Painting naked and other fears

My Husband and Me – Mixed Media on Canvas Paper – 11 x 14″ – ©2020 Louise Gallagher


Yesterday, I spent hours giggling and laughing as I dived into creative expression, drawing and painting and adding whimsical touches to what I’m calling a ‘Self-Portrait’ of C.C. and me. He’s the taller one. 🙂

What I didn’t do was what Eric Maisel, Ph.D. suggests in his book, Fearless Creating – A Step-by-Step Guide to Starting and Completing Your Work of Art — paint naked.

Georgia O’Keefe did it. Chagall. Victor Hugo – they all worked naked. According to Maisel, it’s the path to unleashing the wildness within. He writes in Fearless Creating:

The wildness has many faces. It is an amalgam of passion, vitality, rebelliousness, nonconformity, freedom from inhibitions.  Think of this wildness as “working naked.”

The thought of working naked makes my heart beat fast… with fear.

I get what he’s suggesting. I’m just not there. Yet.

It’s a fascinating and tantalizing idea. I can understand its premise and how it could free me up to ‘the wildness’ – that place within where my aliveness is made manifest with purpose and calmness. “A wild person with a calm mind can make anything,” writes Maisel. “A hushed, wild person is a god, a marvelous actor, a marvelous cellist, a marvelous writer, a marvelous sculptor. Creators are hushed wild people.”

I want to be a hushed ‘wild-one’. I yearn to live from the wildness within me, to set myself free of living by norms that tame my self-expression and do not invite me to run with scissors in my hands into the fires of life calling my heart to run wild and free.

And I hesitate to paint naked.

I also recognize that in my hesitation I am making visible the strings that keep me tied to living my life ‘by the rules’, not taking risks with my art-making, and not being 100% committed to my creative expressions.

Ridding myself of my inhibitions, curbing my need to ‘fit in’, to not rock the boat has been a life-long process of undoing lessons learned as a child and cemented on the road to adulthood on how the world works best — i.e., Don’t rock the boat. Be a good girl. Don’t speak up unless asked. Do what you’re told. Quieten down. Follow the rules…

Yesterday, I painted a whimsical self-portrait — just for the fun of it.

I may have kept my clothes on but I did let myself off the hook of worrying about making ‘good art’ and fed my soul with colour and whimsy.

It was a day of pure delight, my senses flowing with the muse and my heart leaping with joy as I let myself get swept away in creative expression.

Yesterday, I painted.

Maybe one day, I’ll be free enough to paint naked, or at least, as Maisel suggests, do what feels hard to do. Start with doing the dishes naked and work from there.

Perhaps it’s time to put blinds on the glass doors of my studio…


27 thoughts on “Painting naked and other fears

  1. Like you live on the edge of the city on a busy road right? Painting naked when someone could potentially drive up or walk up would feel weird. Not freeing at all, IMO, because I’d be worried about someone seeing in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL — so true — thought… we live on a cul-de-sac, my studio doors face the river, are blocked by trees and a fence and there’s no road in front of me — in the summer, I’m totally enclosed in the trees… however, I’d still want blinds on my studio doors which lead to the patio from our walkout basement 🙂

      Maisel writes about that fear of someone seeing in — if I could create a space where no one could see in… challenge is… I’d probably still feel my inhibitions! 🙂


  2. Pingback: Painting naked and other fears – Poetic Justice

  3. LG … I did a speech a few years ago involving nudity – I was dressed in an overcoat only … and at one point I called for a show of hands, of how many people did their vacuuming naked. I was amazed at how many admitted to that.

    Sometimes I write naked – especially when I get restless in the middle of the night, but since then I have always vacuumed naked. It is a good idea to close the blinds …


    Liked by 1 person

    • I know the feeling! I even worried my daughters would read this post and think, Oh Mom! Really? 🙂 And then I think…. Yes. Oh Really! 🙂 Perhaps it is those very inhibitions we deserve to shake off, shake out so we can shake our lives up!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can tell you from experience, Louise, that there is a certain kind of wildness to it. My first time, I started my day normally. Had a shower and got dressed and ready for the day. It was a sad moment as I looked in the mirror and realized that this clothing was an illusion to hide and even correct those things I felt was wrong with my body.

    But then I heard my inner voice. She was screaming at me to take all that clothing off and dance in the nude! Celebrate my body!

    I decided perhaps a little striptease to give me a reason for removing my clothing. So I put on some of my favourite tunes from the ’60s and let those articles of clothing fly and land where they may!

    I felt reckless! And even a little wicked! Like I was going against all I learned that was supposedly decent for a Lady. Hide that imperfection! Hide those wrinkles and folds! Wear the right clothing to make my breasts larger, my hips smaller, my shoulders more square and my waist more hourglass-like. I thought I had it all right. A more perfect vision in the mirror…but only if I believed in the illusion of my clothing.

    I danced into the bathroom and removed my makeup. I messed up my hair. I danced into the kitchen and made breakfast – no bacon of course! I danced everywhere in my place and sang with the oldies! In the nude! With the curtains open! (oops!) I gave in to my wildness!

    I let my belly jiggle, my hips shimmy my breasts sway erratically to the music. My thighs joggled and my ass cheeks shook. I could feel the sweat all over my entire body!

    I felt profound freedom in that one hour of liberation! I have never gone backwards. I no longer hide in my clothing. I feel as though I found the secret my ancestors knew as they danced around a fire under the full of the moon in their nude. Through their willingness to be vulnerable came exhilaration, vision, wisdom, answers, and an erotic and powerful connection to the creator.

    I am willing to be vulnerable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Sheryl, I sit in awe. Reading your words I felt the wildness stirring. I felt my heart pounding and someplace deep within me that voice whispering, no shouting – DO IT! Just let go and DO IT!

      Thank you for sharing your story and your beauty! I feel like I just had a warm shower of courage and light. Your vulnerability is awe-inspiring.

      Many hugs.


  5. There are a lot of thoughts on how to free ourselves from restrictive thinking and habits. I like the part of painting with whimsies. Could one have a lose flowing smock on? After all, the postman, delivery man or others knocking on the door might be slightly confused.

    Besides, the Northern climes don’t at the moment encourage naked …
    unless you crank the heating really high. 😊 .


    Liked by 1 person

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