No Nudes Is Bad News

Revision #01 Revision #02 Revision #03

Every now and again I read a comment or have a conversation about “life-drawing,” that is drawing or painting a posing model. It’s mostly about the model posing with no clothes on. The comments range from “woo, woo” to starching complaints about exploitation and on to views on the immorality of nude representation. They are mostly from civilians. The bulk of my professional training was at the Art Students League where life drawing and painting is at the heart of the atelier style of teaching. Almost every drawing or painting course involves a model who poses for varying lengths of time, from one to twenty minutes. Many of those who find this unseemly assume that the model (they assume a female) would rouse sexual thoughts among the students (assumed to be male). It happens I am sure, even though a good percentage of the models are men and a large proportion of students are women. Or vice versa if you happen to be gay or lesbian. It also might happen despite that most models are not particularly provocative. They usually stand or sit as anyone might in an ordinary setting. A few take “classical” poses. One thing’s for sure: they ain’t trying to be sexy. Modeling for artists is a job and it’s a tough one. Try holding a pose for 20 minutes while stark naked in a drafty room. Drawing the human form teaches valuable lessons for the artist: shape, line, proportion, light, depth and anatomy. If you don’t understand that, and apparently there are some who don’t, all I can say is “grow up.” People have been the subject of art, whether representational or abstract, since the beginning. And probably before then. Personally, I like quick poses, one to five minutes. I am more interested the essentials and in spontaneity than in the details and in subjective or abstracted rather than in careful, photographic representation. The drawings of such quick poses above are based on drawings done years ago. They are done with charcoal, pastels and black and sanguine Conté stick on rough 12 x 18 inch charcoal paper. Incidentally, in all cases, there was only one model posing. I just put two or three poses on one page and used a bit of artistic legerdemain to make them a coherent whole.


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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One Response to No Nudes Is Bad News

  1. jeffhaynes says:

    Nice work. Nicely said.

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