The Female Nude

In my admittedly inexpert opinion, female nudes are more challenging to draw than are male nudes. Men display more muscles, which provides a good road map. Women are softly curved, giving importance to their outlines. The slightest variation of tone within those outlines is meaningful, and can be beautiful. Perhaps it is for this reason that the female nude has been a favored painting subject throughout history. Feminists of today may take the view that female nudes were popular merely because the artists were males and the males just like to look at female nudes. I can’t dispute that, but I don’t really see anything wrong with it either. (What was and perhaps still is wrong was the squelching of artistic endeavors by women.)

I have led off with one of my last year’s nudes because it is a sweet one. Not much else to say about it, really. I don’t often get the gift of such a straightforward pose. Below is a more adventurous variation, with the same model.

Here I was enjoying the shadows cast on and by the body, which provide desirable drama. I’ll bet the sweet one would beat out the dramatic one in an auction though.

Playfulness is something you don’t often get, but here is a model that excels in that quality:

That pose lasted for only ten minutes, about as long as you can hope to get a pose with some energy in it. Even the next one below, which didn’t require any extreme twists, was probably hard on the fingers that had to grip her side so tightly.

Although I made an effort to portray her gripping deep into the fat, I did a better job portraying the back and buttocks–this is what I meant above when I suggested that the subtle tonal variations within the feminine shape were what made the female nude so beautiful. Scroll up until the hand is just out of sight and you will see what I mean. I should take scissors to this one.

Last week I mentioned losing a drawing right out of my portfolio. When I went back into that portfolio again this week, minus the urgency that had gripped me before, I found it right away. It is from my Drawing with Color class:

I do not like it as much as I remembered, so I added the black outlines where you see them. Some of the shading and coloring is nice, but I prefer it with the black outlines. My problem may be with the color of the paper–not enough contrast with the colors chosen for the figure.

During this week’s class I added a few more passable nudes, but I still believe that my SLG nudes are, on the whole, more interesting. (This has nothing to do with any input from the drawing class teacher, who pretty much leaves me alone until the end.) Here’s an exception, which sadly goes unfinished because I thought we were going to have 20 minutes for the pose and we got only ten:

I do like backs. What I particularly like about this one is how it emerges from the paper as a collection of light and shadow. The outline still reigns supreme.

Last one–my most recent nude, from the drawing class– but I left out the color. The color was becoming a distraction, I feared, so I returned to basics in an effort to produce a better example for you.

I loved the paper, contributed by the teacher–98 pounds in weight instead of the 60 I was used to. (Weight of paper is measured in pounds per 500 sheets sized 20 by 26 inches–I just had to look that up.) The charcoal seems to lie more lightly upon its laid (textured) surface, making adjustments easy, yet the paper allows intensely deep applications of blackest black as well. Who knew? I am now shopping for more of it, and not feeling at all bad about having already invested in 1,000 sheets of the 60 lb. paper since I can now use up the 60 lb. as if it were newsprint. I’ll bet the newsprint pads don’t even bother with stating weights.

I hope you enjoyed the lovely nudes, and got enough of them for a while.

This Thursday (April 14) night from 5 until 8 is Open Doors Manchester, aka Trolley Night, one of only three this year, so don’t miss it. Make two of your stops the Manchester Artists Association (MAA) Gallery 1528 Elm St (on the corner of Elm and Brook Streets) and the Framers Market at 1301 Elm Street, and look for my paintings: The Totem and Sunburst over Cathedral Ledge at MAA, and the Farmers Market at the Framers Market. For my previous discussion the Farmers Market painting, go here. (Unless you get there early, you won’t see me because Thursday is the night I have that drawing class.)

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