Art. Backstory. Why do I sketch naked men? And why erotic poses?

I remember my fascination with the male body began when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old. Big catalogs came for the holidays. My father was and is a Jehovah’s Witness, so holidays usually meant going back to school and dealing with being embarrassed about no Christmas Presents, no Thanksgiving, no Hannukah Presents, and no birthday presents.

The first year after the divorce, and every year after, my mother wanted to celebrate Christmas, and we did.  There were lots of pictures in the big catalogs of what everyone was supposed to want on their list. As for me, I was always drawn to the two or three pages of men’s underwear. There were always pages and pages of women’s underwear and I always flipped right past them, searching for the two or three pages of men in their underwear. JC Penney’s catalog was always more fascinating, as back in more modest times, any protrusions or displays that indicated a man had a penis were removed from the pictures. In Photoshop, it’s now done with a “dodge” tool, where any shadows or contours are made smooth, like a Ken doll. Smooth. I tore out some of the best of them and hid them to be looked at in secret. Yes, I was a slightly pervy kid.

When I got old enough to have a paying job, I waited for the day when I could buy porn. One of my first purchases with that paycheck when I came of age was, of course, gay porn.

The surprising thing about growing up in a big family with 3 brothers was that I had never really seen a naked body other than my own. Great pains were taken never to risk seeing anyone naked. Through junior high an the horrors of mandatory showers, eyes were always locked on the walls or above the neck of the other guys. The risk of being the kid in the shower who popped a boner and earning the mocking scorn and hatred was impetus enough to make anything that could have been potentially erotic completely uninteresting.

My family eventually found my porn that was in my room in a locked cabinet. There was a confrontation like those scenes from “Intervention.” What was addressed was that I was dirty. And wrong. The porn could somehow endanger the children from behind its locks. What was not addressed that someone invaded my privacy, confiscated something that was mine that I paid for, and burned it. One of my excuses as to why I had a cabinet full of pics of naked men was that I was using them as models to draw from. That was slightly true, as I did have naked men in my sketchbook. Sexuality, or the fact that I’m Gay was not a topic I was going to even approach in a room full of judge-y and angry ex-Jehovah’s witnesses. There were enough reasons for my family to pick on me and call me names without icing the cake, so to speak. Being the person of artistic temperament at home and at school made for many unhappy and misunderstood days. Choosing to go to Art School rather than in for a “real job” was another reason for people to be unhappy with me.

Then there was Art. The reason I was likely able to escape the cycle of suspension, expulsion, time in the court systems, and sometimes jail of many of my brothers and friends was the fact that I could draw. I applied to and was accepted to Tyler School of Art in Elkins Park, PA, and had to find housing. My choice was poor. I selected a boarding house of an elderly diabetic who could not countenance the smell of food in her home, and her son who was a cook in a seafood restaurant and an aspiring crack head.  I wasn’t allowed to put a lock on my room door and didn’t realize that without a lock on my door, the other people in the house would go through my room and for a few successive months, steal my rent money before I could even give it to the landlady. This meant having to quit school to find a job that I could pay for a place to live, and it eventually meant that I had to quit school. Thanks to the kindness of a friend and her family, I found a spare room and a job, after the briefest attempt to join the US Air Force.

Let’s just skip over the Customer Service Representative years, and the going back to school to become an Accountant years, and the Credit Analysis and training people how to collect money years. I was successful, to a point, but never really felt like I was happy or doing what I really wanted to do.

One day I just decided, I can’t train another person or call another person to ask them to pay their bills, and document the story as to why they couldn’t or that they did, blah blah blah. So I went back to school, but this time for Graphic Design. This began my merry adventures following my partner in his nomadic quest to find a suitable position. Let’s just say there was a repeating cycle which usually ended in following my partner across the country, with the stipulation that where ever we landed, it had to be somewhere that I could continue my degree.

So I got a degree, started pouring my creative energies into Graphic Design and didn’t touch a brush, canvas, or sketch pad for almost 12 years.

The problem is, there was always an easel and canvases and a box of paints and brushes. After the breakup with my partner, and my subsequent moves into my own places, the easel, the canvasses, and brushes always followed. I ignored them. Put rooms in my house that were supposed to be a studio and an office, but were rarely more than that room where I kept the computer on which I answered email and looked at internet porn.

One day, I received notice of a gallery show in Washington DC. The subject matter of the show was nude men. I attended the show and immediately noticed after looking at the sketches on the wall that many of them were erotic and did not shy away from full disclosure of the erotic aspects of the models.

They had hard dicks.

Some of them looked like they were actively in a state of maintaining arousal. I asked and was told there was a sketch group that met once a week to draw a nude male model and the show was the result of the working sessions. At the time, I was doing Yoga once a week and found that with all the breathing and the stretching, for the amount of money I was paying out each week to go to classes, I really wasn’t getting anything other than frustrated.  So I transferred my yoga energies into my drawing and had the added benefit of seeing artwork that I found erotic and exciting and tapped into that pervy little kid inside who liked the JcPenny catalog more.

I drew for a year and it resolved itself for me into a project that eventually once my skills stabilized, it would be time to open the paintbox again and get back to work.

The subjects of my paintings are from the year’s worth of sketches I did at my Thursday night drawing group. A subset of the Thursday night drawing group, the Naked Drawing Group was the result of a series of conversations had with some of the more free-thinking  and perverse members of the group who wondered aloud, “What would it be like to draw in a session in which both the model and the artists are all naked?”

It turns out, we are men. There are erotic energies that are impossible to hide. The difference between the clothed sessions and the naked sessions is that rather than trying to hide the erotic energy behind clothes and stances with a hand in pocket while drawing, the energy is acknowledged, incorporated into the creative process, and lends a certain amount of erotic energies to the works produced. Each session brings its own benefits. On Thursday, I tend to concentrate more on technique. On the alternate Tuesday Naked Sessions, the creations are more focused on expressing the energy in the room and translating it onto paper. Some weeks produce better results than others.

So taking the long path, it took me 20 years journey to get to a point in which I am actually doing what I think I should have been doing all along – creating Art.

I have a show coming up at the Vitruvian Gallery on 7th street in Washington, DC
Here’s a link to their site:

http://vitruviangallery.com/

The show is on Saturday, September 21, 2013 4:00 PM -10:00 PM.

Since I cook, as you’ve seen in previous blog postings, there will be some of the creations from the blog served.  If you are in the Washington DC area, please feel free to stop by and bring friends. Some of the sketches you’ve seen on this blog will also be on display.

I hope to see you all soon. Wish me luck in the final few weeks as I push to finish a few more pieces for the show.

About gojohnego

Avid foodie and kitchen tinkerer, artist, news junky and political wonk, musician, blogger, naturist, dog-daddy, and owner of a kinky play-space. ...and did I mention I'm single ;)
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2 Responses to Art. Backstory. Why do I sketch naked men? And why erotic poses?

  1. Good luck. Sounds like you’ve had a challenging road, but I’m proud of you for not losing your creative impulse, nor your affection for big hard cocks. Know that there are plenty of people who support your pervy-ness. Go forth and rock that show, brother.

  2. Ruth says:

    Having watched much of this story unfold from the front row I have to say how proud I am of the man you have become. You are an inspiration to us all to follow our dreams. I wish you all the best on your show I know it will be amazing.

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