At the Core of a Creative Existence

I watched an interesting movie yesterday while I was moping about, called Séraphine. It was a French movie about an average woman, leading a life of hardships, doing whatever jobs possible in 1927 France and who had a passion for painting. She thought she was given a blessing by god that pushed her to follow her gifts. She did not really understand why or where the divine inspiration actually came from, but was compelled to paint at whatever the cost. She was a middle-aged woman, older than myself, living in a place and time of poverty. Yet she found the greatest joy in nature and collected items from her environment to temper and color her paint, blood from a cow liver, mud from a creek, flowering plants by the roadside. She brought these elements into her small one room living space and spent the nights grinding these items into her paints, then created amazing images of that nature in vivid almost childlike impressions. The woman who played Séraphine Louis (Yolande Moreau) was mesmerizing at bringing such honesty and truth to the character. In the end she is discovered as an old lady. The success drove her mad, and she spends her last 10 years in an asylum, disconnected from nature and painting as her imagery becomes legendary.

I saw so many parallels between Séraphine and myself. For many years I have worked in a world of seclusion, being compelled to create something that I never quite understood. I have worked many jobs, just trying to make a living in order to survive. I know my desire is for the naked male, it is my divine inspiration. My connection to my own desires is so strong it often becomes intoxicating. Yes, I know gay men are supposed to become obsessed by sex and the flesh, but somehow it’s not the sex that I am drawn to, it the emotional feelings and what is stirred within those moments before or after sex that I am most fascinated with. It almost seems, to physically touch someone dispels the allure and the touch often leads where I have been so many times before, becoming lost or blinded by its emotional entanglement. I caress my subjects not with my hands, but with the light. I adore their beauty, idolize their skin for its soft silky textures and the way the light glistens on the nape of their neck. Sex is actually the furthest thing from my mind when I am shooting. Sure there are those moments when I become aroused by the process, and it is those moments when I know my images will gain their greatest potency, because I am truly in touch with the erotic core of my process. As Séraphine brought her connection to nature into her vision, I bring that world of sensuality and seduction I have known and longed for into my vision. I realize now it has been the core of my life. I am romantic at heart, I have always been romantic. I spend my nights grinding all the elements of my existence into the tools of my pallet. I have yet to make any money on this process and live my life on the edge of finical struggle. I have the skills, talents and tools to create something that is more viable and commercial, but then it’s really not my vision anymore and becomes something created for others. Though my style and approaches have changed, I am still true to myself and it still remains the journey into myself. I do fear the influence success could have on what I do and I think in many ways it sort of holds me in this place struggling to survive. I am the most content when I am creating. Though my focus is shifting toward self promotion, I still can step back into my world of beautiful light and find the security of those remarkable highly intimate moments with my subjects when the ordinary is allowed to become extraordinary.

2 thoughts on “At the Core of a Creative Existence

  1. Marklin

    >One of my all time favorite movies, you should watch Modigliani with Andy Garcia next , if you have not seen it.

  2. oruboris

    >Remember Harry Chapins song about Mr. Tanner, the baritone dry cleaner:
    "And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul.
    He did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole."

    The first step for a creative person is CREATING.
    The second step is SHARING.
    The third is finding an audience…
    And the fourth, finding a way of living BY your art, as well as FOR it.

    Sadly, very few make that fourth step… but it seems to me that you've mastered the first three, and the quality of your imagery is such that I firmly believe number four is only a matter of time.

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