for writers and readers….

Looking at yourself – Inspiring Art for Writers

nude with a difference

I hadn’t heard of Joan Semmel before I came across this painting and I can’t help feeling that is a failing on my part. Wikipedia tells me she is an American feminist painter, professor, and writer, best known for painting large scale, realistic nudes of her own body as seen from her perspective looking down.

I was blown away by this very different way of seeing the female body and I hope you are too. (Although I don’t think she is actually naked, there are bikini bottoms hiding within the soft folds.) I love the structure of the painting. We are close up and personal, almost able to hear the artist/model breath, but while we are captured by the shadows and contours of flesh we never lose sight of the woman’s life literally playing in front of her…

What can we get from this as writers – does it help in writing a memoir? And what about writing fiction – getting inside a character’s head, focussing on her, but never allowing the reader to lose touch with the space outside…. But perhaps most important of all, it’s a reminder of the sheer fantastic beauty of the ordinary.

You can find out more about Joan Semmel by visiting her website HERE. She was born in 1932 so is now well into her 80s…


If you enjoyed this, there’s a pretty good chance you’d also like my writing guide Back to Creative Writing School. Nearly 90 five star reviews on Amazon…just saying.
Amazon UK    Amazon US


10 comments on “Looking at yourself – Inspiring Art for Writers

  1. ann perrin
    April 21, 2017

    ‘I was blown away’ much of this para reads like poetry me! x

    • bridget whelan
      April 21, 2017

      That’s a compliment, right? Of course, that’s a compliment…. thank you Ann.

  2. robbiesinspiration
    April 22, 2017

    Very interesting post, Bridget.

  3. Kate McClelland
    April 22, 2017

    Reblogged this on Kate McClelland.

  4. Dewin Nefol
    April 22, 2017

    Hey Bridget,

    The intimacy between observed and observer is profound.

    One almost feels a sense of seamlessness existing between naked flesh and nature. Separation between the two is difficult to determine.

    There’s something within the depth of shadow beneath the left hand that pulls me deep into it. I ask myself what might be hiding there: perhaps it is the potential of the human hand itself to be a creative force for positive ends….the leg leading away towards the children playing by the sea therefore directing our thoughts towards the future and their potential also.

    Beautiful work Bridget. Thank you for sharing.

    (I came by way of Kate McClelland’s re-blog. Very pleased that I did, thank you Kate, and Bridget)

    Warmest wishes for a wonderful weekend.

    Take care

    Namaste 🙂


  5. bridget whelan
    April 22, 2017

    Thank you for contributing such a thoughtful comment. Yes, I felt the way the leg was pointing toward the children was a really interesting way of drawing the viewer in and then pushing you in a new direction. I also like the fact that the children aren’t looking back for permission, but are completely wrapped up in the business of being children – exploring learning playing. Hadn’t given the shadow on the left hand much though – clearly it deserves some attention!

    • Dewin Nefol
      April 23, 2017

      Hey Bridget,

      My pleasure to visit when entertained by your artwork. Thank you.

      Yes I can fully appreciate what you say about the children’s stance and perspective. I had not ‘seen’ that on my previous viewing and am grateful to be so guided. I sense the watchful feeling of the ‘mother-type figure’s’ guardianship ever present but relaxed, calm in knowing the children are alright, that their pleasure and happiness freely abounds, and their innocence is protected. You have rendered this beautifully.

      The shadow beneath the left hand…I wonder what thoughts it might provoke or what images/words it might inspire.

      Thank you for replying and inspiring a deeper perspective and appreciation of your excellent work.

      Namaste 🙂


      • bridget whelan
        April 24, 2017

        Yes, I get the sense of the woman being a protective force too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on April 21, 2017 by in Inspiring pictures and tagged , , , .


%d bloggers like this: