Oh Dear. It’s Nude, Isn’t It?

This enormous painting sits unfinished in the attic. I don’t know how big it is, 4, maybe 5 feet wide? It sits there because I’m overwhelmed by working on such a large canvas; but every time I see it I want to finish it so I can say “here is painting with a nude man as part of the subject, and it is as beautiful as anything I’ve made.”

When this canvas was new, I stood in front of it with a stick of charcoal, and swung my arms in wide arcs, spinning where I stood, pacing fretfully away, puzzling over the natural conclusion of a line, and pouncing forward to enact that order that made most sense to me.

In short, I played around until something emerged. First it was the mermaid, then her lover, and as I oriented his position to best support her, it turned out he was going to have to be a little exposed. It just worked best for the composition.

I was troubled by the echoing concerns of family members who were embarrassed in the past by my nude self-portraits. I considered repositioning the male figure’s leg, but it seemed a contrivance, and worse, a contrivance to cater to sentiments that I disagree with.

I find the human body beautiful. I draw nudes with no premeditation, no agenda. I put them on my walls thinking they’re lovely, and am surprised to find out people are offended.

I’ve been pondering what is the driving force behind my art lately. My general stance is that beauty is enough. But I have to say that showing the human form as beautiful, showing expressions of love and sexuality as acceptable, are also important to me. I believe these can help to heal some of the damage and shame that people feel over simply being human.

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