Menagerie Mondays: Naked

Posted on: July 1st, 2013 by

The post is already written; all that’s missing is artwork. Shown here is a first draft of a nude that will complement that post. This is one of the models whom I sketched with pencil in art class years ago. Now I’m trying to bring her to life — to convey what I want to say — with oil paints.


Ironically, before cancer, I had no interest in drawing or painting the human form. In fact, I shied away from these types of paintings.

It wasn’t until after cancer hit me that I became fascinated with this genre of artwork. Art has helped me recover from cancer trauma, and for a time, drawing nude women helped me cope and come to terms with my own body-image issues. There did come a point, though, where sketching nude figures became too much for me to handle. And I walked — or rather — ran away from figure-drawing class and never returned. Luckily, in my collection, I have quite a number of sketches I can convert to paintings.

And for this painting, I plan to translate the sketch of an innocuous, relaxed pose to reflect the devastation of a cancer diagnosis.

Nudes now appeal so much to me because when one is diagnosed with breast cancer, or any disease come to think of it, one is naked. “Ordinary” life is stripped away and replaced by sheer, raw vulnerability. In particular, breast cancer lends itself to introspection about body image issues. Clothes are just the outer trappings that cover up our disfigurements and our vulnerability. When I’m dressed, I look like everyone else, but the physical and emotional scars reveal themselves when clothes are stripped away.

And, to me, that is the purpose of these nudes: to strip away the outer trappings and get at the core of our vulnerability.

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2 Responses to Menagerie Mondays: Naked

  1. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    “When I’m dressed, I look like everyone else, but the physical and emotional scars reveal themselves when clothes are stripped away.” That is really powerful, Beth. Some day I’d like to use that for the basis of a post. There’s so much wrapped up in that statement. Since I’m no artist, I’ll have to stick with words! I look forward to seeing this painting when you get it finished and if you decide to share it. I hope you do!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Nancy, thank you for your comment; I so appreciate it. That statement is post-worthy for sure. It seems that I could write volumes on this topic alone.

      You are an artist: an artist of words!

      I will be sharing this when it is finished. I’ll probably share some more drafts, too. This is the first time I am sharing a draft of a painting.

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