Lately, I have found that the figures in my art are starting to speak to me and have a life of their own, just like might happen with an author. I had an interesting thing happen along these lines.
Usually, when I need to draw a male figure, I take pictures of myself in male drag. First I draw what I see in the photograph, then go on to “masculinize” myself. I flatten the chest, broaden the shoulders, narrow the hips, square the jaw, and so on. I was all set to go through this process to create a piece that eventually became The Knave of Swords seen here. I used some binding to flatten my chest under my shirt. Then I realized I needed a new reference photograph of myself without the shirt on in order to understand the position of the shoulders.
That’s when the character took on a life of its own. Then I realized I had a treasure.
So. I saved this drawing as is. I took a photo, printed the photo out and traced it onto a new piece of paper, and continued onto my cisgender male vision from there. But the butch woman remained.
To learn more, this is a totally fun video about the origin of the word "Butch" and what it means. https://www.them.us/story/inqueery-butch
From this experience, new pieces featuring butch women with binding have emerged. This one is currently called Circle Mirror, and I plan to develop this into a painting soon.
I am currently developing this one into a painting entitled The Hanged Man.
So far, I am not sure the folks who follow me on social media, where I have posted images of the drawings, have picked up on the gender of the character, or the presence of binding. I seem to be sneaking up on this new path slowly and quietly, perhaps attempting a bit of "passing" myself.
To be clear, I know that as a cisgender female in a heterosexual marriage, I will never fully understand the experiences of a non-binary, or otherwise queer person. But I also feel drawn to respect the identities of my characters, as well as celebrate the myriad orientations and identities of the people in my community and beyond.
Below, if you click on my youtube link, you can see a slideshow video of the progression of this saga, from the initial photographs to the point at which I traced the drawing to another paper.
Oh, and by the way, Happy Pride Month!
To learn a bit more about gender identity, click here.
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