The mating game


Dear Artist,

Woody Allen has been quoted as saying he went into film to meet girls. What else might an insignificant little guy do to get noticed? He might have gone into one of the other forms of art-making as well. Next to sports prowess, a man’s ability to make art is apparently found attractive by females. In the Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, under the heading “How Mate Choice Shaped Human Nature” psychologist Geoffrey Miller asserts, “There is hardly any aspect of skilled performance that has not been profoundly influenced by the exigencies of mate choice.” Adding to this spin, researcher Nicholas Humphries has speculated, “Cave art may have evolved with painting after painting being produced by fired-up young men (and possibly women) as an implicit demonstration of the artists’ potential qualities as sires and parents.” Much evidence exists for these sorts of ideas. For example, researchers have suggested that some prehistoric axes were made not for chopping things but to woo females.


James Abbott Mcneill Whistler and Salvador Dalí

If one accepts our kinship with the animal kingdom — the artistic displays of bower birds, peacocks, and others — all this seems quite plausible. Showing off may be the beginning inspiration, but when someone gets satisfaction from the activity itself — art for art’s sake — art is then taken to another level. Thus, human art may be sublimated mating. The artistically-active get attracted and caught on art and redirect their procreative energy. They may even neglect to physically breed. “Creative” and “procreative” are similar actions.

One might conclude that the exhibitionistic aspect of art-making is nothing to be shunned and is indeed part of the process. “Consummating” art includes eventual connection and seduction. A dealer or curator may be supervisor of the union. Whether an artist is a public clown, social critic, or soporific charmer, he or she can become a focus of admiration by the plainer public fowl. The jungles of art media have always been alive with strutting roosters such as Whistler, Dali and Warhol.

It seems to me that artists need to tastefully and respectfully give in to their latent exhibitionistic tendencies, no matter how vestigial. Artists who do this may be in a better position to harvest life’s wider energy. Too short to be small, life is also too sensual to be shy.

Best regards,


PS: “All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of Love,
And feed His sacred flame.” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Esoterica: And then there’s the business of how males are attracted to creative females. Waist-hip ratios and long legs be damned, artistic women give off pheromones with deadly potency. The feminine mystique manifests in the studio as well as the kitchen. What is it about a woman who quietly goes about her creative ways, her delicate hands forming both beauty and utility, her active mind ever turning to new challenges? I can hear my inbox starting to fill up right now. “Hooray, hooray, the first of May, outdoor painting starts today.”


First of May dept.
by Sandra Donohue, Robson, BC, Canada


“Wrapsody in Blue”
watercolour painting, 14 x 10 inches
by Sandra Donohue

“Hooray, Hooray, the first of May, outdoor painting starts today!” Actually I just couldn’t wait for the first of May, but it sounds like a good thing to do, so I think I’ll do just that… in the rain!

(RG note) Thanks, Sandra. And thanks to everyone who had something to say about the first of May. At the time of assembling this clickback (we usually do it in the first 24 hours after the letter comes out) we received 13 letters from people who decided to paint outdoors on May 1 (in spite of bad weather in certain areas). Another 18 noted they have already been painting outdoors so the first of May was no big deal. And then there were the more than 70 eagle-eyes who pointed out that my quote should have read “outdoor ‘something else’ starts today.” I don’t think I need to discuss why I misquoted the popular Mayday poem which is supposed to have had its beginnings with raunchy Morris dancers. On another note, one lone subscriber sent in an ” artistic personal.” Feeling a trend coming on, we’ve included it at the very bottom of this clickback.


Misguided creative energy
by Gretchen B Anderson, WI, USA

How very interesting. The theory may explain why some people use their creative energy for no other purpose than to get dates. And yet some of these are undesirable until they pick up a guitar or a paint brush. Strange how that happens. It is nasty when people use their creative sexiness to their advantage (musicians mostly in my experience) and are careless about hurting feelings. I am not painting right now. I am in 3-D classes.


Good loving is important
by Helena Tiainen, Berkeley, CA, USA


watercolor painting, 8 x 10 inches
by Helena Tiainen

I absolutely agree that sexuality, sensuality and artistic expression are intimately linked and perhaps inseparable. I myself have noticed that good loving really grounds me and feeds the fires of my creativity and productivity. But then again, lovemaking is also a form of art. And since any art is energy channeled through the mind and body of its creator, it has its creator’s imprint, almost like spiritual DNA, all over the place. I believe one can tell a lot about the artist as a person through their art in any form. And then one is either attracted to this energy or repulsed by it based on one’s own likes and dislikes. Isn’t life great? Happy Spring!


Men not attracted to creative women
by Roberta Faulhaber, Paris, France


“Touching light”
oil painting, 100 x 100 cm
by Roberta Faulhaber

In my admittedly limited experience, men are NOT attracted by women artists. Au contraire, they are jealous of them subliminally or not so subliminally and the best scenarios are being ignored or patronized. When I was studying at the Ecole des Beaux Arts de Paris back in the ’80s, the leitmotif of the professors was “Why should I waste my time with you? You’ll just go and get married and have kids.” Either that or they tried to pick me up. With the exception of two remarkable men. There were no women teachers there until the nineties. I hate to be negative, but have you read The advantages of being a woman artist a poster by the Guerilla Girls?
I have attached it for your reading pleasure! You could also peruse The Pink Glass Swan by Lucy Lippard.






Small window for boys
by Paul deMarrais, TN, USA


“Mustard Gold”
pastel painting, 29 x 24 inches
by Paul deMarrais

There is a sexual aspect to creativity. Freud is quoted as saying that the goals of the artist are “money, fame and beautiful lovers.” Certainly not bad things in themselves. The reality is that although many women might like the way you paint, they might not like YOU! Women prefer guys who make money that will provide them with long term security. Most artists will not be able to provide this financial security. For every “rooster” like Whistler there are a thousand shy fellows. What made Woody Allen poignant was his ability to lampoon himself and his faults and fantasies. Humor is the number one aphrodisiac for nerds. A funny nerd just might get lucky, as will a funny artist. Richard Pryor once said humor was rooted in pain. I bet Woody would agree with him. I believe that there is a window of opportunity when women are not being practical and actually might have romantic feelings that might attract them to the talented male. It is a small window, boys! Better to have lots of stock and cash.


‘Always wanted to marry an artist’
by Jennifer Horsley, Cherry Hill, NJ, USA

When I was in high school, I was always attracted to the artistic types. The ones every one else would have labeled as outcasts. I attributed this attraction to my being raised in a family of artists. Alas, the world is bigger than the small New Jersey town where I grew up. I didn’t marry an artist, but rather a man who is attracted to them. Awe-struck may be the better term. I have lost track of how many times a colleague or client of my husband’s has said to him, “I always wanted to marry an artist.” Who knew? I was too shy when I was young to strut my artistic stuff. It only took 20 years but now I’m working on my strut.


Attracted to sensitive boys
by Anonymous

I am in a well known art school and am terribly attracted to the most sensitive boys and even the more sensitive male instructors, so much so that sometimes it bothers me. I feel badly about this because many friends are attracted to jocks and I just don’t seem to fit in. Actually aggressive, noisy, boorish behavior and hairy chests don’t do it for me, but I am terribly impressed with the creative boys and long to hang out in their company. The best ones I think feel a nearness to me also. I am not denigrating my own creativity but we seem to be much more comfortable when we are making art together in the same room. I can’t stand spectator sports and I don’t like to go out.


Art and the chronically shy
by Barbara Callow, Brentwood Bay, BC, Canada


“Rainforest Walk”
watercolour painting
by Barbara Callow

I also believe that painting or creative arts can help the chronically shy, like me, to feel more self-confidence. By putting a painting in a show and not to be around initially to see the reaction can be easier at first then having to put yourself up for scrutiny. After a while of good responses you can now have the confidence to watch people look at your stuff and even to handle criticism. Eventually it doesn’t even hurt too much to be rejected. Without being too verbally extroverted, one can say, “Look what I can do,” and it feels great.





Where are the pheromones?
by Janeann Fessler, Troy, AL, USA

If artistic women are so attractive, why can’t I find a mate? When I go to shows, I leave my area and walk around, trying to find a single fellow artist. Where are all those artist males? I’m a single female artist “dying” to find a fellow artist. I have wished for a site for artists to date. I have tried eharmony, Sigh. Usually if a non-artist male finds out I’m an artist, then they ask, “Do you paint nudes, do you get turned on, blah blah…” Apparently they think all female artists are “easy” and then they never take me seriously as a potential mate. Sigh. Have any other female artists had this problem? What did you do about it?


Creative togetherness
by Lisa Stewart, Raleigh, NC, USA


ink painting
by Lisa Stewart

When I began dating my husband his creativity definitely captured my intrigue. On the first date, he proudly showed me around his humble home that included a workshop. Needless to say, I was impressed that this man wasn’t afraid to use a hammer… or a compound miter saw! Eager to spend more time together, the 2nd date included the Stanton Macdonald-Wright exhibit where we experienced a “simultaneous paradigm shift.” On the 3rd date, we refinished a table for an upcoming family dinner. He wasn’t afraid of my own self-propelled creativity or threatened by my independence. Together we have found an artistic format (Surtex) that allows each of us to bring out our very best concepts for companies to admire, consider, and manufacture. The months and weeks leading up to the tradeshow allow us to plan and volley new exhibit ideas and the whole process becomes exhilarating! We have 2 weeks remaining and the house and studio are just filled with our joint creative endeavors.

(RG note) Thanks, Lisa. Surtex is a Trade Fair held in New York that shows new trends, designs, and the art resources of 400 exhibitors on two floors. Exhibitors include artists, designers, studios, agents and licensing firms.


‘Alike’ is comfortable
by Cynthia Nelms-Byrne, Dubuque, IA, USA


“New friends”
oil painting
by Cynthia Nelms-Byrne

My husband’s first wife was a very talented pianist. I, his second wife, am a fine artist. He is not only proud of my accomplishments as an artist, but pleased that I am so much quieter than the first spouse. He’s a writer, so it’s a valuable thing to have a quiet, creative wife (who can occasionally serve as muse or editor, as I am also mysteriously able to read and spell). My first two husbands were a landscape architect and fireman. I find my current writer/husband to be much more of a creative stimulant than the first two. Amazingly, we seldom fight, even though we are both “artistic” types. Somehow, we aren’t temperamental. I know that opposites are supposed to attract, but I find “alike” to be so much more comfortable.


Creativity promotes vitality
by Theresa Bayer, Austin, TX, USA


watercolour painting
by Theresa Bayer

Besides making people attractive, creativity is also a veritable fountain of youth. I’ve seen my 86 year old mother get up and read at a poetry readings — the years just fall away like leaves in autumn while she’s up there giving voice to her magnificent word creations. Afterwards she gets great applause from men and women of all ages. I also know many women and men over the age of 50 who sculpt. They have acquired a certain patina of youthful attractiveness. The two-dimensional artists I run with — illustrators, painters, caricaturists — all have a wonderful sense of childlike fun mixed in with worldly wisdom. Again, many of them over 50. There is some kind of alive and beautiful glow to all these artists that shines through their eyes — especially when they’re working. It’s inspiring to be in classes and open studios with them — the energy flows from one artist to the next and we all get more creative. And youthful, and vital. How good is that?


Seduced again and again
by Julie Roberts, Coquitlam, BC, Canada


“Dancers waiting”
watercolour painting
by Julie Roberts

I vividly recall telling myself, a shy teenager, that the creative activity of expressing music and feelings through dance was much preferred to the party scene. A lapse in artistic endeavours several years later opened up my heart to a good husband and beautiful children. Then as dance returned to my life, when I answered the call to start up a dance school in a small town, that creative pleasure seduced me again. It’s just so all-consuming, as is the infatuation in the procreative situation. Imagine a dance partner who found the music and described the shape of the dance while I put the steps together to complete the choreography. What an exhilarating union that was, as well as students and parents who constantly showed appreciation for the performance experience I gave to them! With a patient husband and energy produced by the happy endeavour, I was able to juggle it all. After moving to a big city and teaching public school, I have retired and taken up painting. The same seductive pleasure of creativity is returning and I am glad of the same husband who golfs and gardens. I have the gift of time again to indulge my heart in the creative process.


Procreation and Creation
by Ann Heckel, Lambertville, NJ, USA


“Giant Gecko (Detail)”
mixed media, 16 x 20 inches
by Ann Heckel

I have no children so art is the consummation of that spark and feeding it. A funny thing happens after I’ve gotten through the “adolescence” of my art baby (you know the part when you are saying “I just don’t know what to do with you!”) then forging ahead to bring that baby to adulthood. I act just like a mother when I am growing my creation, urging it on, telling it how great it’s going to be, don’t worry about your big feet, no you don’t look like a clown, etc. When the eyes develop and it looks back at me, I have the urge to go out and buy cigars and start passing them out. Then I ask for this creature to bring me as much food as it can!


Female exhibitionism in Africa
by Achola Rosario Odido, Uganda, East Africa

Regarding exhibitionist tendencies in artists, the art movement here is undergoing a renaissance after years of war and traumatic paintings. We are just starting to come out of the shadow and try to make a name for ourselves. We live in a society where women are supposed to be seen and not heard, a kind of passive doll who only calls attention to herself to get a man and then retreats into the marriage shadows. There are few women artists here. They give up after marriage, or do not put themselves forward. As the sole female artist to market myself aggressively, I’m called a show-off, celebrity wannabee, and my personal favorite — a “Westernized Girl” (i.e. spoiled). My hard-hitting socially conscious painting style, dreadlocks and tattoos on a pretty face does not alleviate matters. But I believe the only way to put African art and consequently African artists on the map is by getting the audience to know about those who produce the work. Too many books on African art reference the work as done by an anonymous artist.


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The mating game



From: Reader — May 08, 2007

About the Mating Game – the late Erich Fromm in his book “The art of loving” described loving as a creative activity like other creative activities – and it needs constant practice and thinking about if it is to be done well. A book well worth reading for all artists.

From: Steve — May 09, 2007

I am very attracted to creative ladies, and the arty girls I know are the most interesting by far. Nothing worse than a dull unimaginative woman. You never know what to expect when a lady has imagination.








oil painting
by Chris Carter, USA


You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Micky Renders of Toronto, ON, Canada who wrote, “I was wondering if you think that a woman’s ability to make art is attractive? Men often do not want to be seen as second to a woman — or is that old fashioned?”

And also Moncy Barbour of Lynchburg, VA, USA who wrote, “An art professor once told me to stay with one woman as long as one technique in art. He also told the class not to marry an artist, which he did, and she was a delightful print-maker teacher. I plan to stay with my wife for life, as in our marriage vows. I do not deserve her as I have not come up to her expectations.”

And also Ted Duncan who wrote, “My primary reason for painting and drawing is in making marks in one manner or another — including investigating what happens on the surface and capturing visual experience. Anything else is incidental or accidental. Freud go away!”

And also Haim Mizrahi of East Hampton, NY, USA who wrote, “Painters need to try humming as an inseparable aspect of squinting. You will find treasures that, at first, will throw you off balance. But eventually you will come to an area where the casual will begin to rule and everything will be easily within a day’s work.”

And also Tiit Raid of Fall Creek, WI, USA who wrote, “Ceremonial objects have been made in the past… but really… how do ‘they’ know a prehistoric axe is made to entice females and not for chopping?… the bigger the axe, the more attractive the Neanderthal?” (RG note) Thanks, Tiit. Researchers’ conclusions were in part based on the finding that the axes had never been used.

And also Sara Genn of Soho, New York, who wrote, “They want my eggs. But my eggs are mine. And I’m colouring them.”

Artistic personal

Tall, attractive, honey-blond, almost mute HSP female, mid-fifties, late riser, likes countryside, birds, oils, watercolours, no encumbrances. WLTM male artist 50-70, non-drinking, tall charmer with car and means. Pls include examples of your work. U.K. Reply to box 1000, c/o




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