Vulnerability and the stories that come up!
Sitting for a commission portrait can feel very vulnerable, no more so than if you are doing so nude, as I offer in my Body Celebration Portraits.
What comes up first is the immediate nervousness of being naked in front of an almost-stranger. (I say almost, we have always had a god chat and several exchanges of messages ahead of a sitting) Before we start I share that there are always some nerves for me too and that we share this process, it is not just a one way thing. I also lead us both through a gratitude meditation before we start. This is to calm the nerves and to bring up feelings of love and gratitude for each part of our body. After all, the human body is a miraculous thing!
Then the stories around how we feel about our own bodies right now come up. For example, I ate ALL the ice cream through the lockdowns and am now the heaviest I've ever been. These kind of feelings, I am happy to say are not only normal, but also do not seem to deter any of my clients from doing this work. They are often ready to turn an emotional corner, celebrate how far they have come, step into something new and this work is an important part of that process.
Then the external messages arise. These are the hurtful or thoughtless things other people have said to us. These mostly come from family, parents, loved ones. It is as though the closeness there has eroded the barriers and they feel they can say anything, about what we eat, how we dress or about our natural body shape. These can be very damaging, hurtful messages to us and our sub-conscious. We often hold these inside ourselves, for decades!
During the sitting process my clients often share these things with me. Sharing and acknowledging them can help reduce their impact, we can start to let them go.
A major part of this work is to bring up, in the client, the qualities and feelings that they want to feel more of in their lives, that they often lose touch with, their inner strength, power, joy, determination. We talk around these as we work through finding the right pose, while I sketch. And then suddenly...that is it! We find just the right pose, the right moment that captures those feelings. When I draw and paint my client at this point (and the painting usually happens later in my studio) it captures these feelings. The finished artwork, hanging on their wall is a daily reminder of those feelings and acts as a visual anchor to all they want to celebrate in themselves. It is hugely moving work to witness, to be part of and I know just how transformative it can be for the client, having witnessed this many times over now.
After the sitting my clients often feel elation and pride at having taken this step, at having overcome some fears and let go of some old stories that they no longer want to carry.
I love this work with a passion. I am deep in a new commission right now and loving it.
I am also making the next three months available for more Body Celebration Portrait commissions, which can be as simple as a one hour zoom session, after which I send you all the sketches made (you can even buy a gift certificate for one of these sessions for £350 in my artshop) to a range of sizes of paintings on paper or canvas, with a choice of media too.
I first discovered the power of this work by drawing and painting my own body and finding just how I can capture moods and emotions in the painting, in the colours too. I noticed how my feelings around my body changed, improved, with seeing myself in art. It is an utterly different experience to seeing ourselves in a mirror. We view ourselves in an utterly different, non-judgemental way and this is the difference, even over the idea of glamour photoshoots. It transforms...and I feel deeply honoured to offer this work and witness it's effects!