Tag Archives: painting

The Nude in Art

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linedrawing

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.

rembrandtcopy

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.

michelangelocopy

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.

summerstudy

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.

Women and the Arts

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stephpainting

All you can do is keep on keeping on — and make art!

Neither an optimist nor a pessimist, on many matters I’m a realist, with a tendency towards hope.

Researching the women in history who have gone before me is eye-opening … but I’m also finding that it has a strange effect on me. Learning that to this very day I still make 22% less than my male counterparts, that art created by women makes up only 30% of the art represented in galleries and about 5% of the art in museums — these things make me sad, yes, but also determined. I’m finding myself looking for and focusing more on the light, the hope.

I find myself more determined to continue to make art, to teach art, to talk about art. To encourage other women, and be a champion for the cause of equality across the board. To encourage young girls, to make them see that despite the fact that they do not often see their own gender reflected back at them as they look at history, they still can. Whatever it is: Yes, you can. Across the board: Yes, you can.

I find myself moving forth in life with more energy and excitement. Because when future generations look back on this time in history, I want them to see the women running with the progress we have made. I want them to see that the women of my generation not only rose, but shined. We stood up; we stand up. I see women in my field and across the board doing this, and I celebrate them. I salute them. The grief I felt for the women of art history as I dive into their stories is turning into something else. Fuel maybe, but hope for sure!

Let’s continue the conversation on Facebook and on Instagram!