I don’t know if you have seen the news about the unauthorized portrait statue of The Great Orange Face and the excitement it generated. The statue is totally naked. And, as you can see, people reacted by taking pictures of the statue, taking pictures of themselves with the statue, and taking for themselves a good, long look-see. This person naked is somehow inherently more interesting than he is with all his clothes on, and his big red tie too. And I am mystified by that. I mean, we don’t have to actually see him naked to know what he looks like naked. And it is not a pretty sight.
And you know full well that the orangutan we elected did not pose for this statue. It could only come into being because the artist knows enough about anatomy to create it just from what he already knows about the man. The man is naked enough in his daily life that we all know almost everything about his naked character, even though he never seems to be without his business suit. He’s a naked racist. He’s a naked misogynist. He has a naked affection for his eldest daughter and thinly concealed dissatisfaction with his other kids. We see far more of him than we really want to see.
If you are, perhaps, wondering where I am going with this, what today’s theme is, then here it is. All people are naked all the time. (Well, maybe not Iron Man in his suit or soldiers in bullet-proof combat armor, but we are talking metaphorical here, not literal.)
The girl who posed for this portrait, whose name I will not reveal, doesn’t really quite look like this. It is titled Her #2 because it was actually drawn in pen and ink while looking at the original pencil sketch. And she was actually another man’s girlfriend and became another man’s wife. She posed for me out of respect for my art skills and from the urging of others rather than anything I ever said or did. As an artist you never really capture the nakedness of your subject. You can really only capture what is in your own head, your response to the subject, and so, the nakedness becomes your own. This picture shows the awkwardness I felt since I really haven’t drawn a nude model more than a handful of times in my entire life. I made her look younger, thinner, and more child-like than she actually was. She liked the result, at least the version I gave to her, which was different as well. But the nakedness here is really mine.
The girl in the second nude portrait I am sharing is done from more than one photograph, and the red panda was even a picture from a magazine. So again, the picture tells you nothing about the model herself. It tells you about me. The happiness and warmth the picture conveys comes from the colors and the composition. A certain freeness of spirit and joy of life. It probably also helps you interpret this to know that my wife is from the Philippines, and hence, is the actual island girl who inspired this particular piece even though she did not pose for it herself. The nakedness in the picture is not about sex or desire. Rather, it is about innocence and happiness and love, warm sunshine on your naked body while at the nude beach (an experience I have only actually witnessed myself, never taken part in.)
So I am claiming in this essay that everybody is naked when you look at them with eyes of understanding. People reveal their own naked selves by their every action, word, and deed. As a blogger, I am probably more naked than most. I have written a bit about literally everything that touches my life and experience. I am a novelist too, which makes me more naked still. But as I show you my most recent nude self-portrait and contemplate me in my utter nakedness I hope you will agree that I am not a pornographer, and I am not as ugly on the inside as I am on the outside. Be prepared for a slight shock;
Surely you are not surprised that the picture is in cartoon form, and not the picture of a naked sixty-year-old fat man. It is my naked, shy self. On the inside Mickey has always been twelve years old. And keep this in mind. According to my silly art-philosophy bull-puckie, you are naked too.