I just returned from a vacation to Asheville, North Carolina. My husband and I fell in love with this laid-back city with its rich diversity, art culture, craft beers, international cuisine, music scene, Blue Ridge Parkway, mountain air, and dog-friendliness. The dress code in Asheville is “suit and tie or tie-dye.” Asheville is also the home of America’s largest home, George Vanderbilt’s 250-room Biltmore House. What a masterpiece of architecture and landscaping!
“Painting fast gives the opportunity for the mind to be quiet. It shuts off. Don’t want to let the mind interfere. I don’t want any judgement. I don’t want to have any deep meaning or any kind of meaning. I don’t want it to be mentally preconceived. That’s the beauty of letting go. Love to see that spontaneity – that naturalness – the purity of soul – of expression.” – Jonas Gerard
While we were touring the River Arts District, we walked into the fabulous gallery of artist, Jonas Gerard. We were captivated by his bold use of colors, large canvases, creative energy…and the hospitality of his staff and the artist himself. Watch this wonderful video of Jonas painting.
As we strolled his expansive gallery, we met Jonas and had a marvelous conversation. He asked if we wanted to see his latest work and we got the rare opportunity to go behind the scenes to see his studio and work in progress. He was working on a new series incorporating female nudes into his abstract canvases. It was stunning and tastefully done. He told me that he was having trouble recruiting models to pose for his new series. He wasn’t interested in unnaturally skinny, airbrushed young women models with “perfect” bodies, but rather older women with “real” bodies. He wanted women who were comfortable in and appreciative of their bodies.
He then popped the question.
Jonas invited me to be a model for his new series. He offered me an evening session the next night. My face must have turned shades of bright purple and orange, just like a canvas in his studio. My husband who was with me inquired if he could purchase the final canvas and what kind of discount he could get. Thanks for the support, honey!
Meanwhile, all sorts of crazy thoughts were racing through my head. I began to experience a level of performance anxiety that was uncommon for me. The thought that I would be totally exposed, naked to the camera, and then translated onto canvas both scared and thrilled me at the same time. I managed to wiggle my way out of this once-in-a-lifetime invitation with the excuse that we were leaving town the next morning and wouldn’t be able to make the appointment. He gave me his business card in case I reconsidered.
As we left Jonas’ gallery, I was walking on air. My husband told me that I received quite the compliment. I felt that I had just been given quite the challenge.
Then it hit me.
This must be what it feels like for my clients to stand in front of me with their practice presentations ready to be critiqued and coached. Exposed. Vulnerable. Uncomfortable in their own skin. Judged. Tight. Anxious. Perhaps fear of public speaking is right up there with fear of posing nude? Perhaps this is why it’s easier to hide behind our PowerPoint slides rather than expressing ourselves and our ideas more openly? It’s like being naked in front of your audience.
I imagine that after the initial awkwardness, I might have settled down, resumed my breathing and relaxed. I’ll never know because I declined the opportunity. But then I will always have the memory of being invited. Posing nude for a fine artist is not on my bucket list, but being comfortable in my own skin is.
Thank you Jonas Gerard to allowing me to examine my fears and feelings around this important aspect of self-expression and acceptance.