The human body is the one thing that we are all familiar with, two arms, legs, trunk, head, hands and feet, simple. But to an artist it offers endless creative possibilities. Mounds and crevices, deep shadows and tantalising highlights.From dewy, youthful bodies to old wrinkly ones with gnarly limbs. It may be our familiarity with the body that inspires.
Bodies are Beautiful
Exploring life drawing, leading to painting and sculpting is valuable, and I think essential to an artist on his path of inquiry. Following the three steps can be irresistible.
Many of the great masters have historically indulged in painting the ‘self-portrait’. Most artists have at one point painted or at least drawn a portrait of themselves. Not many have attempted to paint their bodies in the nude. To be given the opportunity of painting someone else’s body is such a thrill. Inhibitions may be lost, and creativity is given free reign!
Admirably professional studio models seem to be utterly comfortable in their skins. The model’s relaxed approach is often enough to banish any trace of bashfulness in the studio. Between poses, he/she may even wander around the room (in the nude) to have a peek at the works of art in progress. In a group or class situation when artists vie for the best spot to put up their easels to get their preferred angle or vantage point of the model competition heats up. Tempers flare, and the little gremlins may appear.
I favour painting the female body in all its forms. Younger women often have beautiful and silky skin, almost translucent at times with obvious hints of the blood vessels underneath. A simple palette will suffice, soft pinks, pearly whites and traces of green and blue. The body of an older lady tells a story and has a ‘lived in’ look.No two bodies are the same, but they are all beautiful and always a pleasure to paint.
My current tutor in portraiture and figure painting is the West Australian artist Drewfus Gates. I have lots to learn, and I have some works in progress …