Jackie Adshead is an artist with a great interest in erotic art. We wanted to know more about her, and are convinced you will too. Her work is intriguing, very individual and beautiful. There is plenty more of it on her own website, which we’re sure you’ll want to visit once you’ve read her answers to my questions.
To start with, what is your artistic background?
I’ve spent all my life painting pictures. I’ve never stopped since I first picked up a crayon as a toddler, and I had my first commission at the age of 13 for my history teacher at school, but the artwork has changed a bit since then! So I’ve always had the talent to paint within me, but I like a challenge, and love to be creative so for that reason I am probably unusual in that I will paint any subject matter, I don’t limit myself to just painting flowers, or animals, or landscapes, or people, or to a certain style. I love to paint in watercolours, pastels, acrylics or oils, and draw in pencil or ink. And do surreal, abstract, fantasy, as well as representational art. I am a painter rather than an illustrator in that I try to catch the essence and feel of the subject rather than a totally true representation. My artwork is softer than stark reality, accentuating the good bits, and lessening the bad bits. I am different to most artists in that I prefer commissions than exhibition work as I feel I have more empathy with my clients because we’ve discussed a special piece of art that they want me to create just for them.
How long have you been involved in erotic art?
About twelve years ago I started attending life drawing classes like most artists do, and I quickly realised how difficult it is, because if you draw a tree, it doesn’t matter if the trunk is a little too wide, or if one of the branches is too long, but it does if it’s a human body, the measurements have to be right, and the arms and legs need to look like they are all connected to the body and that the head sits on the shoulders. I found it very helpful for teaching me to look properly at a subject, but after a few weeks of being at the life drawing sessions and looking at the work I’d done, I wondered how I could make it look more interesting and life-like from the stilted poses that the model was in and I realised that it’s what I was leaving out that made the picture far more interesting, as it leaves more to the imagination. I didn’t need to draw all of the body of the person infront of me, for anyone looking at it to know that they had legs, or a back, I just captured where the light touched the body and found that anyone looking at it much preferred it as their brain was filling in the parts their eyes couldn’t see and it made it erotic because of that. And it evolved from there. Plus, wonderfully, I found that I got far better feedback for my erotic art than I ever did for the landscapes!
What started your interest in erotic art?
I can never get excited looking at a painting of a vase of flowers, as all you will ever see is the flowers no matter how well they are depicted so I’ve always preferred figurative art and the interaction between people. Life drawing though wasn’t enough of a challenge for me so the reason I started doing erotic art is because it’s the most difficult art to create I think; it has soft nuances, its challenging, and what I need to capture is that certain something, the essence, that will make the viewer feel erotic when they look at it. And that is such a subtle thing to do, and is something that may be different in all of us. And the vase of flowers would look far more interesting if the petals were made up of naked women, or entwined lovers!
What inspires your erotic art?
I love the interaction between lovers of both sexes, straight, bi or gay. I love the muscular bodies of fit men, and I love drawing women, as I believe all women can look attractive regardless of their age, race, or body size. I love seeing and drawing the curves of women and agree with many people that a naked woman is the ultimate piece of art.
I love it when someone contacts me and wants me to paint their passionate desires for something or someone that makes them feel excited.
I’ve always loved the dramatic strong light and darks of Caravaggio’s work and found it immensely inspirational, and use that powerful effect in my white on black erotic drawings.
What are the most important aspects of erotic art for you?
Painting other people and making them look good and feel good about themselves and their bodies. Making people feel empowered through the paintings I’ve done of them. Capturing the essence of a person and putting it into the painting. Knowing that the art I do is therapeutic and life changing in some cases.
There’s a lot of controversy about the difference (or not) between porn and erotica. How would you differentiate between erotic art and pornographic art?
Pornographic art leaves nothing to the imagination – it’s all there in stark sexual detail.
Erotic art is the sensual, and the suggestive which is far more sexy when you wonder what is going to happen in a minute…… what has that person done beforehand to now be in that position and place and time, and what are they going to do next? Or if there is more than one person in the picture then it makes it a little easier to imagine – so just think what a whole orgy could produce!!!! But I can draw an image where the woman in it is fully clothed and make it erotic just because of the look on her face or where one hand is carefully placed.
Are there messages in the art you produce?
There is always a message in art – even if it’s only a celebration of a simple subject matter. But, other than that, I love painting secrets and incorporating them in my artwork. I’ve painted erotic landscapes when the client has asked me to paint a typical scene but with an erotic couple hidden within the painting so that people viewing it wouldn’t know unless they looked closer or had it pointed out to them. And also I was commissioned to do a painting for a woman who wanted an erotic picture to hang over her bed that her four year old son wouldn’t recognise as anything other than a landscape. She wanted me to paint an erotic landscape where the couple are actually the geography of the land. And to innocent eyes, this picture is nothing more than a view of Lands End. But to less innocent people, it is far more than that. You can see the man and the woman within the picture, and you can see that they are having sex. It is both truly erotic, and an innocent landscape, and I loved the challenge of creating it for her!
But as well as that I love hiding the subject matter within my art too – like my collection of “Fantasy Fannies”- which are erotic feminine paintings that just look like brightly colourful abstract shapes, but are actually a very intimate picture although most people looking at it wouldn’t have a clue – which makes it the ultimate conversation piece as far as I am concerned! They are portraits but not the traditional ones of the women’s faces. They are currently hanging on walls in America, and England, and a woman contacted me from New Zealand in raptures over them and the empowerment they stood for. I love the fact they are affecting women worldwide. I painted one for a woman in Canada whose young step-son described it as “the sky diving picture”, because that was what it looked like to him. I just have visions of him looking at it in a few years time and thinking “Oh, that’s not sky diving at all!!!!!”
And I like to hide secret messages within my art too – like when I was asked to do a painting for a couple from London of a particular village in Southern France that they had visited a lot, and I suggested that they might like their initials hidden within the buildings itself. They loved that idea, as it made it far more personal to them, but I knew we were going to have a problem, as did they when I mentioned it. So, I had to just put in just their initials, and not the “and” part – since otherwise it would have spelt out “M & S” or better still “S & M”!
Where do you see this type of art going in the future?
I think more and more people are plucking up courage and willing to pose for an erotic artist, and I know that people like to see what they look like through another person’s eyes, and I know I have been good therapy to some of the people who I have drawn, because they’ve told me so, with emotion in their voices. So I think it will become more main stream, although some people are still worried what their family or neighbours might think if they see an erotic picture on their wall even though we all look at erotica and love it and know others do too.
Do you have any advice for aspiring erotic artists?
Follow your passion, and try to touch people’s hearts and hope that they feel more enriched through how you depict them. Leave something to the imagination. But most importantly try to bring pleasure to people through your art.
Thank you Jackie. We look forward to seeing much more of your work.
Her website www.jackieadshead.co.uk
Her blog www.jackieadshead.co.uk/blog