After getting laid off from her job as a sommelier at a Manhattan restaurant as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, Greenpoint resident Amanda Geller turned to her paint brush set and began working on a series of nude paintings of her friends.
“It started out as a joke when I asked my friends in a group chat if they wanted to ‘send me their nudes’ for me to paint,” Geller said. “Now after five days I have had around 30 people send their pictures — some that I don’t even know.”
Prior to mass social distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses, Geller attended weekly figure drawing classes in the neighborhood. “I have received a lot of awesome feedback so far and have had the amazing opportunity to paint women of so many different body types,” she said, adding that she extends the invitation to the greater Greenpoint area.
Many of the women she has painted also work in the hospitality industry and have recently been laid off. “After the quarantine is over I plan to launch an online gallery showing and donate a portion of the proceeds to women in hospitality who have lost work due to the shutdown,” Geller said.
“Mostly the project is something fun during these crazy times that celebrates women and all types of beauty. A woman takes a nude when she is feeling sexy and fucking awesome and I love capturing that in a piece of art that they can show off and feel good about themselves.”
Read more of Greenpointers’ interview with the sommelier-turned-painter:
Greenpointers: Do you live in Greenpoint?
Yes! I’ve lived here for 3 years.
What is your background/experience with art?
Art-making has been part of my life since I was about six, when my mother enrolled me and my sisters in a Saturday painting class. After that, I sought out every art class I could, just short of making it my major in College. Painting has always been my way to calm down and center myself.
For the past few years I’ve been pursuing a career as a Sommelier. With hectic restaurant hours, time to dedicate to painting has been harder to come by and therefore even more precious. Now that COVID-19 has put me and thousands of other NYC restaurant professionals out of work indefinitely, I thought — what better time than now to give my painting the focus and energy I couldn’t before?
How did the project of painting nude images of women begin?
I first started focusing on the figure in my art after taking a figure drawing class in high school. Since moving to Greenpoint, I either attend local figure drawing classes ( at Eckford St. Studio) or paint myself in the mirror at home. When COVID-19 shut down group activity, I half-joking asked the women in my group chat (all of whom are also in hospitality) to send me nudes so I could occupy my time and continue painting new subjects. I was amazed when almost all of them agreed and either sent me pics from their stash or took them à la minute. Within two days I received pictures from a dozen friends and friends-of-friends — and the number continues to increase. Honestly, it’s so awesome that these women trust me and are so excited about this project.
What is the feedback that you’re receiving from the subjects?
So far it’s great! I have been dedicating 4-5 hours a day to this project, with pieces ranging from quick watercolor sketches to larger and more elaborate pieces. I ask everyone if they want to be tagged and most are like “hell yeah!” Women take nudes when we’re feeling sexy and powerful so I think these women are excited to have these moments celebrated and shared