November 19:  The Bedroom is a good place for Joy

And cuddles and cool art.  Those are Ted Harrison-ish paintings in the background. I have given Bumble several influences from northern artists, both Inuit and other Canadian artists. Harrison is one of the most well known Yukon artists. I will make another post introducing you to Ted Harrison!  His work is stunning, and my amateur attempts at his color selection reveal the mastery he had of color templates. Just trying to “create” my own Harrison helped me realize how DIFFICULT it was to choose his colors and make them work so well for him.  He used very pure colors, very pastel. I have painted the paintings in the background of the first picture with gouache to give them a painting feel–and the rest of the painting is watercolor and ink.  

Okay, now that I’ve distracted you with talks of ART—the elephant in the room: Joy.  Of course if we are in love with the person we share the bedroom with, there are lovely moments of cuddling that give each other Joy.  I tried to be tasteful but still include this part of “living” in the bedroom.   I wanted to know what the bedroom looked like.  I had not imagined it yet… I needed to get a good idea of what a 10 foot long bed that can hold the weight of an Abominable Snowmonster might be like!

I had painted another painting of Yukon and Bumble singing in the room for a future painting, but the room looked like a hotel room–spare and bland– and I was not happy with it.  How would an artist decorate their room?  With paintings—either their own or others.  I can imagine Ted Harrison painting this for Bumble… I think he’d like that.  (Right, Ted?) But this could also be Bumble painting in Harrison’s style.  

SEX AND THE ARTIST (or Why is Yukon so Naked and Sexual?)

So, sex. As a person who didn’t know they were gay until they were 34, and who had been clinging tightly to notions of purity and virginity according to Christianity– no sex before marriage, no experimentation, no looking at images, no fantasies–because we have to keep the version of God we’ve imagined happy, I neither had desires that I could recognize, nor had I ever experimented. So, when I figured out I was gay, it was a rush of sexual feelings that I had not even noticed— there was a lot of Joy in just recognizing that I wasn’t broken, as I had imagined I was.  I still had a lot of unpacking of my moral restrictions and faith to do–so my experience was limited and remained pretty limited for years. The car wanted to go places for which I didn’t have a map.  And because I never saw myself as a sexual person, not only was everything new and simultaneously confusing, it was joyful because This Was Me, part of me I didn’t know was there. (Oddly enough, guys were often turned off by my sheer glee and joy— “like, dude, it’s just sex.”  Like–okay, but it’s also “just a glass of water” to someone who has been thirsty and not known it for twenty years. Every time I could hold someone –for me– felt like Christmas. )

I think my background with sexuality plays into my art choices—why Yukon is naked so much, why I feel like being more sex positive (even as the old evangelical part of me is Shamed and Embarrassed and Scared to talk about it or depict it–even right now–as I use a confessional essay format to unpack my fear of just drawing two people having sex), and why sexuality plays a role in the stories (albeit a small role, but because he’s gay it SEEMS like more). This is me trying to understand part of me, exploring something through art and fiction.  

I was never comfortable in my body.  I was super thin for thirty years and with my “broken” sexuality, I felt ugly and undesirable and wanted to keep myself hidden in large clothes.  Only since 2018 have I started to get used to my body–through photography and painting in my own art studio.  You can read about that in my essay in Fat & Queer: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Bodies and Lives called “A Fat Lot of Good That Did: How an Art Studio transformed my eyes” (there are links to Amazon at the website above).   So while it seems I just like to draw naked hairy men (and I do–which is also part of the continual coming out queer people do–allowing myself to draw, in front of my friends, naked people I desire, thereby acknowledging that part of myself)–I think this is also a way to become more comfortable with myself and to learn what it means to be more comfortable with my body from this fictional person I’m “fleshing out.”

In conclusion, Sex can be part of the living we do in our bedroom–and it can be very bonding, and very joyful, and in some cases, healing.  

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