Saturday, September 20, 2014


Nothing in life prepares you for the passage of time.

One of the greatest crimes of the cosmos is lack of perspective. They say that life is a learning experience, but what's the point of learning if, in the process, you're robbed of the opportunity to make use of it? I wish I could go back in time, knowing everything I know now - about myself and everything else - having all the experience I've so far accumulated. I wish I could communicate with myself from an earlier age. I don't think I ever would have guessed that I'd be the person I am now, but I often think that if I had been surer of myself at a younger age, I could have accomplished so much more. I've spent so much of my life being afraid. And that's one thing that still hasn't changed.

From the very start, my work as a [self-]portrait artist has always been to express myself - not just bodily and physically, but thoughtfully as well. It has been a medium of communication between me and a world in which I am often too timid to speak up. I have never been just a model - just a body in an image, displayed on a screen - I have been a model and a person. And my self-portraits are also portraits of my personality, and my lifestyle, and my beliefs - not necessarily by capturing my day-to-day experiences, like the myriad snapshots that turn up on Facebook - but by demonstrating my inner life, which, as an introvert, has always been far more important to me. I would hope that anyone, upon viewing these photographs, would see the depth in them and recognize them as being something so much more than just "dirty pictures".

Friday, September 5, 2014

Outfit of the Day (#ootd) - Double Special!

I wore this outfit the other night. I explained some more details about this pink swim wrap/dress here. With my hot pink purse, and my hot pink flip flops, I was a little bit concerned that it would look like a bubble gum factory had exploded all over me. There is a concern [all the way] at the back of my mind about "trying too hard" to look feminine (instilled in me by other people's reflections), but the truth is, I love the color pink, and I wore this outfit with confidence.

It's interesting to see how my wardrobe has evolved over the years, as I continue to collect pieces, and weed out the ones that don't suit me so well. In the beginning of my "transition" to living as a girl, I would grab anything and everything and try it out, but with experience - the kind of experience most women my age have decades more of than me - I've learned to focus on some combination of the clothes I like, and the clothes that actually look good on me.

That having been said, I'm a very girly girl. I've never really considered the ultra-feminine pieces in my wardrobe to be an expression of the effort I put into being a girl, so much as simply an expression of my personality. If I had been born female, and all other things being the same, I'd still wear all this ultra-girly pink explosion stuff. Because I just like it!

Moving on to a second outfit - I took this picture in the dressing room, but this wasn't an outfit I was trying on, it was actually the one I wore to the store. I was trying on another prom dress (the blue one on the hook). It was really short on top and bottom (which by now you should know I like), but the waist was way too small on me. It's a pity, because it had been marked down to the all-time low price of a dollar!

Anyway, the dress I'm wearing is another one of my favorites. I bought it from a girl doing cartwheels at a yard sale. I don't doubt it was a bit longer on her, but the length suits me just perfectly. It's green, which is my other favorite color, and though I do have trouble keeping it from sliding down and threatening to cause me to flash people in public, it's really easy to slip on and off and is nice and cool for the summer. I actually had one guy in the store that night go out of his way to tell me that he liked my dress. If he only knew. ;-p

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Q: How do you define art?

A: Firstly, I think it's important to ask the question, "how do you define art?", rather than "what is art?", since this is inevitably one of those subjects on which everyone will never agree. And so this is not my attempt to define art so much as an explanation of what I personally consider to be art.

True to my diplomatic nature, I take a rather subjective and radically inclusive approach towards art, that is inspired by the archetypal eighth grade literature teacher's philosophy on wrong answers: the only wrong answer is the one which you are incapable of defending. And so, if somebody - anybody - can make an argument that a certain thing is art, then I am willing to concede that it is art.

The reason I'm willing to do this is because, though art is a form of object, it is not the "thing" of art, but the "effect" it has on the human heart (whether that of the artist or the audience) that matters. Thus I believe that art can indeed be accidental, and both intent and interpretation can create art, not always in the same object.

To be (only slightly) more concrete, I support the theory that art is a [man-made] reflection of life, and the universe that surrounds us. It is an expression of existence as interpreted through human being. It makes some kind of statement (whether consciously or not) about - or it expresses a reaction to - being, as experienced by a conscious intelligence.

None of this makes any distinction between good art and bad art, nor between "high" art (i.e., fine art) and "low" art (i.e., pop art), which are independent scales that are themselves subject to a considerable amount of subjective interpretation. These are all just different kinds of art. But they are all art, and the important thing about art is that it comes from human hands (even as it sometimes reflects the world beyond people), and that it touches the human heart.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sex in Art

One of the troubles with trying to create material that aims to be erotic, is that people's sexual tastes are so varied. Just look at how many different categories the porn industry is splintered into. Different people react to different things, and even one person's erotic triggers can change during the course of one's life.

There may be a certain "common denominator" of human sexuality that can be tapped into, to engender a certain level of response in a large fraction of the population, but that can only go so far. You can write a story about a character who experiences erotic attraction in such a way that the audience can relate to it, but getting the audience to actually respond erotically is a guessing game.

Obviously, this is no reason to refrain from creating erotic materials - even in non-sexual contexts, you can't ever hope to please everyone. There will inevitably be some, for example, to whom the character you write to be likable or relatable is neither likable nor relatable. If anything, I think this supports the artist's impulse to please himself as much as anyone else, which people sometimes call selfish.

But, if you do indeed want your work to be able to be appreciated by a wider audience - and in many cases, this is important, if not the most important thing - what can you do? I think the answer is that you need to appeal to more than just the erotic impulse, so that the people who don't find the work personally very erotic, can still find it appealing in other ways. For example, to an image you could add artistic composition (which is indeed my approach, as an erotic photographer), or to a film you could add drama.

I think this is an excellent argument for a closer marriage between art and pornography, because as it stands, the two are diminished by being kept so firmly separated. Pornography loses its interest and value because it has no redeeming qualities beyond the erotic impulse (which is probably narrowly directed, in most cases, to the subset of the population who will find that instance of pornography particularly arousing).

And on the other side of the divide, we have beautiful art that is afraid to say anything about human sexuality; and when it does, it is derided (whether for its base morals as interpreted as a piece of art, or its pretensions when considered as pornography) to the point that other talented artists are discouraged from applying their talent to the subject, thus resulting in the vast majority of depictions of human sexuality being of the single-minded, unartistic, pornographic variety.

I think anyone and everyone who wants to change this should take heart, and stand up. Ignore the simple-minded masses who insist on fitting everything into neatly delineated categories, and the prudes and moral conservatives who insist that sex as a subject is not befitting the same kind of careful and profound treatment as every other subject ever considered by an artist. And go out there, and make art. Art that crosses boundaries. Art that defies conventions. Art that shatters taboos, and dares to color outside the lines. Get out there and shake things up a bit.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Last Day of August

I recorded a video with this title three years ago, so maybe I should make this some kind of annual tradition, to do something special on the last day of August, in celebration of the summer nearing its end. I guess that's kind of what people use the Labor Day holiday for, but I've always been kind of independent about inventing my own personal holidays.

I probably say this at least once every year, but my favorite season is summer, and thus it stands to reason that my favorite quarter of the year encompasses the months of June, July, and August. Although summer officially starts toward the end of June, and doesn't end until nearly the end of September, I find that the weather in June is more consistently summery than that of September, plus the anticipation of the coming summer during the last days of spring is a happier time than those days when the autumn looms just over the horizon.

Not to say that I don't enjoy the autumn, because I believe it is a beautiful season all its own. And this is something I've really only been able to fully appreciate after I finished my schooling, since before that the fall was always imbued with the utter dread of the anticipation of the new school year. But now that that's no longer part of my life, I can appreciate the mood of the autumn. The approach to Halloween is a perfect time for watching horror movies - and as a humongous horror fan, that gets me very excited.

So it's really not until the winter blows in, and the days are at their darkest and coldest, and I have to start thinking about (read: dreading) Christmas, and the obligations that come with birthdays in my family (even my own) in the following months, that I start to get depressed. But even though I can appreciate the fall, it's still sad to see the summer reaching its end, as the days begin to grow shorter and cooler, and to me it seems like the last day of August holds a kind of significance.

So yesterday I drove to the nearest lake to go swimming with a friend and some of her family. The weather was mild but very humid, with dark clouds hanging in the sky. It drizzled a little bit, but not enough to spoil the day, and in any case, it's likely that the weather kept others from the lake, since we were the only ones there at what I am assured is usually a popular part of the shore (it was the first time I'd ever been to that particular part of the lake). But though the lake water was very cold, the air was just warm and humid enough to be comfortable, and so we had a good time.

This is the outfit I wore to the lake, over my swimsuit. It's a hot pink swim wrap I bought at Walmart several years ago. I love it so much, I own two of them! It's really quick and easy to slip on or take off, and is really short at the bottom and the top (which I love), but unlike other dresses of its sort, the neck tie helps a little bit in keeping it from falling down. Actually, when I first bought it, I thought it was just a skirt, then was delighted to find out that it was really a dress! (The thing hanging from my nonexistent "cleavage" is my keys, lol).

This is the swimsuit I wore, which is the one I dubbed the "mankini" in my Swimsuit Model post. The great thing about natural parks as opposed to man-made pools (other than the lack of an admission fee), is that they usually have less restrictive rules regarding "community standards". (I speculate this same difference exists between fenced-in nudist resorts vs. nudist beaches, but I've never been to a nudist beach yet to compare).

The pool I go to would probably kick me out if I wore a Speedo (they threaten as much on their rules board), and barring a political protest regarding sexual discrimination (which I considered last year), since girls are allowed to wear the skimpiest of bikinis (so long as they aren't thongs), I don't know what if anything can be done about that (indeed, a lot of people are of the opinion that a business should be allowed to discriminate based on their personal principles).

But there's nothing illegal about a man wearing a Speedo-type swimsuit on public land - in fact, you could arguably get away with wearing a thong, although I'm not sure I'm ready to argue that one with law enforcement - and I'd be surprised if anyone with authority had the gall to tell me to change in this instance. So, damn straight I'm going to exercise my right to personal expression as the citizen of a free country! Though, I still find it utterly depressing that homo sapiens is so neurotic that it won't let its members go nude (a.k.a. "natural") when swimming in such a place...

It's not a very large lake, but it is pretty.

Lol, my skin is totally overexposed against these rocks. It looks like it's glowing! That's my moontan, for you. :p

Basking on the rocks...

Is that a crocodile?!

The water was teeming with small fish, who were not shy. They would swim all around you, nipping at your fingers and your toes and the rest of you. I am told this technique has been used in spas as a sort of exotic massage.

My BFF/roommate, who occasionally doubles as my assistant, took most of these pictures with a cell phone camera. If I had known we'd have the whole beach to ourselves, I might have brought my bigger camera. But you never can know with these things sometimes.

This pose was totally inspired by a Jock Sturges portrait.

And this is me doing my Sports Illustrated impression. :p