I had the privilege this weekend to view some beautiful paintings, including a striking and sensual work in pastel, by artist Kate Smith. The local gallery I visited is a feast for the senses, with a lush garden outside and eclectic décor inside, but this one piece captured my imagination.
My attention was initial drawn by the jewelry, makeup and hairstyle, so richly evocative of the Jazz Age (my favorite historically period) but it was captured by the sensuality of her expression and pose.
“Master pastellist Kate Smith has for years been famed for her depiction of fascinating women. In this captivating piece, Kate conveys the sensuality of womanhood … The soft pastel medium is skilfully blended so that the rich chocolate tones in the background meld into the soft mauves and purples of the drapes that gently flow over and caress the model’s body. The provocative placement of a long strand of pearls over the woman’s breast enhances her sensuality…” Tiffany Jones, fine Art Consultant.
Getting acquainted with the characters in my stories is always a joy to me, whether they are easy-going and likeable, or emotionally damaged. Like getting to know a new friend, sometimes one will catch me off-guard by revealing a surprising detail about themselves. This happened to me yesterday, when my current protagonist let me know she’s a naturist. I have no idea where it came from–I’ve never met a naturist before (that I know of) and haven’t ever had a reason to research the lifestyle. My only brush with naturism was in the sauna on a cruise ship that departed from Hamburg with mostly German guests…
Anyway, when Alex (a sculptor) made it clear that being naked is crucial to her creativity, I was intrigued. And when she’s offered a commission to create a sculpture in a public park (in my current work in progress), I couldn’t help but get excited. What would she do? The work promises to generate valuable publicity for her career, but will being naked beneath her overalls be enough to satisfy her muse? If her employer, workmates or the general public found out about her love of nakedness, would she be treated as a curiosity–or a pervert? And what sort of influence does being a naturist have on her sexuality?
When I thought about it, it seemed the nudist lifestyle had gone quiet lately–doubtless due to the recent social sensitivity to sexual harassment–so I did a little digging.
I had a lovely surprise today, while searching for a boring old document on my computer… I came across some photos I took on my visit to Giverny (Monet’s home from 1883 to 1926) more than 2 years ago. I don’t think I even glanced at these images when I got home, so it was like unwrapping a gift – and a beautiful reminder of my visit.
It was a gorgeous September day, the temperature was perfect (for eating icecream), the gardens blooming…
There is something magical about the light in Europe, so clear yet gentle, not like the harsh light I’m accustomed to at home in Australia (which is beautiful in its own way, especially when it is illuminating the beautiful blue skies and vibrant earth of the outback).
I thought I’d share my favourites with you. You may notice, as I have just discovered, I have a ‘thing’ for dahlias in their many forms. I always knew I had a weakness for French bees…
And of course there are the delicious stories of Monet’s women: his first wife, muse and model, Camille (below); the affair he supposedly had with his patron’s wife, Alice, who may have nursed Camille on her deathbed, and then became Monet’s second wife…
I am eternally grateful to Anaïs Nin for immortalising the essence of sensualism in her writing. “…at certain moments I remember one of his words and I suddenly feel the sensual woman flaring up, as if violently caressed. I say the word to myself, with joy. It is such a moment that my true body lives.”
Our imagination can be the most powerful aphrodisiac at our disposal. We should allow it it’s full power and feed it whenever the opportunity presents itself. While searching for beauty on the internet recently, I found the perfect definition of the way in which some of us are separated from the rest of society by our appreciation of – and reliance on – the sensual. If you are reading this, you will probably recognise yourself in the (slightly edited) description below, courtesy of Annelies A.A. Vanbelle.
The Sensualist Manifesto
For a true Sensualist the five senses are the highest gift. Experiencing sensual pleasure through savouring, sniffing, observing, listening and touching is their lifelong leitmotiv. Sensualists enjoy poking their noses in their lover’s armpits, revel in the soft slide of skin-against-skin. Sensualists never express the word ‘sex(uality)’. Sensuality however is their mantra, eroticism their adage, tickling their addiction.
For a Sensualist lust equals zest for life. No libido means no energy, no creativity, no inventivity. Lust is the catalyst of their lives. They consider love-making as a language, just as fit as any other language to penetrate the darkest regions of somebody else’s mind and soul. Their heated view on things is not restricted to the bedroom. Their entire life is covered with a veil of sensual sensation. Sensualists immediately recognise each other through the poignant, passionate look in the eyes.
Sensualists practise slow sex, analogous to slow food, which is also focused on reawakening the senses, slowly and devotedly, by serving quality and originality. Sensualists prefer desire above fulfilment, the endless scrutinizing of each others’ bodies above a quick and simple fuck. The Walhalla for a sensualist is reaching an orgasm without even touching the other. A penetrating look can do so much more than a real penetration. Sensualists invest an abundance of time in letting the longing grow fiercer and fiercer. They drift on the energy that derives from suggestion and abstention.
Sensualists dote on slow sex but this doesn’t say anything about the pace of their lovemaking. They are fond of the contrast between fast and terribly slow, between ruthless and soothing, animal and cerebral, intense and superficial, distant and intolerably intimate, between being restrained and eager, biting and kissing, sizzling and freezing. It is this entire spectrum of feelings and sensations that oscillatory cranks up their lust.
Language is the aphrodisiac par excellence for a Sensualist. Sensualists are word junkies that send each other elongated eropoetic writings. They read arousing literature to each other and poetry compilations are used to facilitate the traffic between the sheets instead of the habitual lubricant. Sensualists can be touched deeply by one well thought-out sentence and enjoy months of pleasurable old-fashioned correspondence. Tickle their brain (their most erogenous zone) and their bodies react instantly. Though sensualists are cerebral creatures, their sensual summit is situated in animal regions. The utter fulfilment lies in letting the beast go, letting it sweep away the monocracy of the mind. The ultimate objective of a Sensualist is to reach a complete symbiosis with a partner, becoming one body instead of two, no longer knowing where the self ends and the other begins.
Sensualists view lovemaking as a form of art, a skill that can be learned and honed through practise, careful observation and discussion. Every new love is a new step in the continuous perfecting of a Sensualists bedroom arts and techniques. They travel around their lover’s body, map it meticulously, know every inch of it. Sensualists are light-fingered; excel in keeping tongue, timing and rhythm.
Sensualists regard the body as one huge erogenous zone. Hands, feet, armpits and earlobes, glans penis and clitoris, nipples and breasts: they are all one and the same. Fingers intertwine and almost reach an orgasm, toes are licked as though life depends on it. A Sensualist uses the body as the primal instrument for sensual pleasure; accessories add a nice touch but are not necessary. Much more important than masks, rose petals, candles and electric devices is imagination. Sensualists prefer the suggestive power of fantasy above the brutal in-your-face of pornography.
Welcome to my dedication to all things sensual. I am a lover of beauty in all its forms and seek to capture the essence of what I admire in my writing and art: drawing, painting, photography.
This blog was inspired by a recent trip to Paris where my every sense was delighted, from the aroma of freshly baked delicacies to the unique architecture. I am now an admirer of the innate sensuality of the French and their passion for all forms of beauty: art, fashion, the human form, literature, conversation, food, wine, nature.
I hope to use this space to share my discoveries… be they images, words or both.