Bare naked ladies and gents

Black Female Model #01

Female Model #01

Female model #02

Female Model #12

Male Model #02

Male model #09

Rendering of the human form, especially in the nude, seems to be a big issue for some of us and for those wrapped up in political correctness in particular. In looking back at my work over the past four or five years I was amazed at how many renderings of the human form I had done. I have included six out of some 40 or 50 or so that I recently reviewed. They are mostly 18 high and 14 wide, done on a variety of archival pastel or charcoal paper with Rembrandt (hard) or Sennelier (soft) pastels. In some circles, I gather, these works would automatically classify me as a dirty old man or worse; I would be pictured as exploitive, drooling over some dainty young thing as I pretended to be artistic. In truth almost every instance, the studio models with whom I worked posed naked. But I didn’t always draw them that way. It was quite often more in keeping with what I was attempting to give them some covering and to abstract them quite a bit. Realism was never my agenda. A few were young or dainty. But, many were old, even older than me. They varied widely in terms of gender and ethnicity as well as age. Some were skinny and others were heavier, sometimes obese. Some pretty buff and others not so much. Ordinary men and women who take pride in being professional models, they included dancers, artists, service workers, construction workers and anything else that comes to mind. The idea was never to copy the model but to use him or her as a starting point for a drawing. If they were any good at being models (and most were), they worked with me and any other painter who was with me at the time, in a collaborative process. If all that seems sort of mundane and business-like, that’s actually what it is. This drawing naked people is not some sort of titillating, peep-show activity; it is about making a drawing that might engage, create tension, give someone a good laugh or make someone think. And to make it all work takes a lot of hard work, on the part of the artist and the model.

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About mmgilbert

I have been drawing and painting all my life. Now part of the “New Symbolist” movement which encompasses both Goth, fantasy and tattoo art as well as the century-old work of Odilon Redon, I focus on archetypal and mythic imagery to evoke emotional themes and to reference darker fantasies. I have an abiding interest in figurative drawing, working on paper and exploring new ways to handle traditional materials. I studied with Edward Millman, a WPA muralist; at Purchase College; and at the Art Students League in New York.
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