Naked Painting


Dreamweaver, 11 x 15″ acrylic, ink

“You must learn […] to manifest the wildness of an artist. This wildness has many faces. It is an amalgam of passion, vitality, rebelliousness, nonconformity, freedom from inhibitions. Think of this wildness as ‘working naked’.”

– Eric Maisel

Maisel recommends taking this literally –  take off your cloths to paint! He mentions a few of the luminaries in painting history who were known to occasionally paint at their easels in such an immodest fasion. Georgia O’Keefe and Marc Chagall were among them. His point is that artists must nurture their creativity through a number of activities, one of them being to connect with their “wild” side. Doing something outrageous is one way to do this and I can’t think of too many things more outrageous than painting naked. It would solve the chronic problem I have of getting splatters of paint on my best clothes.

Some of his recommendations to “get wild” are a little more tame than this one (though I do aim to try this out once my mother-in-law moves out into her new place). One I like is “think big thoughts” – for example, ask yourself “what is the very most that can be done with the color blue?”. Don’t just make a painting with blue in it, but try something outrageous with blue.

Lately I’ve been connecting with my wild side a little each time I paint by “warming up” with starting a bunch of monoprints. This activity is mainly about getting some color, shape and texture down on paper without the intention of finishing them as complete paintings. Once I feel some energy flowing this way, I switch gears and start moving those inks over to larger pieces and adding acrylics to the mix. Later I go back to the monoprints and work more on those that have some potential. I find I’m more productive once I’ve spent some time just playing to loosen up.

The trick is to maintain the same spontaneity when working on “real” paintings as you have when loosening up. Stay wild!

7 responses to “Naked Painting

  1. Simple things to do to connect to your ‘wild side’ I like it. I totally agree, thanks for the inspiration,…. it’s easy to forget that sometimes simple things are the best way to get creative. Me? I like to paint in pajama pants…. lol.

  2. I did start some of my best pieces “playing to loosen up”! If I only could play like that every day (which is, essentially, the same wish you yourself make with the “real” paintings…inn fact, it shouldn’t be, at best, any real paintings, all should be, maybe, just playing to loosen up…)

    I call my wild side my “weird” sidce…did you know my Adam and the snake watercolor? (I think I’ve posted it somewhere…) Not stupid, either Chagall nor O’Keefe… even if not at all outrageous, if alone… Dali did also some outragius stuff, but for him it was mostly some publicity stunts…

  3. Naked is not too appealing this time of year. But I just had the idea to paint in some wild outfit that’s just for that purpose – some crazy pajamas, like Ed said maybe? Or some kind of hippy, flowy dress. . .and definitely permanently splattered with paint, and some shoes also splattered and maybe some polka dotted socks and an over-sized beret. Hey, I’m getting into this wild thing!

  4. Thanks for the post Bob, I particularly enjoyed this one. Just the right piece of advice for me right now. Sometimes I get too in my head.

    I agree with Susan though, my studio (garage) is freezing right now. Maybe it’s time to paint in a snow parka!

  5. Even here in Andalusia it is cold!
    i am glad I don’t need to get naked to paint wild… I already said it sometimes, I am kind pf prude with my own nakedness, even in front of myself!
    But perhaps it is not being prude, as in fact I am not really. I think I simply always need something upon my body… I don’t like “to feel naked” (except in water and in love)… strange is that I love to feel naked intellectually or emotionally. I think I have no emotional or intellectual fear, but my physical fear is quite developed… sorry, it is not eh subject of your post, I was carried away!

    Well, there is a little connection though… I believe that the connection with “the own Wild” is reached when we forget our fears. Easily said, I know. But there is a very simple, trivial brain trick to forget the fears, at least for a while. Well, it works with me. Juts telling myself:
    “I have nothing to lose!”
    and in fact, we have nothing to lose in our creative process, except… the fear!

  6. And again I forgot to say that I like your painting very much!
    i have noticed that many times: when one brings the readers into a discussion, they forget to comment the art work!

  7. Bob, your comments are as “wild” as your paintings! By the way, I keep seeing a very “wild” eye on the middle left side of the image…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s