Sensuality is defined as the expression or suggestion of physical pleasures, not specifically sexual ones. Although related to sexuality, sensuality is distinctly different from it. As the sensual person I now know myself to be, I crave things that stimulate and excite the senses, those things that invite us to savor the moment: listening to the rain; listening to romantic, classical music; eating gourmet food; drinking good wine; walking in the woods; taking long, hot baths; putting a nourishing cream on my skin; smelling coffee in the morning; feeling quality sheets against my skin... These are not sexual pleasures, but they are indeed sensuous ones. And there is a certain romance to approaching life this way.
My photography is often described as sensual, soft, romantic, feminine. Even the botanical photos I create are described in these terms. One friend, a fellow photographer, said recently that this proclivity toward sensuality is just something that comes naturally to me; there is truth in her words. When I envision a photo that I want to create, the mood I want to convey, the ambiance I desire, the point of view, the depth of field, those qualities always seem to come through.
For years I denied these parts of myself, and when they did surface, I felt the need to apologize for being too.... I'm not even sure what adjective to use... too romantic, too sensual, too sensitive. It makes some people uncomfortable. There is a rawness, an intimacy, a sense of being exposed which makes them squirm. I realize that this is their problem, and not mine, but it has taken awhile to feel confident enough to not allow that to inhibit my creative voice. The contradiction I have observed is that, while somewhat hidden or hushed, there is a general desire for a quiet, feminine sensuality. Men and women alike relate to the tenderness that is evoked by this genre of art, regardless of whether it be words or images or music.
As an aside, I have not noticed this with the French people I know. The French in general know how to savor, to indulge the senses-- with great food, fine wine, and sweet seduction. The pursuit of these needs is viewed as completely natural, with no judgment and no apologies for desiring that these needs be met.
Over the years, the more I get to know myself, the more I evolve as a person and as an artist, the more I allow these parts of myself to surface. I give voice to them now, risking the vulnerability that comes with authenticity. To make art, to write, to create in general is to plunge head-first into a sea of vulnerability. I take a deep breath and count to three before diving in. There are always people who do not like or appreciate or comprehend what we do. But when someone does understand or is touched in a profound way or is inspired by something that you've created, there is really nothing better for an artist. Art is about communication, and communication, at its essence is about connection, the giving and receiving of information. As social beings, connection is what we crave.
Art is also about expression, ultimately revealing who we are. Henry Ward Beecher said, "Every artist dips his brush into his soul and paints his own nature into his pictures." When we make authentic art, this is exactly what we do.
And so, embracing the risk, embracing the vulnerability, I create these photos and this blog post, providing little glimpses of soul for those who care (and dare) to look.
Until next time....