Lassitude and Cardboard

When I was a teenager my friends and I would use the word “blah” to describe a state of malaise. “I feel kind of blah”, we’d say. Of course adolescents are not known for their articulate and eloquent verbal expression. Now, as an educated well-read adult πŸ˜‰ I prefer a more sophisticated vocabulary. So what am I feeling the past few days? Lassitude, torpor, ennui – I love “ennui”. Great word.

With so much free time on my hands, and lovely summer weather to boot, you would think I’d be taking full advantage of my days. But I’m only taking half-advantage. No, more like a third. I just can’t seem to get my act together. Some of it can be attributed to the beast, which notoriously sucks motivation out of you like a parasitic leech. But the beast is not solely responsible for my inertia. There are other factors at play. I’m feeling physically lethargic. Not sure why. Plus, my birthday is approaching in less than two weeks and I’m not exactly thrilled about it. I’m also grappling with strong emotional feelings for a certain person in what is, let’s just say, a “complicated” situation. I’ll leave it at that.

So I’m slacking off in my exercise regimen, my blog posts, my house chores, even in phone calls and emails to friends. Oh shit. I’m a slacker! But I am making some effort. A half-hearted effort, but an effort nonetheless. The other day I attempted to sort through the tiny storage/junk room of my house. I discovered a bag of old clothes that were meant to be donated to goodwill which I completely forgot about. I also discovered two brand new, unopened packages of printer paper. Yay! Mostly I was surrounded by cardboard. Let me tell you about me and cardboard; I love cardboard. I won’t part with cardboard. I’m unable to throw out or recycle cardboard. I want it! Why? I have no clue. I keep thinking I’ll use it eventually for something. And when and if that day comes, I like knowing that my stash is there.

Toulouse-Lautrec would have done a giddy little dance over my cardboard collection. The immensely talented French artist worked often on cardboard surfaces to great effect. Now for those of you who are unaware, I should inform you that I harbor hostile feelings toward Toulouse-Lautrec over his blatant contempt for professional artist’s models. I even kicked his ass once way back when. But as much as it pains me to say, I confess that I really love his art, especially his unfinished study sketches done on cardboard. I found three great ones to share. It’s interesting that he used the cardboard surface unprimed, and worked directly on it with just oil paint thinned with turpentine. The brown tone of the unpainted areas functions as a color in the composition.

Nude Girl Putting on Her Stocking, 1894:


Woman Lying On Her Back, Both Arms Raised, 1895:


Nude Girl, 1893:


Hope everyone is doing well and enjoying the weekend. I’ll be back very soon, hopefully without the “blahs”. πŸ˜†

13 thoughts on “Lassitude and Cardboard

  1. fredh1 says:

    Slacking off? I don’t know about your house chores, etc., but when you say you’re slacking off on your blog posts, I have to question your perception. This is the third well-illustrated post you’ve put up in less than a week. That’s a pretty good pace, blahs or not!

    • artmodel says:

      Aww, thanks Fred. I won’t deny that I occasionally have perception problems πŸ˜†

      But I am correct on the house chores, trust me. I’m getting dangerously close to an Edie Beale/Grey Gardens situation!


  2. dougrogers says:

    Those things are on cardboard… oil on cardboard….. ? omigod. They aren’t desiccated and falling apart? Or was even the cardboard better in in those days?

    on cardboard? omigod…..

    Anyway, yeah, blahs. There’s too much have to do and not enough want to do.

    • artmodel says:


      Now you see why I’m saving it! Cardboard rocks!! Not that I can paint on it or anything.

      I’m just speculating that he may have used cardboard because it was cheap? I remember reading an anecdote that Lautrec would rip the cardboard off the back of his drawing pad to paint on when he had used all the paper. So I imagine that wouldn’t be archival quality.

      And I believe Munch’s “The Scream” was actually done on cardboard, but I’m not certain.

      Let’s raise a glass and toast, shall we? Here’s to banishing the blahs . . . and to CARDBOARD!!!!!!!! πŸ˜†


  3. CBrown says:

    HI Claudia,

    I’ve been feeling much the same lately … lethargic, lazy, bored, unmotivated, for a variety of vague reasons. It’s not even depression, because it actually takes energy to be depressed. I know that a good session of life drawing usually lifts my spirits, and Friday I was set to pack up my stuff and go to Spring Street Studios, but instead I just sat around my apartment and let myself feel blah. I knew I would’ve enjoyed myself, but just let myself be to inert to get on the 6 train.

    Well, today, I made myself go out and get a late lunch at my favorite BBQ restaurant, and went to a big life drawing session. Even though the models were hit-or-miss, and despite an obnoxious woman who threw my sketchbook on the floor and stole my seat when I got up for five minutes, I produced several pages of sketches that I was pleased with, felt energized and satisfied, and really thankful that I got off my ass and drew something.

    So I guess my advice to you is to think of something you know gives you pleasure, gets you motor going, gives you satisfaction, whatever, and just go do it, even if you don’t feel motivated to do it. Not something you think you “should” do, like housework (though I also tackled a couple of long put-off house projects today and was glad I did), but something you know will lift your spirits.

    • artmodel says:

      Excellent advice, CBrown. We all have our little activities and personal enjoyments that we can rely on for spirit uplift. An episode of the blahs is the perfect time to engage in them, whatever they may be. For you, life drawing is an invaluable one, and you really communicated the positive effect it has on your mood. “Energized” and “satisfied” sounds pretty great! Now if only I had been your model the results would have been off the charts πŸ˜‰

      I’m glad you pointed out the distinction between the blahs and depression. You are so right in recognizing the difference there.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments. Good to hear from you! And hopefully our blahs will pass soon. They are going around.


  4. swatch says:

    Claudia – you seem to be hard on yourself. Yes I agree with Fred.
    Your posts bring the art you illustrate to life for me. These are such beautiful pictures.
    thanks a stack


    • artmodel says:


      I am hard on myself, you’re right. I wasn’t always, though. More of a recent thing with me πŸ˜₯

      But thank you for your nice remarks about my posts/artwork. I really appreciate it!


      • swatch says:

        tonight I was in a bookshop and saw a book on Frida Kahlo for sale and thought “I don’t like her” which started a huge train of thought about why – which I won’t belabour here but there were some nice insights. And I thought about what you would say – I recall a post about her from you. And I realised how these short, carefully crafted, loving and passionate posts about your artists are bringing to life something repressed and shunned for me. And you do this so well. You have a gift.
        Its OK to be hard on yourself when you know about I suppose, and can ease out of it. The danger I know about is, being hard on yourself can become another reason to be hard on yourself.
        There are so few of us who are stable and balanced and most of those are boring (I think anyway). Life can be a really confusing journey, for me anyway. So it is good to have fellow travelers who walk alongside and say “Hey did you see that? Wasn’t that lovely?” or “now look at this… let me help you understand how beautiful it is…”
        Which is what you do – so sterkte sister – ennui comes with this territory I think.

  5. D says:

    The only thing I liked even better than cardboard when I was young was Scotch tape–and the sky was the limit if you had both! πŸ˜†

  6. Liesa says:

    Toulouse-Lautrec is one of my favourite artists! I can imagine that you were quite angry about his post, but he still had some wonderful artwork. I think Lautrec felt at home with the prostitutes because the had no shame, and they were not accepted in ‘real’ society – just like he was. Although I would freak out as well if I’d had to work my ass off as model – I really respect you for that, I wouldn’t be able to do it πŸ˜€

    Plus, the paint-on-cardboard technique is a very fun way to make something pretty. I only paint with acryl, so the cardboard kinda sucks away your paint, but after a while, you can get really beautiful results, especially when you – like Toulouse – leave some of the original material into the painting.

    If you’d like to see another nice painting of his (you probably already know it), The Clown Cha-U-Kao is also very well done.. I love the yellow in it:

    Anyhoo, thanks for you artblog – I’m reading most of your posts right now, it’s pretty interesting ^^ Thanks for sharing!

    • artmodel says:


      I don’t think I have ever seen that Lautrec piece before, The Clowness. Thanks for the sharing the link, it’s fabulous! I love the yellow too.

      Your explanation of Toulouse-Lautrec and his association with prostitutes sounds spot-on. Outsiders, or people who perceive themselves as outsiders, often band together and only feel comfortable in each others’ presence. Besides, as much as I hate to admit it, those women did make good subjects.

      I’m so glad you posted as I really enjoyed reading your comments. I hope you keep reading Museworthy and feel free to comment again!


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