Beth Meadows

"love"

Thoughts on Strong Women

"folk", "hiking", "love", "men", "mountains", "simple", "single lady", "women"B1 Comment
I saw this old lady on TV a while back who lived in the mountains. Her hair was long and grey and she wore a pink nightgown. She grasped the rungs of a wooden ladder with her bony fingers to climb on top of her tin roof where she showed off apples she had laid out to dry. (The photo below is not her, but it reminded me of her.)


My dad and I went hiking last weekend in the Smokies near Wears Valley. It had been raining off and on, saturating the color of everything. When we reached the Walker Sisters Cabin, the rain stopped for a brief moment. I walked around in the silence, imagining what it would have been like to live there.


I did some reading about the Walker Sisters later. They refused to give up their home when the government began buying up land in the 1930s to form the National Park. Eventually they gave in in exchange for a lifetime lease so that they could spend the remainder of their days there.


I wonder about their lives, especially in regard to men and love. They were spinsters, but what was the reality of that? Did any of them ever fall in love or want to have children? Did any of them go on hot dates while the others stayed at home? Were they satisfied living a simple life together?

They were known for living traditionally and for possessing good character, so much so, they became a tourist attraction.

Imagine walking through the woods and seeing smoke rising from their chimney.


When I was in Namibia several years ago, I met a woman who raised Arabian Horses on a farm with her husband. She was overwhelmingly hospitable, kind, a woman full of virtue. We talked under an expanse of stars while she grilled meat from their game reserve for my friends and me. We only spent a few hours with her, but I'll never forget her for as long as I live.


I think about these women a lot, strong women living amongst nature because that's what they want. 

I imagine this kind of woman knows her worth outside of a romantic relationship, and if a man ever did come around that was worthwhile enough, she'd be the best lover of him. She would love out of fullness, not necessity.


Life can feel like it's racing by at a speed we can't keep up with, and simultaneously many women struggle with if they're doing enough, adding up enough, accepted enough.

Lately, I try to think about things, like

an old woman in a pink nightgown drying apples on her tin roof.
five sisters writing a letter to the government, refusing to give up their home.
a naturally beautiful woman leading a glossy horse by its reins.

I think about what and whom I've been given a capacity to love. What is right in front of me and am I taking care of it the best that I can?



Grow Old and Boring with Me

"dating", "film", "love", "men", "modern love", "women"B2 Comments

Yesterday, my friend Ben sent me this blog post by Lauren Wilford entitled On Ruby Sparks, Manic Pixie Dream Girls, and the Image as Prison. Read at least the beginning if you have the chance.

After sending me the link, I shared with him my disdain for Zooey Deschanel's character in The New Girl, to which Ben replied:

Yea, I hate those characters too. Or, what they have become in the last several years. I remember when Almost Famous and Garden State were two of my favorite movies. I was a young man who didn't really understand myself (let alone women), and I was infatuated with the idea of a girl who could be completely weird and uninhibited and obsessed with an awesome band -- and still be as hot as kate hudson or natalie portman. then i grew a couple of years older (and saw the movie elizabethtown) and I started really seeing through that gimmick.

But, because I am male, I am just as interested in the male characters in those movies who are so somber and calculated and introverted, who are then "saved" by their dream girl. I think that's one of the reasons why I LOVED Into The Wild so much. Because he comes across his manic pixie dream girl (who happens to be kristen stewart of twilight fame) and he says "no thanks" and continues on his larger, more important journey. and then dies. alone. while realizing that life's happiness is best shared with others.

anyways, i thought this article was interesting from a female artist's perspective. of how she sees this as just another example of men objectifying women. and thinking about the idea of men who find women to BE the adventure in life, instead of someone to live out life's adventures with. like zack braff in garden state or woody allen in annie hall. these guys will (and do, in the case of annie hall) lose their girl, one way or another.



***

My favorite movie for a long time, and maybe even still, is The Royal Tenenbaums, my favorite character being Margot Tenenbaum. I dressed up as her one year for Halloween, and I drew her and Richie in 2009.




Being an open book myself, I was mesmerized by her highly secretive life. She made me want to be more mysterious, which I decided was equal to being alluring. Why? Because of how irresistible she was to Richie Tenenbaum, even despite her extreme melancholia.

I've watched The Royal Tenenbaums so many times, I've lost count. The last time I watched it a couple of years ago, something broke inside me. Margot Tenenbaum annoyed me.

I thought, "She is so depressing. No man in his right mind would want to be with a woman like her," which is true, as Richie proves.

***

I realize I've liked, but simultaneously and secretly been annoyed by, several on-screen female characters.

Penny Lane in Almost Famous: I will always love this movie, but Penny has always bothered me. I realize it's because she's delusional and attention-starved, allowing her heart to get trampled on by a man that doesn't care for her.

Sam in Garden State: Just, are you kidding me?

Jess in The New Girl: The first time I saw this show, I felt cheated. There is no way Durmot Mulroney's character would fall for Jess, unless the only thing he cared about was how she looked.

April in Parks and Recreation: I've only seen a couple of episodes, so I may not the best judge of this, but: The dry, sarcastic, and rude April lures sweet Andy. How?


***

For reasons Lauren Wilford discusses, watching these on-screen manic pixie dream girls, or variations of them, makes women feel they lack something. This puts these characters on the same level as Victoria Secret models in regard to women's self-esteem. Whether a woman buys into the idea that she needs to be thin and sexy or more eccentric and stylish to be desired by a man, she is buying into a lie.

The subject gets me riled up because I've bought into it, too, worried I'm too boring or too disheveled, that I need to change.

But my thoughts are being transformed. I know now that my fear of passively accepting a "boring" life is actually a deep desire to be content where I am. As for what that means in a relationship, as much as I want adventure, passion, and fun, what I think about the most is a person sitting next to me while I read a book or who can be in the same room as me while I make artwork, sharing thoughts and silence interchangeably.

***

Like my friend Ben stated, as guilty as women can be for falling into a trap of wanting to be something they're not, men can just as easily believe that a woman could save them or fill the emotional gaps in their life. When a man buys into this notion, the danger is that after a few years, or even months, he will realize he was wrong and jump ship to look for another woman who might do the trick.

I read one time that people often confuse drama for adventure (I'm pretty sure Dear Abby told me that). This could explain why so many people stay in unhealthy relationships. This is also the point I missed in most of the manic pixie dream girl-themed movies- that these women usually attract men who are emotionally immature (i.e. bad partners).

As I near my 30's, I will take "boring" over drama any day of the week. Heaven help me. I must be growing up.


About the Drawings: Collaboration with Juicy (my cat)

"art", "collaboration", "dating", "drawing", "friends", "funny", "juicy", "love", "men", "simple"B2 Comments
I began 2012 wanting to collaborate more with other artists. The thing I've learned so far is how difficult it can be to make this happen because of conflicting schedules and also the hesitation to actually begin working with someone else. It's hard enough to start most projects when I'm left to my own devices, so add the dynamic of another person, and... you get the idea.


With that said, I decided to start small...


I have a shop on Etsy, where each week, they feature different shop owners who write about their products and show photos. Many times, the shops are run by a husband and wife duo (like these jerks). I find it inspiring as well as annoying because a) I don't have a husband and b) even if I did, who's to say he would be someone with whom I could collaborate.


In my dreams, I'm married to some wonderfully talented, good-looking man who would also be great at all things technological and financial. He'd also be able to take incredible pictures.

Each morning, we'd switch off making each other breakfast and then we'd go our separate ways. In the afternoon, we'd come back together and share the things we'd learned and make things together. Something like that, more or less.


As much as I might pine away for my elusive collaborating husband to be, I do not have one. However, I do have something I come home to that breathes. That's right: Juices O'Hulihan, aka Hammerpants, aka Juicy, my cat.



I have had portfolios made out of chipboard from college days stored under my bed for the past couple of years. It just so happens that chipboard, which is very much like cardboard, is one of Juicy's most favorite things to claw. Although my artwork was protected, she destroyed the chipboard out of her own personal enjoyment.


So this is what I come home to: not a handsome art-collaborating husband, but a beautiful soft and rotund cat who loves tearing cardboard to shreds. So I proposed a project to do with her which would feature her favorite mark-making technique: claw marks. She accepted.



I love drawing people, and I love drawing people that I love. I decided to make portraits of males that have held a significance in my life. Whether I love(d) them romantically or as a friend is not important. Some are still friends, some not, some I haven't seen in years, all have pushed me to be a better version of myself, whether they intended to or not.

I drew them on 11 x 14" pieces of acid free chip board and placed them under my bed, one or two at a time for a week. There, Juicy could work her magic.






 
Although it was not a malicious act, I realized it could be construed as such. Instead of denying that aspect, I decided instead to yell to Juicy from time to time, "Claw their eyes out!" Honestly, this had nothing to do with each of the individuals personally, just something to make me laugh, which it did.

I never had to prompt her to claw them; She did it of her own volition, and because she derives great joy out of the process, I enjoyed being a part of that.

Something weird is that she never did claw their eyes, and the areas she did claw seemed pretty consistent. It's all very strange and makes me curious about what's going on in that little brain of hers.



So there you have it, the first Juicy-Beth Meadows Collaboration.



Lady Mary, Matthew Crawley, and Rihanna

"dating", "film", "love", "men", "photos", "pop culture", "video", "women"BComment
If I was a teenage girl today, I'd make a Youtube video montage of Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary photos set to Rihanna's We All Want Love. I'd work on it in the wee hours of the morning, in between witty banter and repressed flirtation with my crush via instant messenger* in a dark room filled with the soft glow of my computer screen.




















* IM doesn't exist anymore, does it?