Body Painting and a Shifting Perception of the Nude Human

A group of Xingu women applying body paint in Brazil, South America

Body painting is not something new for Pride parades, or World Naked Bike Rides, or for some publicity, or for a modern art installation. It has roots that go back a long ways as these images from South America and Africa hints at.

Mursi men from Ethiopia, Africa

Celtic  warriors from the past were known to be painted in order to instil fear into their enemies. My first meeting with the idea of body art was through my father who got a tattoo as a soldier, a symbol of sorts of who he was as a soldier.

Saskatchewan Roughrider fan

In a way, we still do the same thing today at sporting events where it is the fans in the stands who get painted up for battle-by-proxy. Of course, it isn’t just painted faces for sporting events, there is hardly a children’s event without face-painting or temporary tattoos as part of the event.

World Naked Bike Ride- painted people.

A number of years ago, it became an art form that was looking to stretch the boundaries of the art world with living art. It didn’t take long for the nudist world to adapt the activity for their purposes such as the World Naked Bike Ride that rolls through many cities around the world. There is the aspect of theatre which allows people to disguise their normal self for the events, daring to be nude in public.

Sea of Blue in Hull, U.K.

With the introduction of large scale body-painting events such as the Hull, Sea of Blue, by Spencer Tunick, there becomes even more anonymity – perhaps even a hint of democracy – because of large numbers. And in the process, the human body is being seen clothing free by a larger public who are curious. The fear factor of the naked human body is wearing down, bit by bit because of these efforts, with body-painting being an integral part of that shift in consciousness about nudity.

Nude Modelling and Self Worth

Lanie

I have made quite a number of friends, both male and female, who have carved out a new role in their lives, that as a nude model for life-drawing classes. One of these new friends is Lanie who is seen here in a number of images from her modelling sessions.

Natural curves and folds when in a sitting pose.

I am not sure if the positive self-image comes first, or if it builds as one risks such intimate exposure to others, especially when those others are unknowns who look closely at all the folds, bends, blemishes, and whatever it is that we don’t value about ourselves.

I imagine that there must be a certain level of self-confidence for even the first modelling session to take place. As well, it is likely that the more one poses, the more self-aware and self-confident one becomes. After all, the more one is nude in front of others, the less that nudity becomes a worry. Nudity becomes the norm.

With a laying down pose changes the body’s lines.

There is little doubt in my mind that with time and increased modelling experiences, life outside the art studio begins to carve more space for nudity, increasing the time spent clothing free.

Through a gown of gossamer

However, I wouldn’t be so certain that one becomes a nudist or naturist as clothing often becomes part of the exploration of one’s exploration of self. One becomes more conscious of self-presentation.

I conclude today’s post with a fun photo of Lanie which radiated self-confidence. I wonder if I would ever dare be a nude model? I wonder if anyone is looking for an older male life model for art classes? It’s a rhetorical question for my life is rather too full to make time for this. Thanks, Lanie for being my model here.

Skyclad Meditation in May

My first outdoor meditation in Canada for 2017

It was sunny and calm this morning. The temperature was at 10 degrees Celsius as I returned to my corner in the garden that receives first morning light for meditation, the first time to meditate nude outdoors. I almost always meditate nude, but usually in the colder weather I find myself meditating nude in my office with a small electric heater to keep me warm. The office is the coolest room in the house for some reason and we typically keep the house at 18 Celsius. When I meditate clothed, it is because I am in a situation where privacy is sketchy, for example trying to meditate outdoors while at a textile campground with neighbours too close for comfort.

The corner garden in front of our house.

Even thought the temperature was significantly lower outdoors, the direct sunshine with no wind made it feel infinitely warmer.

Later this morning I will be spreading wood-chip mulch on our front garden. Since the front is wide open to passing foot and vehicle traffic, I will be required to wear clothing. Regardless, it will be worth it as the front garden is turning out to be something that I am proud to have designed.

A Blustery Day on the Prairies

A good excuse to sit in my office and write – It’s a blustery morning with rain, cold, and strong winds.

It is a rainy day, light rain that has arrived at the right time, since I finished mowing the lawns just yesterday afternoon. The downside is that at 4 C., and with strong winds continuing to blow with extra energy, it has become an indoor day. My time to be nude is going to be a lot less today as family arrives early in the afternoon for the beginning of our Easter gathering. Some of our family won’t be coming as there is a blizzard going on in northern and central Alberta where they live. Thankfully, there is no snow in the forecast for the southern half of Saskatchewan where we live.

Besides writing, the time has been spent with sous-chef preparations for this evening’s meal, the part where I cut up vegetables to be used in Taco salads and Taco wraps. There isn’t much time for philosophical musing, or delving into the wonders of the human psyche. When the spare moments arrive, we will promptly engage our guests in some sort of social activity or other, likely card games or board games. The traditional round of street hockey and game of cricket will be delayed until our next gathering at the end of June – weather delay.

Happy Easter! – Joyeuses Pâques! – Felices Pascuas!

Psychological Fear of Being Naked in the Light

The world goes colourless when there is not enough light.

Today’s photo was taken yesterday when the sky was overcast which allowed only a low level of light to reach these northern prairies in Canada. One of the things I noticed when going over my photos, including this one, was the fact of muted colours. The rich bronze colour I am used to seeing was not there. If anything, the world looked anaemic. Of course, this gave me the only excuse I needed to write up this blog, a follow-up to the last post, chasing away the light.

I took the photo while taking a break from doing my taxes for 2016. And yes, I did my taxes while clothing free. Doing taxes is a depressing activity regardless if one ends up paying more taxes or getting a refund, at least as far as I am concerned. It felt like I was digging in the shadows, searching for buried – well, I can’t really call it buried treasure – for buried numbers. Like most who do their own taxes, I had papers strewn all over the office in scattered piles that I hoped would provide the needed numbers. In the end, the taxes got done and I was worn out in spite of the fact that I managed to squeak out a small refund from the government. A depressive fog had settled in while I hid in my office from the tiny bit of light that was outside.

With the lack of sunshine, there is a significant change in our energy levels, in our libido. For some, it is more serious than for others. This is especially noticeable in northern climes where the number of daylight hours is at its lowest point. In Canada, we talk about the phenomena as “cabin fever.” In medical terms it is called “Seasonal Affective Disorder – S.A.D.” But of course, not everyone is affected the same. For some, the winter is a time when energy blossoms. These are the people who need to hide from the sun during the summer. But for the rest, and majority of the human population, light equals energy – energy equals libido.

So, why do most of us continue to hide from the sun? We use sunscreen lotions and sprays [yes, I know, there is the fear of skin cancer] for protection. The more worried we are about cancer, the higher the Sun Protection Factor [SPF] we use. We even resort to buying clothing based on the SPF of the fabric. We don’t critically evaluate our real needs for protection, needs that change based on our adaptations to being in the sunshine. We base our decisions on fear that has been induced by the manufacturers of sunscreen products. We ignore the basic truth that these manufacturers are in it for profit, not for our basic human welfare. We base our decisions on the illusions fed to us by the clothing industry that echoes the petrochemical industry with their sunscreen products. We make our choices to hide from the sun out of fear.

It’s as simple as that. We are afraid of stepping out of the shadows – psychologically afraid.

There's Darkness in the Sunshine

There's Darkness in the Sunshine

There’s Darkness in the Sunshine

There’s Darkness in the Sunshine – Okay, so how does that work? I am hoping the image helps with the idea. Basically, we get caught up in the light, in the sunshine whenever it puts in an appearance, that we forget that there is a dark shadow hanging around just out of our attention. In the image, there is sunshine and warmth, plenty warm enough to go outside without the need for clothing. Yet, here I am, still inside, in the shadows.

I am back in a location I have spent the past four winters, the same artist’s studio just three short blocks from the Caribbean Sea on the Mayan Riviera; just a kilometre away from a naturist friendly beach by the Desires Pearl Resort. Ten days into this fifth year, it all seems to be changing on me. Yet, little has really changed. I am left to accept the fact that I am the one changing. But of course, that is only part of the story.

What has basically changed is the feeling of permission that I get from myself and my significant other. What lays behind this shifting of permissions is perhaps simply the fact that we are both getting older. I don’t want to disturb her, and she doesn’t want to disturb the world around us. We are both feeling vulnerable in our own unique ways. The slightest sound that might indicate that another person just might somehow look in and see me nude, has my wife on edge. Her on edge has me rush to cover up so that she can have a better sense of safety. Though our landlady has officially accepted my nudity and given her permission a number of times over the past years, the assumption that she has only done so under the duress of having to find someone else to live here. I hear about how our landlady is extremely uncomfortable with my nudity whenever she stumbles upon it on rare occasions. As a result, this safe container that is our private part of the property has ceased to be safe for either of us.

Adding to the dilemma is that the landlady wants to open a business in the front part of her house and use the studio as part of her own living quarters next year. We’ve been given notice that the place won’t be on the market next winter for us to rent. The business has already begun to operate following the landlady’s departure from her former place of employment. So, we have begun looking at alternatives for next winter and soon found two very good choices, two very different choices. I found one that we had both looked at for the past two years, a place we were familiar with as friends had stayed on the property. She found a different property. One has privacy spaces outdoors, the other doesn’t. As we debate the pros and cons of both places it appears that the higher cost for her choice doesn’t seem to matter as it is the “best” choice.

So why do I concede so quickly? The truth is that if she is uncomfortable, on edge, worried or any other descriptor that holds a negative weight, the chances of enjoying winters in Mexico becomes quickly reduced to a very low number. Choices. Choices have consequences. Do I settle for a choice that leaves me in the shadows, on the fringes of depression, or do I choose to lose even more?

Navigating Plot Twists in a Novel

Thinking time as the novel gets more complicated with new twists.

Thinking time as the novel gets more complicated with new twists.

The novel is approaching 40,000 words and is nearing the end of one major thread in the plot. Before today is over, I will be shifting the setting to a different European location leaving the Camino Portuguese behind as the trio of protagonists complete their pilgrimage to Santiago.

Due to the complications that arose during the pilgrimage, they must remain in Europe to resolve those problems before they return home to North America. And since I write as though guided by an inner voice, at times like this, I need to step outside the novel to make sure that the next steps are logical and fit with what has happened in the story.

It’s morning, not long after sunrise as I take this break from the novel while waiting for coffee to be ready, coffee I made earlier while it was still dark outside that now needs to be reheated in the microwave oven. I have been awake for almost five hours and will be working on the book for another eight hours before it will be time for me to again interact with other humans. We’ll see where the rest of today takes me in the novel.