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International Women

Well yesterday was International Women’s Day and I was honoured and delighted  to be asked to do a talk about being an Erotic Artist at the Library at Burton on Trent in celebration of it, alongside designer Mariama Tushemeriirwe, author Janet Bennett and singer Hayley Di Rito who was accompanied by Blue Yates on the guitar. And I feel that the audience were very appreciative of our talks and that we were very inspirational for them. It was interesting for me to hear the other speakers talk about aspects of their lives, and to hear the positive affirmation of striving to follow your dream, overcoming hardships, finding people who inspire and help your creativity, finding support through like minded people, and being brave enough to tell others about it, and finding how much they appreciate the fact you do! Wow! What a night!

Various friends had rung, emailed or texted me to wish me good luck before hand, which was really sweet that they were thinking of me and wanted to wish me well with their support, I really did appreciate it!

I arrived a good hour early and was met by the positive and ever helpful Janet, who works at the library, and introduced me to the lovely Mariama, and we were shown the set up and the stage and seating for the audience. Ok, it was relaxed and informal and the emphasis was on the word “fun” for the evening. I’d been practicing my talk for a few days beforehand, and hoped that I wouldn’t dry up during it! I was on in the first half, after Mariama had spoken. Then there was to be an interval for coffee and then Janet spoke, followed by Hayley singing. I’d met the delightful Hayley briefly in somewhat different circumstances, since she was at the house of a friend of mine the other week, and we’d said hi over a game of Trivial Pursuit!

There were enough people in the mostly feminine audience for me to still feel that I could relate to them as individuals and I was delighted that they came to speak to me before and after my talk, and at the end of the evening. Some were inspired enough to want to talk to me about the possibility of me doing commissions for them, some wanted to talk about the prints I’d taken with me, and some wanted to talk about their interest in art. All interesting, as ever, and really nice to interact with them as friendly people. The head librarian asked me afterwards how many times I’d said my talk before and was surprised when I said it was the first time. He said that it sounded natural and I said that I’d been practicing it out loud  for the last few days, so I’m glad that I did, even if the cat was a little bemused my by actions!!!!

It’s been interesting for me to sum up my life so far in a succinct talk lasting 20 minutes, to complete strangers. I looked at the who-what-why-how-where-when aspect to help me put it in order. And its really focused me again on to what I do and who I am. One woman told me afterwards that she was enthralled with my talk, so that was great to hear! And for those who missed it – this is the basis of my talk:

Hello, I’m Jackie Adshead and I’m a landscape painter.
I also paint portraits of humans and animals, houses, scenes and various objects,  cats and dogs, horses, tigers and other big cats, children, mythical beasts, and fantasy pictures. But you’re not interested in that, because no one ever is! I don’t know why, but people are always far more interested in the fact I do Erotic art, more than anything else! And for some reason, I always seem to sell more erotic art than the “normal stuff”. But then what is normal? For me, erotic art is.

I’ve spent all my life painting. I’ve never stopped since I first picked up a crayon as a toddler, and I had my first commission at the age of 13 for my history teacher at school, and I’ve painted many things for many people, but the artwork has changed a bit since then! So I’ve always had the talent to paint within me, but I like to push my boundaries a bit, and like a challenge, and love to be creative so for that reason I am probably unusual in that I will paint any subject matter, I don’t limit myself to just painting flowers, or landscapes, or people. Or to a certain style. I love to paint in watercolours, acrylics or oils. And to draw with pencil or pen and ink. And I do surreal, abstracts, fantasy, camouflage art, as well as representational. I am a painter rather than an illustrator. In that I try to catch the essence and feel of the subject rather than a totally true representation. You can use a camera for that. But the image will be more stark. Painting is softer and more accepting, accentuating the good bits, and lessening the bad bits.


I know I am unusual in that I am a woman doing erotic art. But I love doing it, as an artist painting other people and making them look good. I love to see women in art, and painting art for women, as a woman artist. I believe all women can look erotic, regardless of their age, or body size. We all like to feel attractive, it’s that that I try to find, to pick up on, and put the essence of it into the painting.


I am most inspired by Caravaggio for his dramatic use of light and deep darks. And I also love the work of Dali, Jack Vettriano, Boris Vallejo, Frank Frazetta, Josephine Wall, Jim Warren.


I must admit, as far as jobs go, there aren’t many jobs where it’s perfectly normal for people to take their clothes off for you – but my job is one of them! People feel at ease when I draw them. They take their clothes off, and I just keep the eye contact, and whatever they look like is ok. They will only find it strange if the response is negative. To me it’s a positive experience.

Having said that, as far as I’m concerned drawing a human body is just the same as drawing a bottle or a vase of flowers, I look at the lines, and the tones, the form, where the light is hitting the body and work out the best composition. People sometimes ask me if I’m turned on by looking at the erotic images, and are probably surprised when I say that I am not. Its just work for me! Because it’s just an object I’m drawing regardless of what it is. But, what I have to bear in mind when I draw an erotic image is that I don’t feel sexy when I’m drawing the picture, and the model might not even feel sexy if it’s a difficult pose and they’re trying to keep still for me. But, what I need to capture is that certain something, the essence, that will make the viewer feel erotic when they look at it. And that is such a subtle thing to capture, and is something that may be different in all of us.


The way I describe “erotic” is that it is something that makes you wonder…… what has that person done beforehand to now be in that position and place and time, and what are they going to do next? The way I describe “erotic” is this – if I draw any one of you sitting here as you are now, it would be a portrait. If you were sitting here in the same position stark naked, then it would be a life drawing pose. If you were sitting here stark naked doing something graphically sexual (and I’ll leave that to your vivid imaginations!) then that would be pornographic. But that leaves nothing to the imagination. But what I draw is the erotic – the sensual, the sexy and the suggestive. And I can draw an erotic image where the woman in it is fully clothed, because it may just be the look on her face that makes it look erotic. And erotic is becoming more acceptable in main stream. We’re all used to seeing erotic images in magazines and on the telly – and don’t tell me that Nigella Lawson isn’t promoting erotic, because she is! Her cooking is a by-product! It’s the enjoyment of sensual things – whether its food, sensual experiences or erotic art.

How I started being an Erotic Artist was by attending life drawing classes about ten years ago, and I found that a strange experience to start with, until I realised that although the room was full of people, and one of them was totally naked, it was all quite normal, and the naked woman was an object, like a beautiful vase, and not something that was considered dirty and rude, so I just got on with drawing, as was everyone else in the room, and I realised how difficult it is, because if you draw a tree, it doesn’t matter if the trunk is a little too wide, or if one of the branches is too long, but it does if it’s a human body, the measurements have to be right, and the arms and legs need to look like they are all connected to the body and that the head sits on the shoulders. But after a few weeks of being at a life drawing class and looking at the work I’d done, I wondered how I could make it look more interesting, and life like, and I realised that it’s what I was leaving out that made the picture more interesting, as it leaves it to your imagination. And I drew with white crayon on black card instead of black pencil on white paper and that made it more dramatic. And it evolved from there.


I love it when someone contacts me and wants me to paint their passion, because then I can put my passion into creating it for them. And it doesn’t matter if it’s erotic or not, I just love painting!


But as well as erotic art I love painting secrets – and have done some erotic landscapes (see, I told you I was a landscape painter!). I had a commission a few years ago from a chap from Windsor, who asked me to paint a picture of the New York skyline at night as the typical picture but with an erotic couple hidden within the painting so that people viewing it wouldn’t know unless they looked closer or had it pointed out to them. And also that very same week (and there must have been something in the air that week!)  that he asked me to paint that picture I was commissioned to do a painting for a woman in Dorset who wanted an erotic picture to hang over her bed that her four year old son wouldn’t recognise as anything other than a landscape. She wanted me to paint an erotic landscape where the couple are actually the geography of the land – the picture is based on Lands End – there is sky, sea, cliffs, a beach, sand dunes, a cave, and a tree, and a bit of a phallic lighthouse in the distance. And to innocent eyes, this picture is nothing more than that. But to less innocent people, it is far more than that. You can see the man and the woman within the picture, and you can see what they are doing. It is both erotic, and a landscape. And it’s the thing that I am most proud about, because it took three months of hard work to design it. And innocence only sees innocence in my work.


But as well as that I love hiding the subject matter within my art too – like in the set of erotic feminine abstracts that I have painted that just looks like brightly colourful abstract shapes, but are actually a very intimate picture although most people looking at it wouldn’t have a clue – which makes it the ultimate conversation piece as far as I am concerned! A female Sex Therapist told me that a lot of her patients have issues with their body image, and seeing my beautiful and positive paintings might help them to over-come that. They have empowered the women who have participated in them, since they find them therapeutic and spiritual, and a little bit naughty as well! They are currently hanging on walls in America, and England, and a woman contacted me from New Zealand in raptures over them and what they stood for. I love the fact they are affecting women world wide. I painted one for a woman in Canada whose young step-son described it as “the sky diving picture”, because that was what it looked like to him. Again, innocence only sees innocence.

And from doing those pictures I was asked by a woman in California to paint a body portrait of her in the style of the feminine abstracts . She rang me specifically to tell me which tones and shades of which colours she wanted in it, and which she didn’t. And that’s how I developed the “Living Flame” pictures. They are pastel colours glazed one on top of the other to create pretty and translucent shades which everyone seems to find very appealing. I’ve painted a chap from London in this style, as well as a couple which I sold to a collector of my work, in Chicago. I love the fact that one painting might lead on to another one because of one aspect that evolves into another and so on. The ideas for the art flow on and I love that aspect.


And I like to hide messages within my art too – like when I was asked to do a watercolour painting for a couple from London of a particular village in Southern France that they had visited a lot, and I suggested that they might like their initials hidden within the buildings itself. They loved that idea, as it made it far more personal to them, but I knew we were going to have a problem, as did the woman when I mentioned it. So, I had to just put in just their initials, and not the “and” part – since otherwise it would have spelt out “M & S” or worse still “S & M”!

I have exhibited a lot in the East Midlands, and with the Guild of Erotic Artists who are based in St. Albans in the Hertfordshire. I am featured in their second book, and have copies to sell if anyone is interested. It’s an international group and they actively try to promote the acceptance of erotic art. Having said that of course, it’s becoming more and more acceptable when you open most glossy magazines, or look at the adverts on the telly. But it’s a really nice friendly group to be part of and they are very supportive to everyone in the group. I have exhibited twice at Erotica (the liberated lifestyle event) at Olympia in London, which was an eye opening experience and great fun! I got chatting to a guy there who asked me “Why is a nice girl like you exhibiting here?” and the answer I gave him was that if I could sell enough vanilla artwork then I wouldn’t need to sell erotic stuff! But, I do love doing it, because it’s difficult, and the most challenging of art to do, because of the subtle nuances of it. It’s my niche market, and its one I love.


I am on Facebook. I have a website which promotes my art worldwide, and I write a blog about being an erotic artist, and some of the very strange conversations I have with people. Someone once thought I was an erratic artist. And someone else thought I was a neurotic artist, I don’t know how one of those paints, very shakily, I suppose!

I have had a number of people brought to tears through a special commission that they’ve asked me to do, and when that happens I know it’s because I’ve touched their soul with mine. I know that people like to see what they look like through another person’s eyes, and I know I have been good therapy to some of the people who I have drawn, because they’ve told me so, with emotion in their voices. Someone I drew with a perceived lack of confidence says I’m good therapy because she was surprised I wanted to draw her and that she was so inspirational for me. Her elderly mother got emotional because when she saw the images as it reminded her of how she was as a younger woman. I have seen within them and it’s deeper than looking in a mirror.


And I’d like to think that I have brought a lot of pleasure to people through my art. I know I have done so far, and I hope to continue to do so. I try to touch people’s hearts and hope that they feel more enriched through knowing me. And I hope that I am an inspiration.


What I love most, and try to paint, is the thing that I think is most important in the world. And that is the power of communication – whether it is through the spoken word, touch, empathy, painting pictures for other people’s pleasure, or for my own, the written word, or just the look between two people. And as a woman, I think that’s important for us all.

Thankyou.

I've been an artist all of my life, and my paintings now hang on walls in Europe, USA and Canada. I'm working on getting them on the other continents! My wide range of artwork has been exhibited nearer to home in the East Midlands, with the Guild of Erotic Artists at Beaumont Hall Studios in Hertfordshire, and at "Erotica", Olympia, London. I have also been featured alongside my work in the Guild of Erotic Artists book (volume 2). I love to create dramatic interest in my pictures, whether it’s to paint an unusual landscape, or just to utilise dramatic lighting in my figure drawings or strong colour in my animal portraits. Delighting in the spontaneous tendencies of watercolour adds an interesting and distinctive look to my paintings, some of which are purposefully ambiguous, enabling the viewer to use their own interpretation of my artwork. I also love to hide images, and humour within my paintings, whether it’s a secret message, or an erotic couple hidden within a landscape, or even an erotic landscape where the couple are camouflaged as the features of the land itself. I am equally happy painting in oils, acrylics or watercolours and love to draw with pencil or ink. I have also developed the very effective method of drawing using white pencil on black card which creates dramatic pictures by just picking out where the light catches the body and leaving the rest of the image to the imagination, in darkness. I can also utilise many different styles, whether it is realistic, abstract, surrealistic, erotic, fantasy or camouflage art where something is hidden within the painting. I'm just passionate about my art, whatever I paint! But, it doesn't matter how many landscapes or pet portraits I paint, its always the erotic stuff that people are interested in! I started blogging to share some of the strange conversations I have with the people I meet. But its evolved into far more than that now.

Comments (12)

  1. Lucy Felthouse
    Mar 9, 2011

    Oh no 🙁 I'd have totally come to this if I'd known! You should have emailed me 🙁

  2. Jackie Adshead
    Mar 9, 2011

    Lucy – Now she tells me!!! 🙂
    I'd mentioned in on Facebook and on my blog, so presumed people were aware of it. So, I'm sorry you missed it, and that I didn't email you direct.

    I'll let you know personally if I do another one!

  3. Joanna Cake
    Mar 9, 2011

    Yay! Go Jackie! x

  4. Jackie Adshead
    Mar 9, 2011

    Joanna – Thankyou!! I was really pleased I got to mention the Fantasy Fannies too, you'll be glad to hear – they're the thing that shows that I am a female International Artist empowering women more than anything else I've done. And I know they are important to you too!

  5. BlazngScarlet
    Mar 9, 2011

    If I didn't live across the pond I would have been there! lol

  6. Jackie Adshead
    Mar 9, 2011

    Blazng Scarlet – I know you would, but it's a bit far for a 20 minute talk! Which is why I've done this blog post so at least you can benefit from it this way.

  7. One Woman's Thoughts
    Mar 10, 2011

    Ahhhh . . . if only I didn't live the other side of the pond.

    I delighted in your post and think you'd be a pub full of fun to chat with.

    On occassion I take erotic photographs and when people are uncomfortable being nude, it always amazes me the realxing and uninhibiting power of a hat or shoes or shawl.

  8. Jackie Adshead
    Mar 10, 2011

    One Woman's Thoughts – Aw, thankyou, and again, that's the reason I wrote this blog post – for the International Women who read it!

    Mm…. that's interesting regarding the erotic photos, I can understand the shawl as it would cover more than a hat or shoes. That is, as far as a woman is concerned, perhaps it's different for men!

  9. Ian Griffin
    Mar 10, 2011

    Wonderful speech Jackie. Congratulations! It always pays to practice before speaking in public (if you have a video camera try looking at yourself delivering a practice speech next time.)

    Best wishes

    Ian (your speechwriter friend in California).

  10. Jackie Adshead
    Mar 10, 2011

    Ian – Thankyou, and many thanks for the tip – but I'm no-where near your league, you're the professional!

  11. nitebyrd
    Mar 10, 2011

    Brava, Jackie!

  12. Jackie Adshead
    Mar 10, 2011

    Nitebyrd – Thankyou! I wish you'd been there!

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