Last night in the studio Huckleberry fell asleep on my lap with all his paws in the air and his belly facing up. If you know cats you will recognize this pose as one of trust. Cats only bare their bellies when they feel secure.
I have been thinking about bellies and stomachs. Guts. And vulnerability. When a person is brave we say she has guts. More accurately we might say that she bares her guts, or makes herself vulnerable. Vulnerability is one of the most important themes of my painting when I paint small intimate oils. I have been missing it during these recent adventures with show-off gold and giant scale. But I think I have found a way to add a feeling of vulnerability to my large work now too. I have started to smooth out some of the ribs and angles of my creatures, adding sagging and bulging bellies. Who at my age doesn't feel vulnerable showing off the sags and bags of stomach and jowls? I'm not saying I want to become Jenny Saville who creates paintings of such extreme exposure they are brutal. I am trying instead for a feeling of intimacy. Think of the extraordinary round and wobbly sac of guts that is a baby's belly. Did nature really design them with no protection for all the important things inside them?
I like when people expose their hearts and guts and fears to me. I like the intimacy of friendships like these. There is no better way, I believe, to feel connected.
I'm going to work a little more on painting these saggy belly animals. I haven't got it right yet.
If this subject interests you Brene Brown has a new Ted Talk that I recommend as well as her original one.