Category Archives: Art Process

The Nude in Art

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A 10-minute line drawing from a few weeks ago

I went back to school at 27, starting in photography and soon finding my place further down the hall, where the art of painting was happening.

It became clear early on — and without much thought by me — that when you study art, you have to learn to draw the undraped body. So I signed up and pretty quickly understood every challenge an artist faces is dealt with in life drawing, also called drawing the undraped model.

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A copy of a Rembrandt I did in college

The “undraped” part is important because cloth allows you to lie, to not paint an area you are struggling with. With no draping, you cannot lie. If your measurements are off, perspective is skewed;  if the light’s not right, it’s all very obvious, and this forces you to be better. So I never gave another thought to it. This is what artists do, and it’s helpful. Wow, is it ever helpful.

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Another college throwback: this one, a copy of a Michelangelo

As a student of history, the nude in art has always been present, but in studying art history, you quickly learn each time period had its own feelings and unspoken rules about how exactly this subject should be handled. For example, it has almost always been that your model could not be looking directly at you — that’s too forward, the eyes must be averted. What?

Since my education as an artist started, conversations around the nude in art have been uncomfortable for me. I want the conversation to go away because it’s a genre that is critical to the education of a artist. But it doesn’t go away. And so I will continue to talk about it.

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A study done last summer

Soon, I will be going back to Italy to study, primarily to paint and draw the undraped model. Why? Because every time I do it, I am reminded how it makes me a better artist. And as an artist, I hope never to arrive, but to always be in a state of learning and growing, to be better than I was the week before. And so, I continue my commitment to working from models, undraped. I hope you will come along with me for this learning experience. As I learn, I teach, and I hope you’ll join me on this adventure starting April 15.

For me, this subject of the nude in art is not about arguing the point; it’s about the experience of learning art. It’s just very matter of fact. Of course, it can be argued that you can learn art without this genre, and that is true, but if you’ve studied from life, you probably won’t find yourself arguing against the practice. You will most likely “get it” (though there are exception to every rule).

So what about you? What are your thoughts and feelings about the nude in art? As always, I love your thoughts and feedback. The best conversations can be found on Facebook and Instagram where you I can be found most everyday.

Philosophy in the Dark, and Other Tales from the Studio

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This past week I was in the dark, literally. I was one of thousands of Michiganders without power due to Wednesday’s wild windstorm. I felt a bit like Dorothy in Kansas.

What resulted was a break down of “Flow.” “Flow,” you ask? Yes. It’s that place when you’re in the groove, allowed to practice art in long uninterrupted hours and the art becomes a conversation you’re very present in.

I cannot tell you I have reached that place where time stands still, and there is nothing but art. I dream about that. I’m always a bit jealous when I meet someone for whom that happens. (Or perhaps better said: I’m happy for them, and remind myself it’s on my list of goals.) But I do hit a groove. And it happens most often when I have long stretches of uninterrupted time to paint. When my schedule is cleared of other “must dos”that are involved with running a business. And I was just hitting that stride with my Goddess series … when the lights went out, literally and figuratively.

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I kept painting until I grew too cold to keep going. And then the electricity stayed out for three days, so the Flow was interrupted.

I’ve been longing to get back in the studio with mounting excitement. I am so eager to get back to it this week. And I’m hoping for Flow. But I want to do more than hope. I want to prepare to get back into the groove.

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I have a theory. I’ve always thought you could control Flow a lot with your mindset. I think you can set yourself up to be so present with your work, casting away any feelings about the results. Because the minute you begin to doubt the outcome, you affect it. The key is to dismiss your inner critic, in the way that a small child beams with pride upon sharing any art project with you. They were so into process that they didn’t think of the outcome, let alone to they judge it.

And all that from a little power outage.

How about you? Are there times you reach Flow? And what helps get you there? I truly appreciate the interaction, and hope to see you on Facebook and Instagram, where you will find me most days!