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Why I Draw and Paint the Human Figure

Why I draw and paint the human figure
 
When I walked into the studio for my first figure drawing class it was with some apprehension. I knew that drawing from a live model is considered difficult. Well, I wanted to improve, didn’t I?
I had recently begun taking as many classes and workshops as I could and so I had been happy to find that it was like coming home after a great absence and meeting long lost friends.
               I was also a bit concerned that I would feel embarrassed in the presence of the nude model. What if I blushed? What if I revealed my lack of sophistication? I knew I was the product of a conservative upbringing and a society with distorted ideas concerning nudity. I was concerned my drawing skills wouldn’t be up to the task.
]              After a brief demonstration we began with short gesture drawings. Immediately I was completely engrossed in what I was doing.
               Two hours flew by. I continued studying and began attending open studios where I still continue striving to improve. 
               Why does this still hold a fascination for me?
               I had spent 25 years in the fitness industry. I was an athlete for much of my adult life. I had studied anatomy and physiology and what I learned about the human body filled me with wonder. We truly are an amazing creation.
               I have always been fascinated with the kinetic energy of the body. Our bodies are never meant to be completely still, even at rest.
               I wanted to capture this aliveness somehow. It may be why I still love the raw energy of quick poses. Even during longer poses there is never complete stillness. There is a stress and tension that shows in the face and body of the model. How could it be otherwise when my subject is a living, breathing human?
               I have learned that the human form truly is beautiful. This goes beyond mere cliché. 
I logically knew that the airbrushed images held up as an ideal in our society are false, but unfortunately it is the rare person – myself included – who is comfortable in his or her own skin. It is sad that we often see ourselves as not enough when we are so much.
               I have learned this beauty is present in the curve of the neck, the gesture of hand, the tilt of the shoulders, in countless other ways. All I have to do is really look and hopefully see. It has absolutely nothing to do with any false idea of perfection.
               There is so much conveyed not only by the face but the frame. I see pride, power and strength, grace and elegance, gentleness. There is also sadness, weakness and human frailty.
If I am fortunate, sometimes something of the individual and our shared humanity finds its way into my work.
               The psalmist expresses far better than I the most profound reason I am fascinated by the human form;
               Psalm 139:14: “I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works. My soul knows it very well.”
 : Charcoal : oil : Oil : Charcoal
 : Charcoal
~ Susan Schiffhauer


 

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