October 17, 2011

"[T]he naked figure in the model’s limited repertoire of poses gets kind of repetitious after a while..."

"... while all the variously clothed forms of the drawers in all their natural attitudes are endlessly fascinating. And the opportunity to draw Doug’s hairy leg is worth it all."

Have you done enough figure drawing to know this feeling? I have!

By the way, I love the use of the word "drawers" when the topic is nakedness... and the use of the word "naked" instead of the formal "nude." (I've already discussed the nude/naked distinction at some length — "at some length" seem so wrong! — here.)

18 comments:

Scott M said...

Why do really good-looking people, of either (any?) gender never pose nude for art classes? It always seems to be someone, shall we say, less than ready for prime time?

Triangle Man said...

We look forward to your series of drawings of men in shorts.

Sixty Grit said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip S. said...

Sketchy thread.

Henry said...

Long poses, with which I'm familiar from drawing classes, are especially limited.

Rodin liked to have nude models wandering around just doing stuff so he could capture the unexpected pose. He also just liked to have nude models wandering around.

Bill said...

Yes, as a matter of fact, I have done enough figure drawing, but, no, I don't know this feeling. While endless fascination can be found in the folds and drapes of clothing, I think the same is true of the human form. Not much difference in terms their ability to hold my interest.

And the correct term is 'nekid'.

WV: brazi (talk about holding my interest!)

The Pagan Temple said...

My hang-up is the use of clinical words for body parts, instead of the more obscene forms. Nothing is more of a turn-off than hearing a woman use those coldly clinical terms in the course of a romantic dalliance. Believe me, to call it a buzz-kill is not doing it justice. The one exception to this rule is I do prefer the word breasts over tits, or the meaninglessly jocular boobs, jugs, etc.

Ann Althouse said...

"I once took a sculpture class and the model was a very attractive, slim Asian woman. That was a good class."

Years ago, when I went to art school, the models were pretty interesting, but when I did life drawing in the evenings here at UW, I was disappointed by the endless parade of slim models. It was like drawing a plank. It's not as though they had some fascinating ideas for poses, and their bodies were so lacking in landmarks that it was dull. Arms of skinny people are especially boring. Torsos... every normal to fat person has an interesting torso. But skinny people? They look great for their own lives and those torsos are perfect for wearing clothes. But for drawing? Might as well draw a plank.

Ann Althouse said...

"While endless fascination can be found in the folds and drapes of clothing..."

Clothes can be pretty boring to draw too.

Unless you're choosing your own subjects, just about anything somebody else puts up for you to draw can be boring.

Scott M said...

Arms of skinny people are especially boring.

I never delved much into sketching, but I do remember the common lament that hands are the hardest to draw convincingly. I never had much of a problem with hands, but I could never get the arms to look life-like. I don't know what I would do with fat arms except go all Dali on them. Maybe some melting clocks, an elephant on stilts or two, possibly Little Debbie's snack cake...

Ann Althouse said...

And of course I realize that you can make it your job to find what is interesting about whatever it is you are told to be interested in right now.

If you took LSD, it would be easy. You'd be like Aldous Huxley, in "Doors of Perception,":

"...I looked down by chance, and went on passionately staring by choice, at my own crossed legs. Those folds in the trousers—what a labyrinth of endlessly significant complexity! And the texture of the gray flannel—how rich, how deeply, mysteriously sumptuous!"

Those folds!

"Draperies, as I had now discovered, are much more than devices for the introduction of non-representational forms into naturalistic paintings and sculptures. What the rest of us see only under the influence of mescalin, the artist is congenitally equipped to see all the time. His perception is not limited to what is biologically or socially useful. A little of the knowledge belonging to Mind at Large oozes past the reducing valve of brain and ego, into his consciousness. It is a knowledge of the intrinsic significance of every existent. For the artist as for the mescalin taker draperies are living hieroglyphs that stand in some peculiarly expressive way for the unfathomable mystery of pure being. More even than the chair, though less perhaps than those wholly supernatural flowers, the folds of my gray flannel trousers were charged with “is-ness.” To what they owed this privileged status, I cannot say. Is it, perhaps, because the forms of folded drapery are so strange and dramatic that they catch the eye and in this way force the miraculous fact of sheer existence upon the attention? Who knows? What is important is less the reason for the experience than the experience itself. Poring over Judith’s skirts, there in the World’s Biggest Drug Store, I knew that Botticelli—and not Botticelli alone, but many others too—had looked at draperies with the same transfigured and transfiguring eyes as had been mine that morning. They had seen the Istigkeit, the Allness and Infinity of folded cloth and had done their best to render it in paint or stone. Necessarily, of course, without success. For the glory and the wonder of pure existence belong to another order, beyond the power of even the highest art to express. But in Judith’s skirt I could clearly see what, if I had been a painter of genius, I might have made of my old gray flannels. Not much, heaven knows, in comparison with the reality, but enough to delight generation after generation of beholders, enough to make them understand at least a little of the true significance of what, in our pathetic imbecility, we call 'mere things' and disregard in favor of television."

Robert Cook said...

First, to answer Scott M's question: if you draw from life over a long enough period of time, you will see attractive people posing, but the fact is, most people, nude, really aren't that attractive. In my time drawing from life, I have seen some beautiful faces and bodies. What's surprising is that a woman who appears older and who has a weathered face can reveal a surprisingly firm, youthful, and attractive body once she has disrobed.

But, as has been said here, attractive bodies can become boring to draw, because there are few imperfections to make that body unique. An older or heavier model is often the most fun to draw.

My favorite poses were one minute poses, where one simply sought to capture as swiftly as one could the movement and weight of the body balanced in space against gravity.

All that said, yes, after having drawn from the nude enough, the interest and challenges encountered in drawing the clothed figure becomes more appealing.

(I drew from life at New York's Art Students League for many years...and I still can't say I'll never go back.)

Mumpsimus said...

The Naked and the Nude
Robert Graves

For me, the naked and the nude
(By lexicographers construed
As synonyms that should express
The same deficiency of dress
Or shelter) stand as wide apart
As love from lies, or truth from art.

Lovers without reproach will gaze
On bodies naked and ablaze;
The Hippocratic eye will see
In nakedness, anatomy;
And naked shines the Goddess when
She mounts her lion among men.

The nude are bold, the nude are sly
To hold each treasonable eye.
While draping by a showman's trick
Their dishabille in rhetoric,
They grin a mock-religious grin
Of scorn at those of naked skin.

The naked, therefore, who compete
Against the nude may know defeat;
Yet when they both together tread
The briary pastures of the dead,
By Gorgons with long whips pursued,
How naked go the sometime nude!

Stick - Zar dei colli rossi said...

The late Lewis Grizzard said that there were two terms: Naked - You ain't got no clothes on. Nekkid - You ain't got no clothes on & you are up to something.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUKPmKKVq1k

edutcher said...

Never having drawn any naked people, I have no opinion, but I would love the opportunity to learn.

Ha, ha.

Attractive, though, is very much a matter of personal taste. The buxom woman with the hourglass proportions might not turn on somebody like Sixty who seems to like slim and Asian.

Ann Althouse said...

"I once took a sculpture class and the model was a very attractive, slim Asian woman. That was a good class."

Years ago, when I went to art school, the models were pretty interesting, but when I did life drawing in the evenings here at UW, I was disappointed by the endless parade of slim models. It was like drawing a plank.


A subconscious Rubens?

Oligonicella said...

"Have you done enough figure drawing to know this feeling? I have!"

Been drawing/painting/sculpting for fifty-plus years.

Nope, never felt it. The human body really doesn't have a "limited repertoire of poses", only the artist.

Oligonicella said...

Ann Althouse --

"Clothes can be pretty boring to draw too."

OK. The nude person is boring to draw, the clothed person is boring to draw...

Please describe the human that isn't.

Oligonicella said...

I think the problem many 'artists' have today is they don't bother to learn their anatomy. At bare minimum, learn the skeleton and musculature. After that, you don't really need a model.

Artists who require models area really transcriptionists.