Friday, June 18, 2004

The Debate: To Paint or Not to Paint the Nude.

There is an on-going debate among Christians and Christian Fine Artists. Any person, and any young person, who decides to take up a career in Art really needs to come to terms with this issue. It is the issue of painting nudes and whether or not it does or does not infringe upon the “purity of heart” clause in our covenant when we receive Christ?

I found what I thought was “great” way to deal with it many years ago. I just learned to paint animals and landscapes and buildings and any person who wasn’t directly involved with the animal such as a rider really didn’t get any attention from me. I thought that I had solved the problem because I was doing benign art that couldn’t possibly spark the ire of my Christian Bothers and Sisters.

Funny isn’t it.. Doctors, Nurses, Dressmakers, Tailors, and some Scientists all have to at some point be familiar with human functions and anatomy in order to carry out the duties of their professions with some knowledge and care for the well being of the object of their work. Would you want to be treated by a nurse or doctor who didn’t know where things were and what they looked like? What about clothiers?? Would you wear the clothing of a person who only knew about quadrupeds?? How could someone who knew only how dogs and cats are made and where things are, make clothing that would properly fit a human?

The very nature of an artist should provoke more understanding among the brothers and sisters. We are at once, interpreters of daily life, historians, documentariens, scientists, we make social statements and commentary on things we know about, we bring beauty and provoke thought, we carry on thoughts and wishes of our patrons and capture feelings of certain moments in time, we are physiologists, we are sociologists. We do not always touch our subjects, but our subjects always in subtle ways touch us.

To tell an artist that he or she should not practice figures and study figures before beginning to paint humans is like telling an architect that he must design a house with no knowledge of foundation, materials, wiring and plumbing. It could lead to costly mistakes besides the fact that things would just look funny. But worse it would be like telling a child:”write your story right now, you don’t need to know how to make the letters…” It would be all scribbles and meaningless and incredibly frustrating to the person who knows what they are seeing in their mind and know it is screaming to be let out on paper. To Be continued

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