliefs that we could shape our own destiny. Objects became functional as well as aesthetic.

In a way, the 16th century was our first tech boom. People collected technological instruments, sculptures, drawings, or any other objects that might be the next big thing. Think of the aesthetics of Steampunk or the worlds of Jules Verne Novels.

The 17th Century was the Golden Age of Art Collecting. A mark of prestige with the nobility, it was both a passion and an investment. The Middle Class with their love of paintings and objects from around the world became the Google and the Amazon of the newly wealthy merchant class. Exploration was in. Paintings were your photostream, proof of exotic worlds that you had access to.

Prior to the 17th and 18th century, art was only owned and collected by royalty and the mega-rich. It was a rare honor and a privilege to be allowed to see art in the place it was created to hang.

Later these palaces such as The Louvre in Paris or The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, offered to share their treasures with the public. They recognized they were privileged caretakers of these rarely seen creations.

When you enter a museum you are honoring those who spent a lifetime collecting the best work of the gifted, the skilled, the innovative, and insightful.

Museums are like any sacred place: the person next to you may be experiencing something truly profound in their life. An artist may be analyzing how something was painted. Historical paintings reveal what was lost in textbooks. Before photography, without landscape painters, we would not remember what our country looked like before machines and man changed its shape. Paintings show us our ancestors and the history of fabric and of wealth.

There is etiquette when visiting these public palaces. Never mock the artwork if you are not alone in a gallery. Do not laugh at art unless you are positive it is meant to be funny. Do not touch the art, or photograph it. The oils in your skin and a flash can damage its surface.

If you are taking selfies or photographing the art you are not in the museum for the art, you are there to show off. If you want to make an impression, buy an actual postcard from the museum and mail it to someone as a surprise.

Dress like you are going to lunch at the home of your friend’s very rich parents. Do not dress in a slutty way that will get those parents to disapprove of you. Wear shoes that are quiet and do not damage the floors or the carpets. Do not touch anything and always use your indoor voice.

The walls are alive in a museum but only to those with an attention span longer than a housefly.


Art Credit: Night At The Museum by Canadian Digital Manipulation Artist “Shorra”

Color And Energy: What Our Preferences Reveal To The Trained Third Eye

My Mother was a product of color conditioning. She believed “pink was for girls, blue was for boys”.

 

About the time I was ready for my “big girl bed”, she hired a decorator to outfit a canopy bed, complete with matching dust ruffles, pillows, and drapes, in pink and white checked gingham.

I stood looking at the fabric samples in horror. “I don’t like pink”. They ignored me. “I don’t like pink” I tried to insert once again into their dialogue. Each attempt to communicate was ignored. I was only four years old after all, what did I know?

After a few weeks furniture was delivered. An elated decorator dashed about my room completing all of its finishing touches for its big reveal. I walked into my room and politely told her I did not like pink and please take it away. She ignored me, of course.

An hour later she and my Mother were celebrating their mutual gain over coffee in the kitchen. I was invisible. I went to the drawer next to the stove, and took out a box of matches, and marched right up to my bedroom.

With the first match I torched the drapes above my desk. I then torched the canopy, the shams, and the dust ruffle. Fabric fire codes were barely in existence at the time and everything seemed to burn quite nicely. I was satisfied.

I walked downstairs and placed the matches on the table between the two women. Looking directly into my mother’s eyes I declared, “I do not like pink”. You could smell the smoke by then. My mother grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran up the stairs. I have no idea who called the fire department.

The house was fine, but my new bedroom was damaged beyond repair. The decorator looked horrified. Her knee was even with my eye level. I gently touched it to comfort her. She looked down at me. I softly reassured her, “I was thinking, something in a yellow?” I couldn’t work out if she was laughing or crying.

Color and Energy - Dylan John Lisle - Tutt'Art
Dylan John Lisle – Tutt’Art

I promise you I have not torched another property since that time. However, with hindsight, that finely tuned sense of color that made me do such a thing has actually been an asset all of my working life.

Color and Energy - Anne Marie Kornachuck
Anne Marie Kornachuck

People think of color in terms of dyes or pigments but perceiving color is an illusion.

In the book Color, The Secret Influence, Kenneth and Cherie Fehrman document how the world is actually, completely colorless. “Colors are wavelengths and part of the same electromagnetic spectrum of brain waves, body heat, light, television, and radio signals.

Color and Energy - Kamille Corry
Kamille Corry

These signals are measured in meters ranging from several hundred meters to light waves that are so short they must be measured in nanometers (1-millionth of a millimeter).

Humans can only perceive a small amount of this spectrum.400 nanometers looks like indigo to our brains and 700 nanometers looks like a deep red to most of us.”

Seeing the colors around us is an interactive visual process that only exists in the observer’s brain and our interpretation of it. Although our perception of color is influenced moment to moment by light, we respond individually to their electro-magnetic vibrations.

Our bodies respond to these electromagnetic frequencies also. When practitioners of Eastern Medicine talk of chakra’s they are referring to vortices in our body that allow energy to flow in and out of our body.

In 1975 the UCLA Rolf Study was begun to measure electro-physical activity of muscles when receiving deep Rolfing massage. Placing electrodes on the major chakra/acupuncture points they were able to make the color, shape and movement of these fields observable. Simultaneously, the frequencies of the electromagnetic radiation emitted from the subject’s body were recorded on an oscilloscope.

Color and Energy - Nadine Robbins
Nadine Robbins

For the first time, the electro-physiological recordings described for centuries psychics and healers as the 7 colors of the chakra’s were able to be connected to waveforms and bandwidths.

Rosalyn L. Bruyer, a trained engineer, worked 8 years on the UCLA study. She wrote extensively about their results in her book, Wheels of Light: Chakras, Auras, and the Healing Energy of the Body. “The primary colors were found to be red, yellow and blue correlating to the first, third, and fifth chakras. Their respective frequencies were waveforms with bandwidths of 640 to 800 Hertz (cycles per seconds), 400 to 600 Hertz, and 100 to 240 Hertz.

Color and Energy - Ione Hunter Gordon
Ione Hunter Gordon

The patterns and sounds of the colors were also very distinct. Red waveforms demonstrated themselves as irregular groupings of short spikes and sounded like a siren.. Yellow resembled a smooth round sine wave and sounded like a musical tone, and blue had large sharp peaks and troughs with small deflections riding upon them. The color blue had a sound like a rumble.”

What does all of this mean? It means humans and nature are electro magnetic in form and our bodies, minds, and spirits can be negatively effected by man made electro magnetic fields such as wifi, cell phones and cell towers.

People are repelled from colors they have too much of in their aura. They are also drawn to colors they need in their aura.

Color and Energy - Rachel Bess
Rachel Bess

For example, Yellow is a mental color. Research has shown if you study in a yellow room or take notes on a yellow pad you will have better test results.

Yellow is also the color of the third chakra where the body begins to move from the male energy of the first and second chakras into the feminine energy of the body. Not male and female as in sex, but as in the energy fields of the body.

Male energy is to conquer, compete, & to control. The Female energy is nurturing, balanced, doing things for the benefit of the greater good, empathy,compassion.

Each of us has both energies within us and we are at peace in the world and with others when they are in balance.

If your male energy is out of control, all you will care about is sex, making money and getting what you want. If you have lost your empathy for humanity, the earth, and other species, you will be repulsed by yellow.

Male energy manifests itself as an abundance of red and orange in the body.

On the other hand, if you are studying and learning full time, being forced to spend all of your time in the mental realms, you will be repulsed by yellow because your aura is flooded with it. You will probably crave purples for spiritual satisfaction, blue for creativity, or greens to awaken your heart.

Color and Energy - Laura Krifka
Laura Krifka

Every society has its own cultural associations and stigma’s around color. Color conditioning can influence our choices also. With that said, by paying attention to the colors we are drawn to or repulsed by can inform us to what may be going on physically, mentally and emotionally with us.

Color and Energy - Hunter Eddy
Hunter Eddy

Art Credit: Header Image by Stephanie Rew.

The Female Artist Model: Malice In Wonderland

Coming off the Women’s March and in the wake of the #MeToo movement, I would be remiss if I did not address the darker side of how female art models have been viewed and treated in history. As in all things professionally, there seems to be separate standards for men and women.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Marshall Jones
Pigeon Plumtree III, painted by Marshall Jones

In Sarah Phillips book, The Modeling Life, she says, “Standing at a unique juncture–between nude and naked, between high and low culture, between art and pornography–the life model is admired in a finished sculpture, but scorned for her or his posing….”

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Aron Hart
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Aron Hart

She goes on to say, “throughout history, people have romanticized life models in an aura of bohemian eroticism, or condemned them as strippers or sex workers.”

As a female artist, this has never been my perception of an artist’s model. Sadly, after 35 years as a painter, I still occasionally have someone project some nonsense from a book or movie onto me. Just because someone is an artist does not mean they are a starving artist, bad at business, or egotistical.

The passion of an artist is often projected into a fictional version of themselves.  In these fairy tales, it is control over another, not passion, that is portrayed.

In fact, artists are in a business that requires being treated as such. It is a labor-intensive discipline that takes years to master. Finding an artist’s model that can work synergistically with you is a great rarity.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by James Edmond
Pigeon Plumtree III, James Edmond drawing in progress (L) and finished drawing (R)

San Francisco Bay Area Models like Carla Kandinsky became the face and body associated with The Bay Area Figurative Movement in the 60’s and modeled over 50 years. “It was before the feminist movement, before topless dancers had taken over San Francisco’s North Beach nightclub strip. It was far from respectable work. She feared telling people what she was doing for a living”.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Adam Miller
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Adam Miller

When Carla Kandinsky was modeling at the San Francisco Art Institute she was approached about swimming topless in a large glass tank at Bimbo’s and to pose for nude photographs. She declined both. She said she realized art students did not see her as naked. It was form and shadows. It was like looking at a Coke Bottle.

Kandinsky wrote a poem once about her experience of modeling. In one poem she describes, “old men who draw their fantasies, making you years younger with thighs the likes of which you’ve never seen; cruel younger women wielding crayons like razor blades to hack lines deep into your face and draw the droop of breasts with merciless accuracy and older women dabbing in in delicate watercolors, their own lost youth and sex reflected in your painted eyes.”

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Kevin Moore
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Kevin Moore

Barbara Tooma modeled over 4 decades regularly with the California College of the Arts. In Peter Steinhart’s book, The Undressed Art, Why We Draw, Barbara tells us how often “artists project themselves onto the model without even realizing it.”

The Bay Area Models Guild was established 72 years ago by Florence Alan (a.k.a. Flo), herself an artists model over 47 years. Her face and body are familiar to fans of Diego Rivera, Wayne Thiebaud, and Joan Brown. Although Mrs. Alan died in the late 90’s, she left a legacy protecting models from work related risks. Both artists and artist models are screened heavily.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Robin Smith
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Robin Smith

The Guild determines the length of time of poses, breaks, establishes guidelines for both the model and the atelier. Models must hold poses for long periods of time and return to those poses after breaks which is quite strenuous on the body. They must contend with the coldness of most studios and trespassers in university settings.

Longtime model Ginger Dunphy reflected on this recurring problem in The Undressed Art: why we draw by Peter Steinhart. “Crazy people walk into the studio at the Art Institute with cameras and take pictures.”

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Judith Peck
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Judith Peck

Other models, like Marianne Lucchesi, experienced a creepy stranger sneak up on her at an evening session at San Jose State University and try to have a conversation. She had to stop posing, put on her robe and have the man removed.

Art models are so linked with their painters that we can forget we are looking at real people. Chosen for their deportment and stamina as much as their face, models are chosen for their other worldly quality, sensuality, a look of intelligence, or attitude.  An example of an “other worldly persona” would have to include the infamous Lizzie Siddel who was adored by the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood for her beautiful auburn hair.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Elizabeth Zanzinger
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Elizabeth Zanzinger

An artist and poet in her own right, Siddel posed for Walter Deverell, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabrielle Rossetti.She was infamous because a bout of pneumonia left her addicted to laudanum (which she died at age 33 from an overdose). Most of all, she was infamous because Rossetti exhumed her body 7 years after her death, to retrieve a book of his poems he had placed in her grave!

Gustav Klimt sought a model that would mirror the eroticism of Art Nouveau. Viennese fashion designer, Emile Floge was his favorite muse. A sibling of his sister in law, her side parted natural Afro makes her image instantly recognizable.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Judith Peck
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Judith Peck

Today’s artists often look for a model with attitude to reflect the feelings of women tired of being repressed financially, emotionally, physically and politically.

Pigeon Plumtree III is by far the most recognized female artist model in the USA. She is the embodiment of a 21st century woman of attitude. Even her name has attitude. She renamed herself after a Madeline Kahn character. In Road to Avonlea, Pigeon Plumtree was known for her beauty, fame, and selfishness. (Another woman with attitude).

Pigeon has been modeling for 19 years. A friend asked her to sit for her drawing class at a local senior center. “As soon as I settled into the quiet, and the stillness I fell in love. I can still remember the sound of the breeze through the trees and the birds outside. It was a magic place to find within yourself.”

A dancer and an artist by training, artist modeling was a natural evolution to her skills. She moved to New York and spent a decade immersed in modeling for art ateliers, established artists, and attending art openings. It was a long way from the non racially diverse small town in California’s Central Valley she had grown up in.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Harvey Dinnerstein
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Harvey Dinnerstein

Art modeling for pigeon has taken her to ateliers coast to coast. They included The Art Students League of New York, The Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Judith Peck
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Judith Peck

Painted, drawn, and sculpted by many of today’s leaders in Figurative Art, Pigeon has been the subject of Elizabeth Zanzinger, Sharon Sprung, Adam Miller, Zhaoming Wu, Marshal Jones, Oscar Peterson, Harvey Dinnerstein, Mario A. Robinson, Aaron Coberly, and Judith Peck among many others. Several have given her practice sketches or other work of herself over the years. Although Pigeon prefers collecting the Gallery Announcement Cards that features work she is in, she is partial to a small bronze sculpture gifted her by an sculptor she posed for. She feels great gratitude that after years of modeling she can find her work reflected in books, galleries and museums.

I initially contacted Pigeon about writing this article shortly after the second San Francisco Womens March. We both live in the Bay Area and she is such a recognizable face in contemporary art it felt important to include her. Like women across the nation, we discussed our #metoo feelings and experiences and how they have impacted our professions.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Robin Smith
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Robin Smith
Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Clarissa Payne
Painting by Clarissa Payne

Pigeon shared how she was sexually assaulted by a well known atelier student in Seattle several years ago. It was a 4 week pose. The painting she sat for is now well known and that student now is very well known. The original atelier was very professional and she met many artists she worked with for years. Like all women, we are learning to process our anger but not shoot ourselves in the foot professionally. We want to protect others from what we have been through. It only takes one drop of ink to darken a glass of water.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Michael Elsasser
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Michael Elsasser

Pigeon told me that over the last two years she has been phasing out any nude modeling for her own reasons. We both love human anatomy and love the endless blocks of shapes and shadows the nude is capable of.

As an artist I can tell you a body is never the same two days in a row, nor in the afternoon is it the same body it was in the morning. It is one of the most beautiful and challenging subjects for an artist to duplicate. We also discussed our growing unease with how nudes are mis-used in a social media context.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Sharon Sprung
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Sharon Sprung
Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Marshall Jones
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Marshall Jones

Pigeon eventually removed any nudes featured in artwork from her social media pages. Sometimes poses that are not sexual become sexualized in another form by others. Pigeon and I have both have received creepy friendship invites from around the world from people who were seeing something different in the art that was posted. She as an artist model, and me, for the work I paint, but also for the figurative artists stream I curate and write about.

Judith Peck met Pigeon in 2011 at an Odd Nerdrum workshop in New York. Since that time she has completed many paintings featuring Pigeon. Three have been sold already, including one from a Purchase Grant from the D.C. Commission Of The Arts and Humanities. The others will be exhibited at the Gallery at Penn College opening March 15, 2018.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Painting by Aron Hart
Pigeon Plumtree III, painting by Aron Hart

I asked Judith what quality Pigeon has as a model that makes her paint her over and over? “ Pigeon represents every woman and I can project emotion with her body language and expressions”.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Oil Wash by Susan Jansen
Pigeon Plumtree III, Oil Wash by Susan Jansen

Artist models, in the hands of the right artist, can be immortalized through their work. They become the silent voice for the time they live in. Pigeon is one of our voices.

We left our conversation in the mutual hope that society as a whole will evolve out of the sexualization of women. Over the next 8-10 years perhaps girls with selfies will stop turning themselves into masturbation fodder for boys, that toy dolls will not be designed look like hookers. Social Media has created a distortion of our purist creative endeavors.

Female Art Model Pigeon Plumtree III - Drawing by Shana Leveson
Pigeon Plumtree III, drawing by Shana Leveson

 


Featured Image: Artist Model Pigeon Plumtree III at a workshop for Sadie Valeri Atelier.  Photo by Sadie Valeri, featuring artists David Jon Kassan and Shana Levenson.

A Tantric Viewpoint: Living Together vs Marriage

Someone recently asked me why should any man bother getting married? He said men risked being ruined financially by one bad woman. He was lamenting that he could get stuck paying alimony or child support. Why not just live with someone instead?

Let me begin by saying to live with someone is not the same as being married. Marriage is a sacrament where you accept the karma attached to another person. You are agreeing to help the other grow and evolve at an accelerated pace. It is the fastest way to have who you are and who you are not, reflected back at you. We may not like what we see in that process, but we become a better human being because of it.

Living with someone you are not married to does not share that sacrament. I’ve seen people who have lived together 20 years, get married, and are divorced within a year. The reason is because that spiritual agreement kicks in. I think people choose to live with someone instead of getting married because subconsciously they know they’re in a karmic relationship and the growth process is going to hurt.

People do not ruin our lives, our choices do. If you marry someone for their looks or position in society (a doctor, a model, coming from a wealthy family) it is going to be a painful ride. You are marrying them for what you will get from them, not what you want to give to them freely. Choosing a partner based on surface criteria will make you a victim of your emotions. In a spiritual union, emotions enter your consciousness without you having to act upon them.

When you meet someone who shares similar interests, makes you smile easily, really listens to you and you really want to listen back, it is special. A trust develops. They become a mirror of your inner male or inner female part of yourself. Finding someone who helps us develop this part of ourselves is richer and sweeter than we ever imagined. You will thrive in your career because your heart, body and mind are thriving. People will be drawn to that natural expansion. It is very attractive because it brings energy to a room.

I think it’s important to add here that people sometimes forget the source of that expansion when they stop being grateful for their partners. They lose it all when they have an affair with someone who’s confused their newly developed expansion for passion.

With that growth we become the people we were destined to be. Sometimes the person that helped us get there gets left in the dust and they get angry. The key is not to turn your partner into a full time housekeeper, babysitter, slave while you travel or have exciting things happening to you all of the time. The key is balance. Encouraging our partners to study, have time for their own interests, enjoy time with friends. Both people have to honor their own lives in order to bring something to the relationship.

Forcing marriage by pregnancy creates a fragile foundation for a relationship. Having children should be a conscious decision by two people who agree to accept the spiritual/karmic responsibility for another soul. It is a huge commitment but having children is not required in order to have a happy marriage.

I remember meeting an adult friend of my mothers when I was 9. She and her husband lived overseas and traveled all of the time. I asked her if she had any children? She said “no”. I asked, “why not?”

She said, “because we didn’t want any”.

This was mind blowing for me! I said, “you mean we have have a choice?” She laughed and said yes. She told me men and women could have any kind of marriage they wanted. I chose right there and then not to have children.

I knew at age 9 that there are too many children born to people who have them for the wrong reason. If I ever changed my mind, I would adopt. I told all of my girlfriends (to their astonishment) that we didn’t have to have children when we got married if we didn’t want to!

Not only did my interrogator fear a doomed marriage, he also did not want to take financial care of any children if he wasn’t married to the mother. Sadly, he is not alone. It is not uncommon for fathers to ghost out of their children’s lives after a divorce. I find it curious that anyone that makes a conscious decision to have children or adopt them, would choose not to care for them later?

Parents are karmically and financially responsible for the health and needs of children until they reach adulthood. If you do not want to pay child support, don’t marry a woman that wants children. In fact, why not man up and have a vasectomy?

If you truly believe getting married could result in your ruin, arrange to have a pre nuptual agreement drawn up. Make it for ten years. If you are still in love after ten years, renew your vows and tear it up.

Whether living together or considering marriage, beware of your own stinginess. I’ve never met a man that was stingy with money who also wasn’t stingy with his love and as a lover.

If we fear marriage, we need to to ask ourselves if this is really about control? Control is the opposite of love. In Sanskrit the word for God is Ishvara. It literally translates to “the force capable of doing what She wishes to do, capable of not doing what He does not wish to do, and capable of undoing whatever so far has been done.” I’ve always told friends, “the person who controls the most in a relationship loves the least.”

A Tantric Viewpoint - Living together vs Marriage
Marble detail by Giambologna | Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, Italy

Featured Image: Drawing by New York based artist, Maria Kreyn (b.1985, Russia) who often uses herself as a model.