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Life Drawing and the male gaze

(15 Posts)
digerd Mon 26-Nov-12 18:20:44

Talking about light and the female body being easier to draw as smoother, I am confused. Ladies have lots more and larger softer lumps and bumps, which create darker shades in the lower areas of the lumps and bumps, surely, especially the more volluptuous women popular with famous artists . They are more interesting in shape to paint than men IMO as a lady myself.
I prefer beautiful landsapes with no people.

chickendad Mon 26-Nov-12 17:53:34

Probably both.

AnyFucker Mon 26-Nov-12 16:56:38


TeiTetua Mon 26-Nov-12 15:21:30

Uh-oh. Trouble in paradise.

StillLurking Mon 26-Nov-12 14:49:16

This is pissing me off. Apologies for probably breaking numerous MN rules but 'D'H if this comment

I think DW has the opinion I’ll be off ogling some renaissance beauties

is what you took from our conversation you are either unable to understand basic feminist analysis or trying to be funny. Can't decide which is worse.

<retreats back to shadows>

jeee Mon 26-Nov-12 14:39:17

We have male and female models. It's irrelevant what sex they are. Some people are easier to draw than others. Again, it's irrelevant what sex they are.

Though I have to say that if my DC see my sketches they invariably roll round the floor, sniggering.

TeiTetua Mon 26-Nov-12 14:35:51

What's with the "naked ladies" if they're just as likely to be naked gentlemen? If you worry about the kids seeing the sketches, then it is indeed time to worry.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 14:13:07

I think there's a world of difference between looking and ogling with intent chickendad. I can't imagine that a life drawing class is the place most people would want to go to get their jollies, a man wouldn't want to be standing up at an easel in that sort of situation if you catch my drift.

If you put it that way, I'm sure your DW would understand. grin

chickendad Mon 26-Nov-12 14:08:34

Thanks for the responses.

The models are not always women, at least not at the groups I have been to. And they are not always young either. I think DW has the opinion I’ll be off ogling some renaissance beauties.

I guess since reading the previous board it did make me think more about it. I have 2 daughters and I’m not sure how they would feel if they asked “where is Daddy?” and had the response “It’s Tuesday, dear, he’s drawing pictures of naked ladies.”

Or if they stumbled across my sketch books? But then if these are just regular bodies, non-sexualised and probably pretty badly drawn, then it’s not like they are uncovering a stash of porn.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 13:53:24

I have a male friend who does modelling for artists, and he says the instructors consider drawing the men more of a challenge--women have smoother curves, and men are more angular and also have more hair.

That's true from what I remember!

TeiTetua Mon 26-Nov-12 13:44:19

If this drawing class features a mix of women and men as models, then I think you have an alibi. (Though the dw may still be muttering "He only does it for the women.") I'm willing to accept an enjoyment of human bodies and human skill, but it would be reassuring to hear that it's not just the man behind the easel, and the naked woman out in front of it.

I have a male friend who does modelling for artists, and he says the instructors consider drawing the men more of a challenge--women have smoother curves, and men are more angular and also have more hair. But we can't go through life always taking the easy option.

FunBagFreddie Mon 26-Nov-12 13:30:52

I did life drawing at uni, the subjects were male and female, and we also got the chance to draw a range of body types.

In all honesty, I wasn't even really thinking of the subject as a person, I was far more focused on the form and lighting etc. I think the males in the class were too. It probably was dehumansing and there was an element of objectification from my point of view, but not in a bad way. It was more because I felt very disconnected from the fact that I was drawing an actual live person, it could just have easily been any object, like a bowl of fruit.

AnyFucker Mon 26-Nov-12 12:46:30

Are the subjects always females in life drawing classes ?

I wasn't aware of that

Brodicea Mon 26-Nov-12 12:38:48

As a drawer (wouldn't say artist) I have found life drawing to be a positive experience, affirming the beauty of different kids of body, male and female, and simply looking at shapes and light, trying to recreate and interpret the form of the human body....Pretty much the opposite of sexual objectification: the focal shift required to make art is akin to objectification (making something into an object or image), but in the case of life drawing it isn't inherently exploitative. This isn't to say it hasn't BEEN exploitative, but it doesn't have to be.

chickendad Mon 26-Nov-12 11:36:51

I'm planning on revisiting an old hobby and go along to a life drawing group. My wife (long time MN lurker) has reservations and put me onto this thread. It has a lot of interesting chat re. male gaze, objectification etc. which I’d never thought of before, not because I’m naive (ok, completely because I’m naive!) but that was not my experience of life drawing. Also, because I think a life drawing group is a very different situation from a private sitting where the artist has power over the sitter, tells them how to pose and so on, and then hangs it on a wall/sells it for loads of money.

I’d say my thoughts naturally resonate with WidowWadman on this thread who says: "When I pose for life drawing there's plenty of men and women drawing my body, and of course they're looking at my body, not what I have to say. They looking at lights and shades on my lumpy and bumpy body - and the next week they're looking at lights and shades on someone else's lumpy and bumpy body and learn how to get that onto paper with various tools. Nothing to do with me being powerless or a sex object.”

When I've done drawing before it has been both male/female models, various ages, shapes etc. and I've enjoyed the experience of drawing.

Any thoughts on this, can I escape the historical relationship of ‘(male) viewer’ and ‘(female) object’ to be just a curious ‘drawer’. I guess if I were drawing a man it would not be seen this way, so is there just too much history and culture of inequality to draw a woman in the buff without it being exploitative or objectifying? I am 'objectifying' in the sense of drawing an object that is a human, but is that dehumanising?

Any insights from sitters/drawers would be great.

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