Shadow Cast – the Inverted Cross Painting with Many Names
Art can have many meanings, so naming a painting can be hard if you have more than one title to choose. Shadow Cast was no different, but once I’d tried several out loud, Shadow Cast became cemented and the inverted cross became the focus and the second meaning depending on how you viewed this piece of art.
Nudity in Shadow Cast
Several of my nudes have been quite controversial. Whether that has been intentional or not, I can understand if people are taken aback by the fetish art. But Shadow Cast was never meant to be in any way explicit. When I got banned from Linkedin, Instagram and Facebook for a time for this painting, I was gobsmacked. Not only is it clearly a piece of art, I didn’t even consider it to be remotely sexual. It seems that any slight hint of sexuality is becoming more taboo, which makes me sad considering the leaps and bounds we’re making with human sexuality, gender and sex workers’ rights*. It was hardly another Queen, which I don’t consider to be crude, but you can read my blog here to find out just how provocative people found that.
Painting nudes has been a theme throughout my art career. I’ve been commissioned to work with individual women who want a boudoir piece, couples who want explicit or kinky art of themselves together, both men and women wanting gifts for their partners, and people wanting me to use particular pornographic videos as inspiration. It’s also a subject I choose to concentrate on a lot when working on my portfolio, which is my sole focus now that I’ve closed commissions. Nudity in art is rife, so I’m really unsure as to why social media takes such offence, but particularly this piece – it’s just an arse crack! I’ve seen more butt on builders!
Double Meanings of Shadow Cast and the Inverted Cross
Traditionally, the inverted cross represented the martyr, St Peter, who insisted on being crucified upside down. These days, it’s been claimed by the alternative crowd and represents anti-Christianity. Or Satanism. At the end of the day, as in every other religious symbol, it’s just a shape – the meaning attributed to it is what holds the power. Any object can become a talisman if you allow it to have that power over you.
Because there’s so much hiding beneath the surface of this nude, I found it really difficult to name her. Initially, I was going to call her Marked Woman – the latent goth in me really liked the fact that the shadow on her back was an inverted cross, so I enhanced it so that it became almost like a brand. The name seemed to miss other elements of the painting, though – the fact that she has been captured dressing or undressing. And the expression on her face, that half turned head, gives the impression that somebody has walked up behind her and she’s paused in the middle of her task, quizzical but on edge. For that reason, I nearly called her Hackles Rising. I finally settled on Shadow Cast, because I like to create layers in my work – you can see just the surface painting: a member of a shadowcast in the middle of a costume change. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with buying a piece of art just because you like it. But study it and the other obvious meaning, the shadow that has been cast on her back becomes apparent.
Inspiration for Shadow Cast
I’m the first to admit that I find a lot of my references in porn. I like to take the poses, certain elements, the light and add my own spin or change it almost completely. It’s rare when I see a still from a video or porn shoot that I can use as it is. But Shadow Cast all but fell into my lap. As well as being an artist, I’m also a designer, so I will sometimes mock pictures up in Photoshop before working on them to make sure the colours work together, or the placement of objects. Such as the flower paintings.
With the still image for Shadow Cast, I fiddled with the colour settings to create that strange half light I wanted the piece to have a surreal, other-worldly feel like a Jeunet and Caro film, so I turned up the greens and yellows to contrast with the red dress. I also enhanced the inverted cross on the model’s back, pulled the dress further up so it was less explicit and made her less… preened. As I mentioned, this piece wasn’t intended to be sexual, so I removed the model’s false eyelashes and created a shadow at the base of the buttocks to avoid shifting the focal point vagina-wards.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that there’s still a long way to go with all of this
Purchasing and Prints
The original painting, Shadow Cast, is available in my shop and you can also get your mitts on prints, merchandise and downloads. Saatchi is your best bet for luxury canvas and framed prints, whereas Redbubble absolutely nail merchandise like clothing, stationery and home decor, as well as more budget prints and greetings cards. You can also download hi-res, print ready versions of this piece from the shop and make your own prints in as many formats as you like.
The original painting is available on the website.
It’s also available in all kinds of printing formats and across all clothing and home decor products on Redbubble.
Luxury framed or canvas prints are available from Saatchi.