Comfort Object


I am a member of the New York Figure Study Guild. I had joined for a variety of reasons.

  • A number of people had recommended that I do so.
  • They give opportunities for classes to members first.
  • It seemed like a good thing to have on my art resume.

I had never participated in the Annual Guild Show since I don’t do much with figures in my finished work. This year I wound up volunteering to help them with the Social Media stuff (Facebook and Instagram). At the meeting Enrique was wondering why so many members don’t participate in the show. I explained that for me I don’t see my work as figurative. He encouraged me to put a couple of my portrait paintings in the show…. the face being part of the human body and all.

I agreed to do so and picked out my two favorite life portraits to include in the show.


It bothered me though that they weren’t actually figures. Perhaps I get too caught up in labels… whatever. It was on my mind.

One night I was drawing one of my figure models. I was admiring the curves of her and the confidence and beauty that she resonates. Her beauty comes from the inside and surrounds her in ways she may not be fully aware of. She is comfortable in her own skin is a way that many people are not.

Like a lot of women (/humans) I have issues with my appearance. I am insecure. Some things have happened in my life which have tremendously amplified these fears.

So I am sitting there drawing this woman and thinking how much I would love it if someone in my life could see me the way that I see her. At this point I got very close to sliding down that steep drop off of self pity.

I did not. Instead I decided to pose for myself. To see myself not for what I think I look like nor what I would like to look like – but for my actual real presence. I have a friend who will often say “you can’t photograph it if it isn’t there”. I decided to not try to look “pretty” for my photos. To not focus on the things that I knew I could manipulate to look “good” in the photo – but to be me. My most vulnerable me. The me that wants to be loved. The me that longs to be comforted.

I made the drawing in silverpoint on Plike Paper. If you aren’t familiar with silver point, it is a very subtle medium. You can not only get amazing detail – but you have to get pretty close up to it in order to see what is going on. I felt that worked best for this piece as I wanted the image to feel intimate and lonely. People would have to get really close to the drawing to understand what they were looking at.

The finished piece is about 11″x12′. I framed it without glass so that the silverpoint will be exposed to the air and thus allowed to patina normally. (Plus glass would make it harder to see what was going on & reduce the intimacy of the piece).

This is the first time I have put myself into my art like this.

It was well received and got it’s red ‘sold’ dot on opening night (apparently after I had left – I didn’t find out it had sold until I came to Figure Drawing Monday night).

I appreciate someone liking this piece enough to bring it into their collection and I very much appreciate all of the positive feedback that I received. This was a difficult piece for me to create and to display. I don’t normally make my art so obviously personal (although much of it is).

I don’t know why it appealed to the buyer and I don’t know if they will ever know all of this – but it was good for me to do..

Thank you again everyone for your support and your love. I would be lost without you. Maybe having gone through this process will make me a teeny bit more brave going forward. I hope so.



side note: Since we were only allowed to submit two pieces for the show, I pulled the image of Mark and only submitted Michael and the silverpoint.

~ by justteejay on September 17, 2019.

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