I talked about my struggles with painting women in a recent blog post, and how a lot of the time I’m not really sure what I’m doing. I came to the realisation shortly after that post that whilst painting women scares the hell out of me, nothing is worth doing if it doesn’t incite a little fear. Because that fear is telling me that I am pushing myself to do better.
I am a strong believer in women’s rights and the importance in creating a society where everyone is equal. I want women to feel empowered, and whilst the series of paintings I am working on started as just something I did for my enjoyment, I think the art and the story should reflect that message.
I met with my friend Amber to talk about some of her opinions on these matters, and to see if there are ways I can make the art really sell that message. Also to avoid any mistakes that could potentially cause offense! Amber is a forward thinker. She has some very progressive ideas and a way of thinking that that is similarly inline with my views. Also, she is a badass filmmaker and you should definitely check out her work!
Here are some of the things we talked about
- What do you believe makes a strong woman?
To be honest I think all women are strong, especially if you think about what we’ve had to suffer throughout history. I think in society there tends to be a stereotype about what makes a woman strong, for example if you work and raise children at the same time.
- By painting a series of strong women, am I in a way telling women that they are not strong, if they are not like my characters? Like the way the media portrays beauty standards
That’s an interesting question! I’ve never looked at anything and thought ‘well that’s not me and that’s not strong’. It’s more in relation to beauty, like you say, how the media represents how women should look rather than whether they’re strong or not. I wouldn’t look at something and think ‘oh that’s so strong, I can’t be like that’.
- Am I thinking too much into this?
I don’t think that this is something that you should worry too much about and it’s more about focusing on making sure the message that you’re portraying is a good one. I think it’s more about showing more ‘natural’ women, I mean as a film maker I would prefer to see something more gritty. I mean the Wonder Woman film was great but I would rather watch something about like a single mum raising her kids – showing that a woman can be strong in ways not usually portrayed in the media. To be honest I think it’s good that you are coming out and talking to me about my thoughts as a woman rather than just making assumptions like some male artists do.
- I may want to show nudity in my work, but I am concerned that it may be seen as distasteful. How do you think nudity can be shown in a way that shows power and strength rather than erotica?
I don’t think that there’s a problem with showing nudity, but again I would rather it not be the stereotypical skinny woman with big boobs that I see constantly in the media. I would want to see curvy women, women with more natural, real features. You just have to look back at much older paintings and see that the women all had much more realistic figures.
In terms of using nudity in a way that could portray power and strength I guess some of it comes down to how they are posed, I think confident poses are really important. For me personally I prefer to use symbolism in my films to represent things like nudity or genitalia, it adds more of a sense of mystery.
- I want people to be able to relate to the paintings in this series, and whilst it is great to show strength, do you think it is also important to show vulnerability?
Yes of course! You want to be able to see that the character is human, that they are relatable.
- If you were to support a series of paintings, what would be the main selling factor to you?
I guess seeing something different, seeing more minority women represented, seeing different body shapes used. I mean also a good vibrant colour scheme along with some decent scenery is also important.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
I think collaborating with a female artist would be something you should think about! Oh and keep talking to your female friends about this. Keep getting their input on their experiences.
Besides in depth conversations into portraying strong women and some of the many issues that surround gender we had a brief shopping trip and spent some time eating a LOT of food. All in all a good day in my books!
A Special thank you goes to Amber for taking the time out of her day to help me with this.
I feel like I have learnt a lot, and this has inspired me to keep this conversation open and talk to more people about the subject. If you have some thoughts on this I would love to hear from you, and don’t forget to join the mailing list for more blog posts like this one. Thank you for reading!