Tag Archives: painting

The Spot Writers – “Hungering for a Nude” by Cathy MacKenzie

Welcome to the Spot Writers. This month’s prompt is “hunger” (the hunger does not have to be literal).

Today’s post comes from Cathy MacKenzie, who is diligently finalizing her novel WOLVES DON’T KNOCK. Coming soon! (No, it’s not about werewolves and vampires!)


“Hungering for a Nude” by Cathy MacKenzie

About ten years ago, when I was taking art lessons in Mexico, Dimitar, the instructor, asked if he could paint me—nude!

Immediately, I’d been aghast. The dirty old man! But I gave him leeway; he was in his eighties, after all.

But he had to be joking. Who would ask to paint me, a fifty-plus-year-old woman? And what fifty-year-old flabby female (like me) would agree?

He was serious!

Hmm… What would posing for a painting entail? Would I have to pay him for the privilege? Would he pay me for my time (and embarrassment)? I would want the painting (good or bad), but would he keep it?

I had shaken my head—literally. Silliness to even contemplate such an idea. “No!”

I took painting lessons from Dimitar for several years while wintering in Mexico, managing to produce several “masterpieces,” mostly of my grandchildren (so, of course they’re works of art!). One day he chastised me: “I suspect you used a ruler,” words I’ll never forget. I kept the ruler hidden behind my pastel paper or on my lap under a paint rag, confident he’d never see it. I enjoyed painting but needed the basic image first, and for that I used a ruler, measuring wee eyes and noses and lips and then doubling, tripling, or quadrupling them onto paper.

We didn’t go to Mexico in 2013, and when we returned the following winter I discovered Dimitar had died in February of 2013, at ninety-three. I was saddened. He truly was one of the old masters, and the art world would be darker without him. He’d also been a magnificent teacher; he taught me, and I don’t have a smidgen of talent.

We are back in Mexico this winter, and Hubby doesn’t waste time nattering that I should have accepted Dimitar’s offer.

“You lost your only chance,” he says.

I had for sure. “I know,” I reply.

“We could have had a painting of you by a real master.”

“Yeah, but I’m not sure I could have posed naked.”

“Your private areas would have been covered. He would have painted them from his imagination.”

“Oh, really?”

“You’ll never look as good as you looked back then.”

Another non-compliment. But Hubby is right. Even though I looked gross back then, I look grosser today; most of us don’t improve with age. But I continued to waver whether Dimitar had been serious, not that it matters now.

Hubby continues to drone on about the lost opportunity.

I glance in the mirror and sigh, regretting my decision back then. “Yeah, I wish I had.”

(RIP Dimitar Krustev. I miss you.)


The Spot Writers—Our Members:

Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/blog/

Catherine A. MacKenzie: https://writingwicket.wordpress.com/wicker-chitter/

Millicent Hughes: https://www.danburyonfire.com/








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“I Suspect You’ve Used a Ruler”

I feel an unexpected loss. I equated Dimitar Krustev with Ajijic and winter, for when Hubby and I were there, I took art lessons from him. Granted, Hubby and I didn’t come here last winter, nor did I paint the previous winter (although I had stopped in to visit him),  but I still thought of him. And, despite me not continuing with art when I was back home in Nova Scotia, I toyed with the idea of resuming lessons this season.

A week ago, out of the blue, a friend said, “You did know Dimitar died?”

“What?” No, I hadn’t. I was stunned.

I shouldn’t have been totally surprised; he was 93, after all. I had been meaning to ask that particular individual, one of his prior students, if he had run into him, but I kept forgetting. Perhaps I knew, deep inside.

I’m still upset, still shocked. Still feel a loss.

I wish I could have said goodbye. I wish I had taken more lessons from him; I wish I still could. He was an excellent teacher, and I learned a lot from him.

“I suspect you’ve used a ruler.” I’ll never forget those words and how embarrassed I had been. I couldn’t draw, still can’t, but I can paint okay. My rationale, once I realized I couldn’t draw (for doesn’t that take skill one is born with?), was that I was in Dimitar’s studio for painting lessons, not drawing lessons. Rather than waste precious time drawing during classes, I’d do my drawings at home. From a 4×6 photograph, I’d transfer that image to a large sheet of pastel paper with the use of a ruler. One inch on the photo could equal four inches on the paper. No, I didn’t graph it out, that would be cheating. A ruler was simply my crutch to get the outline to paper—to ensure my measurements were accurate—but I couldn’t let on to Dimitar, of course. He had said early on in lessons that no rulers were to be used.

I carried a ruler—or two—in my bag of art supplies when I went to his studio, ‘cause who knew when one might snap or be misplaced. He had seen them on occasion, for one couldn’t sneak anything by him, but never mentioned them. Sometimes I even used one in class, when I needed to, but always when his back was turned.

So, my drawings were always complete when I showed up for class. (You’d think he’d have clued in to that early on!) And, despite “cheating,” they weren’t always to scale, as he’d point out on occasion. One day, after he had chastised me about my drawing being out-of-whack, even though I had thought it to be perfect (I saw the flaws once he pointed them out), he blurted, “I suspect you’ve used a ruler,” and walked away in a huff.

Dimitar was old-school. You didn’t draw or paint with aids, but, despite him profusely praising my “talents,” he didn’t understand I had none. I couldn’t draw, yet I wanted desperately to paint my grandchildren’s portraits, and I could only draw their gorgeous faces by using a ruler. That was in 2008. Today I have several portraits of each of them, not to mention other various images. Thanks to a ruler. And Dimitar.

RIP Dimitar Krusev, 1920-2013



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