Ray Leaning Erotic Art
“BASTET” Ray Leaning Pencil, April 2005 original image size 14"x 18"
I am enchanted by the female form and fascinated by fashion. Pencil is my medium of choice. Drawing is an honest and subtle medium that demands mastery. Oil painting allows me to revel in my favourite, colour triad of black, white and red.
I was born in Lincolnshire in 1959. I did Art Foundation at Grimsby. Then, after a varied early career (as overhead crane driver.......) I returned to college as a mature student, gaining a BA (Hons) Fine Art from Exeter and a PGCE (Art & Design) from Brighton University. I am, I believe, of the last generation to have usefully squandered my student days in the life room. Sadly, art schools in this country no longer seem to teach the traditional skills of classical life drawing and painting. But then it has to be said that we live in a society that doesn’t value artists. Rich artists tend to be dead artists.
Some artists specialise in making life difficult for ourselves by choosing risqué subject matter. It’s an obsession, I admit. I’ll go on drawing and painting foxy ladies, because I can’t help myself. I have always been enchanted by the female form and fascinated by female fashion. My obsession is with gender messages and the signs & symbolism that evoke sexuality and sensuality
I don’t think of myself as a fetish artist, but I readily admit to being obsessed by fetish imagery. In a Sliding Doors moment twenty years ago I almost accepted a job as a fashion designer and my fascination for female fashion remains. We have evolved to recognise the physical differences between men and women (useful when selecting a breeding partner). Fetish clothing works by targeting and highlighting these differences. A woman has less body hair than a man; take it away completely and she becomes even ‘more’ woman. Add stockings to create a silky super-skin. Shrink-wrap her in latex and buff to a high gloss sheen to take this one step further. A woman has a narrower waist, so the constriction of a corset multiplies that gender signal. High heels rotate the hip girdle forward, thrusting the buttocks and chest out, to give a very different shape to that of a male. Subconsciously we pick up on a multitude of these signals every day: longer eyelashes; fuller lips; longer, narrower fingers or a slim neck tell us we are looking at a woman. I use these instant visual messages, these gender differences, when attempting to portray the ‘super-sexual’ woman. - or, in simpler terms, just what are the elements that make an image attractive?
Poise, Pose & Props
It’s not only the clothing that carries a message of sensuality, it’s also the pose, posture and attitude of the model that is an important part of the narrative. Whether the subject is an active dominant personality or a passive submissive, either can be hinted at by a challenging stare or downcast eyes, hands on hips or hands behind. We get an insight into that person’s sensuality and sexuality. Equipment and toys simply add to the tension and eroticism. I use the symbolism of ropes and straps, chains and collars, whips and riding crops to add to the ‘inner portraiture’ of the sitter. It’s an obsession, I admit, but I’ll go on drawing and painting sensual ladies, because it is that passion that drives the picture making.
I was a graphic designer and art director in illustrated publishing in London for many years. A first monograph of my work, MUSE, The Art of Ray Leaning,Bold text was published by EPS in 2004. I’m currently based in Ayr, Scotland. To pay the bills I design coffee table art books, classic car books, CD sleeves, posters, the Erotica show guide... One day I’d like to set free my mouse and use my computer solely as a way to communicate with other artists (and shop on ebay). Now working and living as a semi-recluse in Scotland with my main muse Carol.