I like this blog a lot.
My feelings about fashion photography are complicated. I like looking at pretty clothes, I like looking at pretty make-up, and I’m happy to see them shown off by pretty girls, or sometimes odd-looking girls, or sometimes girls who are too thin to look at very comfortably. I have a bit of trouble with the notion of a “fashion story” which seems like a bit of a lame way of jazzing up some otherwise straightforward pictures. A six-year-old can draw a picture of a clown and make up a backstory for that clown and it doesn’t make that great art. It’s too prosaic to say that fashion photography should do nothing but try to sell products but I don’t like the claims that go too far in the other direction. It doesn’t matter, of course, because a six-year-old is happy just to draw a nice picture without any kind of heavy-handed excuse for its own existence. I’m meandering now.
The sense of place in these images is amazing. Objectively speaking, I think they’re nice images and that the photographer is talented. Subjectively, these are the landscapes of my dreams! I’m a sucker for a slightly desolate countryside, a little bit mid-Wales, a little bit Iceland and a little bit of what I imagine Ireland looks like. A bit solitary, a bit rocky and a bit of grass that’s all smudgy and uneven from being nibbled at by animals. It actually works perfectly with the supposedly “fashion story” element: the girls in the pictures are perfect conduit for the emotions that are lingering in the landscape: they look brooding and a little bit melancholy but also very at home.
Much like Janis Ian in the film Mean Girls, I was called a “lesbian” by certain people in secondary school, even though I wasn’t one and although I don’t think it’s demeaning, embarrassing or bad to actually be a lesbian, it was a name that hurt because I knew those people intended it to have that effect on me. Which is to say, I also draw a lot of girls in secondary school. I still do, and I don’t think it’s why I got called a lesbian (although people did make fun of my drawings) but the combination of those two things made me annoyed about my inability to draw boys half as well.
All of which is to say, I really like these Lotje Vanderstraeten drawings. I like that they’re exaggeratedly feminine. I like the soft colours and the eyes that are half doe-ish innocence and half resentful teenager. I love the nature imagery and bare breasts and allusions to spirits and witches. I like the horns and tattoos and freckles. I think one of the things that made me nervous about my drawing habit back in school was the similarity between drawing those girls and playing with dolls. In addition to the fear of people believing something that shouldn’t have been shameful and wasn’t even true, there was a fear of people finding out the truth about my immaturity and my desire to keep playing.
These drawings aren’t doll like at all, they’re more like totems or charms, bare enough to avoid fussiness but detailed enough to be girlish.
When I started writing this post, I didn’t really have a unifying theme in mind, I just wanted to write about some blogs I liked in the hopes that it’d get me inspired to work harder on my own art stuff. But the more I thought about the things that I liked, the more it seems like two themes have emerged: femininity (sometimes manifesting as girliness) and coldness (sometimes desolation). I’m not really sure what that says about me, if anything but it’s probably just that I like themes (I already knew that).