Faces and Fannies – A Class on Portrait and Figure Drawing

Boy portrait

Warning – This post contains drawings of the nude figure!  If you are at all squeamish about such things, turn back now.  

About eight months ago I posted some examples of drawings I made while taking figure drawing classes.  In the post I talked about what it’s like to take such a class, i.e., that there is nothing at all sexual about it.  Recently I discovered some 18″ x 24″ notebooks from the last class I took, “Faces and Fannies”.  The class was given by children book author Marty Kelly.

I’m not great at portraiture and I enjoy figure drawing so this class was perfect for me.  It worked on a big weakness while inspiring me with my favorite type of drawing.  And I think I did some of my best drawings in this class.

The portrait of the young boy at top is perhaps my favorite.  I also like this portrait of a college senior.

woman portrait

 

When we did portraits the subject sat in one location through out and we usually did one nearly finished drawing.  With figure drawing the models did multiple poses and so I have a lot of quick sketches and a few more finished ones.  I like these two that are half way between the quick sketch and the more finished drawings I did in the class.  This is the same model as the one in the above portrait, the college senior (obviously no one under 18 could model for this part of the class).

female nude 1

female nude 2

After the last class this young lady modeled for, she looked through my notebooks and took pictures of my drawings of her.  Since she didn’t do that with any of the other students I assumed she liked them.  Obviously I was pleased.

I also continued to draw outside of class.  I found this bit of figure drawing mixed in with those from the class.  It was done from a photo, not a live model.  Because of this I had more time to finish it.  Even though it’s not from the class, it was drawn while I was in the class so I’m including it.

figure from photo

We also had a couple of male models.  Here is my favorite form that series.

male nude

I think it odd that people seem to have no issues with art based on female nudes yet recoil at male nudes.  Why is that?  Back in ancient times it was the exact opposite.  Look at ancient Greek sculpture and notice that all of the men are nude while most of the women are robed.

Modern society has weird ideas about nudity.  We have sexualized the human figure making it harder to see the real beauty of the body.  Taking an art class helps bring the eye back to the esthetics and away from the sexuality.

 

 

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48 thoughts on “Faces and Fannies – A Class on Portrait and Figure Drawing

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  3. pranita patra

    I love all the drawings..each one has a different aura.. The first unfinished sketch of the lady, I like it a lot..Its relaxed..very natural and simple…:)
    And I have always wondered why there were less nudes of men..were men not beautiful? I think its that beauty, vulnerability,strength are connected..and we have been stereotyped in our minds that we don’t see that beauty in men,we don’t see that vulnerability..:) Normally people find it weird to connect beauty with men..But personally nude art enthrals me..It has a raw artistic beauty in to it:)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Pranita! I think men have controlled art for quite a while. There are a few things – as you said, vulnerability. The men who controlled art don’t like to show men as vulnerable because they themselves are afraid to appear weak. And there is the “object of desire” some see in nudes, particularly in societies that have taboos against showing any skin. Of course the nude, male or female, is not an object of desire. I think in another comment I talked about today’s society, at least in the US, where women’s swim wear reveals almost everything while if a man is not wearing very baggy shorts that go to the knees people look at him funny and parents cover their kids eyes (not quite, but almost). This has to do 100% with male control of our esthetics. I personally enjoy nudes, male or female. And drawing them is great – when i took classes i always came out of the sessions with more energy than when I entered no matter who was modeling. There is a beauty to the human body :)

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      1. pranita patra

        That is funny, covering the child’s eyes if the man is wearing too short shorts..doesn’t happen in India, I mean if it is not the trend people do stare, but men are basically quite free to do and dress as they please. Well, it’s changing for women too though, but its a slow painful change.
        And about vulnerability, the thing is its the vulnerability that makes men beautiful, women too, because then they seem more real, human, their beauty touches hearts. I agree there is beauty to human body, and posture, the way the body is carried is an expression which art captures. Hence I like nudes too:)

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          I was joking about covering the kid’s eyes, but it sometimes seems that bad! I agree about the vulnerability, but also the trust behind that vulnerability, and the strength to allow people to see it.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      :) Well, the 22 year old athlete was the exception… The school were i took this class has a weekly free draw – a model shows up and whoever else, no instructor. I went every week for a few months and was sometimes the only one there besides the model. One model was a man in his 70s who used a flute for a prop. Another was a woman who I’m sure would make you look thin. As an artist it doesn’t make a difference. In an anatomy for artists class, yes, we need the 22 year old athlete to see all of the muscles, etc. For life drawing? Not as much.

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          You try to draw what you see and not think about it in those terms. In ways it’s more difficult with the attractive model, but even there once you start drawing it’s just the shapes and lines.

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  5. Master of Something Yet

    People recoil from male nudes because, quite frankly, male genitalia is God’s ugliest creation. Believe me, I know. :D
    These are great, Trent. I can’t draw from real life to save myself.
    PS Fanny has a different meaning in Oz. I’m not sure you’d get away with a post title like that here without it being X rated. ;)

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks! OK, I’ll take your word on the ugliness of male genitalia ;) I have heard that sometimes Americans have embarrassed themselves in OZ and I think in the UK not realizing there was another meaning. It’s so funny because here there is not “cleaner” way to refer to a human’s posterior than to call it a “Fanny”. On the other hand, I’m sure some in this country would consider some of the drawings X-Rated!

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  6. lifeconfusions

    I like the first one and second last. You have done a great job Trent. Man you’ve got some serious talent, you can draw, you can play music, you can write…and you are kind of a scientist too (If I’m not wrong) :D

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks Zee, those tow are my favorites too. And thanks about the talent stuff :*) I’m really into science and majored in Mathematics when I was in school but work in computers currently as a software developer. I try to be a modern Renaissance man, not sure how well I succeed.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks! Yes, given the subject there are a lot of opinions ; ) The pose you like is a classic pose. She is supposed to be holding some sort of pot or something, but wasn’t in the photo I used as a source. It is great pose and this is one my my favorite drawings I’ve done.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks! By the time I drew that she had been in a few classes so i was a little more familiar with her. And as i said, this was half way between a super fast gesture drawing and finished one, so I took my time to draw the lines but did them without worrying as much about fine detail.

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    1. trentpmcd Post author

      Thanks. I know, I just happened to be in the wrong spot! Sometimes with a dozen people in the room… Notice I did more detail of his upper body and lower legs than mid section… ;)

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          Yep:) I had a few classes at a different school. They had the same guy every time they wanted a male model. No matter where I sat in the room he would pose to face me and would stare at me… Kind of creepy. And why didn’t the female models do the same ; ) With this guy I was just in the wrong place.

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            1. trentpmcd Post author

              No, it wasn’t this guy, it was at a different school. But maybe I drew this in the way you described because of that bad experience! I was still traumatized! ;)

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      1. idiotwriter

        Oh well then, I played into your hands Trent. What actually is the point you were making? I don’ think you want to get into this conversation with me. For me – I could not care less – I only find it a very odd position (not shocking just unattractive and aesthetically displeasing… and ACTUALLY bloody hard to draw…
        If I see a naked picture of a human being male or female it is the aesthetics of the pose, the attitude and the portrayal that appeals – genitals has nothing to do with the overall ethos – except when spoken of light-heartedly – with = humour. It is the ‘mood’ created that matters. That one creates a ‘get away from me and leave me alone sense in me’ – Perhaps this is because you as the artist find not much appealing in the portrayal of another man? And I will be shocked if you disagree with me here – but the female form when doing life drawing is so much more versatile and – appealing to the eye with all those beautiful curves. The male is an angular creature – hard to depict in his own inherent beauty and stature. Balls don’t make or break it do they? ;)

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        1. trentpmcd Post author

          Actually, I agree with you. It wasn’t -you- I was thinking about, but others. We have a few paintings of male nudes in our house, usually not like this ;), but still. When people come into the house you can tell they don’t mind the female nudes but hate the male ones. Why? I had a gallery owner friend who hated the female nude. It’s awkward, doesn’t show “true” form, etc., etc. So it is in the eye of the beholder. I like this drawing better than the other male drawings I did for the class mostly because I think I did a better job, not the pose. Actually, one day the model didn’t show up (college kid female) and so we had someone volunteer. He stayed clothed. I actually like those drawings better, but I was showing pictures from a figure drawing class, wasn’t I:) ? So I didn’t use any of those.

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          1. idiotwriter

            Probably because female genitalia are mostly on the inside not the outside on display. How often do you see female nudes that have their legs wide open with it all dangling out? It IS done – but it is not that common unless you are into doing porn. Whereas there is no other way to portray a true nude of a male WITHOUT placing his maleness on absolute display. So that is POSSIBLY why nude males are awkward for most viewers. Take that painting I did with the snake and the man and woman. A LOT of people commented that it looked like she was caressing his genitals… have we become sexualised or are we JUST wired to think sexually when we see the naked human form? You know – procreation and multiplication n stuff.
            Other than that to be perfectly honest with you – a cock is an ugly thing unless ready for action – and even then. Women are more sexually ignited by the MANNERISMS (mood) attitude body language then direct visual stimulus. SO it goes to figure that outright nudity for some is not appealing and for others has no effect – it depends how they are reading it – body language or basic instinct of seeing a sexual organ and thinking – fuck.
            SOrry to be crass – but that is societies depiction. SO yes – we agree – but we also portray different aspects. Your women is beautiful because YOU as the artist FIND more beauty in a women. You read the male as JUST a body – not much more? He does nto even have a face. If it was I drawing even though in life – the face would show MUCH more than the body – simply because it id more a point of interest for me.
            This goes fairly deep – much deeper than – uh hum – meets the eye.
            Cool convo though ;) Laters

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