It's strange, yet inspiring to me how art and the process of making it can help us live vicariously, or moreover appreciate a quality in a subject that we can't appreciate in ourselves.
I think I've been fairly emotionally removed from my pregnancy. It's probably a defense mechanism, because I know it will end in pain. Also joy, but notable amounts of pain. And here in my thirtieth week, in the dead of August heat in the South, all the discomfort refuses to be ignored any longer. I don't feel beautiful or feminine or whatever. People say "you look amazing!" or "you're carrying so beautifully", and I suppose I need to just take the damn compliment, but I can't help but feel it's unearned. "Oh, thank you, I've been parting it down the side," or "Oh, I decided to wear my belly 'up'" this season.".....I don't know what I'm doing differently from any other pregnant woman, so I don't know what to say. It's just interesting to see how people perceive you: They think you're beautiful when all you can think about is your brand new pair of cankles and how the baby seems 10 lbs heavier as the humidity climbs. I guess I should be grateful, either I have great self-confidence or am just oblivious. Lots of women feel this way from the moment puberty sets in. Whether hair, weight, freckles, lack of thigh-gap, etc, there's usually something about our appearance everyone wishes they could change.
Yet somehow, it all melts away when I'm drawing. I've always loved drawing the female figure. The curves and soft angles, lumps, bumps and all, there is something so soothing and therapeutic about the way the charcoal or pencil traces their paths. I feel like women just come in a greater variety of sizes and shapes than men do to, so the ever changing topography of the vast array of models is a constant source of delight and fascination. As I fill my page with studies of pregnant women the feeling is the same. "These women are beautiful!" I think. And somehow through the connection of observation and reverent study it's as though I feel more beautiful simply by taking part in that beauty by putting it on paper.
We're all pretty familiar with the Dove ad that had an artist draw subjects based on ways they described themselves. But I think one of the magical things about art is that it can change how the artist perceives themselves as well as their subject. How different would the world be if we took the time to draw each other?
*or draw on each other for that matter