Nude sketches?

Hello, I’ve been a long time lurker of straight dope and it’s forums however I never made an account until now. I usually have hundreds of questions however I often forget them:smack: the day after until now.
I’m no artist but I wonder why is it that women are sketched nude?
What about males?
Why not clothed?
Does it come down to the reason that someone considers it to be beautiful or is it merely a chance for males to see a naked women without having to turn on the Internet or walk into a brothel?

Men are also sketched nude. Most decent art classes will have the student sketch/draw/paint both female and male forms.

I am not an artist but here are a couple of things that will hold you over until the artists show up.

Rendering the human figure is considered a very basic skill in art. All artists learn this, and the nude model is the standard for it. Both male and female.

It is not necessarily because the human figure is innately beautiful, in the sense of “Whoa, she’s hot!” When I was in college I walked down a hallway in the art school and saw a couple of models that were very much blobby. Artists’ figure models are not like fashion models.

IMHO the human figure presents challenges in terms of capturing the shape and character of a subject with much greater complexity than, say, a bowl of fruit.

In order to draw, paint, or sculpt realistic human forms, you need to understand more than just the skin. You have to be able to ‘see’ the skeletal system, how joints fit together, where tendons and ligaments attach to bones, how muscles protrude and lie when contracted or extended, how skin gets distended or pulled. A nude model is a good opportunity to see how the human body changes with tension in various places and how the skin lies over the top of all these different interior aspects. How the muscles in the arms pop when they’re extended above the head vs. hanging at the side. how a calf muscle is flexed depending on if the person is standing straight or ‘Captain Morganing’.

Because clothing, with the folds and seams and textures, is harder to sketch than the smooth curves of feminine pulchritude.

There are two important reasons not yet mentioned.

  1. Because the interplay of musculature for any given pose can only be seen in the unclad figure. Therefore drawing nudes is essential to learning graphic art,

  2. By a quite reasonable convention, the nude represents humanity as a whole, rather than wearing a business suit, a kilt, flowing robes, a loincloth, fringed buckskins, a parka, or a spacesuit, each of which diverts your attention from what that person has in common with all other humans to what makes him representative of his particular culture.

And take it from me, most of the nude models in your average University art class, male or female, are nothing to write home about.

In other words, don’t give up on the internet just yet.

An artist friend described it to me this way: If you’re drawing a person and the hips are not just right, that drawing will look wrong. For example, your hips are rarely perfectly level, even when you’re standing still. If the drawing is of a nude person, we’ll all know WHY it’s wrong because there’s nothing covering the alignment of hips, knees, feet, etc. If the drawing is of a clothed person, it may be hard to pinpoint what’s wrong because the clothes leave you with nothing more than a vague impression that something’s off.

Once you can draw the person nude, you’ve mastered how the underlying anatomy works and then you just have to add the knowledge about how clothes drape or shape the body.

I’ve taken “life art” drawing classes. They are surprisingly nonsexual even if the model is attractive. They include males and females. There are young men and women modeling for [surprisingly] little money. There are elderly males and females. You have to learn to draw all kinds of the human form.

It’s all about understanding the skeleton and musculature. There are parts of the human body that are extremely difficult to draw. Making breasts look real is not easy. Hands are extremely difficult. Just drawing the neck correctly can be a challenge. If proportions are off the drawing is no good. Getting the rolls of fat on the 65 year old woman to look real isn’t easy.

If you are really trying to draw well it is more work than fun.

Very basically, if you draw a tree wrong, it still looks like a tree. If you draw a human wrong, you can see your errors much more clearly.

A friend of mine once worked as a model for art classes at a very conservative Christian college. He said that, at that school, students were only allowed to draw models of the opposite sex. That way, if you had any evil thoughts, at least they would be heterosexual evil thoughts. :rolleyes: :slight_smile:

Drawing men can be very different from drawing women. Women are generally more about smooth curves. Men, on the other hand, are generally a lot more angular.

Here are some women I’ve drawn, and here’s a man I’ve drawn. While prefer to look at women, I actually find men more fun to draw.

Nudes are also very popular with art buyers. Personally, I find nice images of the human body to be very relaxing to look at, even if it is a male nude, which doesn’t arouse me sexually.

Men are sketched nude all the time, painted too!

Hell my BIL was approached in real life by a locally famous artist who asked him to pose nude for a painting, he declined because he thought the guy had a thing for him. :stuck_out_tongue:

The real answers (clothes are hard for beginners, the lines are good for practicing, nude subjects are traditionally seen as an aesthetically appealing subject) have been covered pretty well.

I’ve always had a suspicion that part of the reason life drawing classes continue to be nude is that it gives the students a sense of connection to the tradition of art and also gives them a little experience being in an odd public situation. Art’s kind of a weird world; having a bunch of college freshman sketch chubby naked people seems like a good initiation.

Would this still be true for an nurseryman?
It’s probably because most of us spend more time looking at other humans than looking at trees, so we don’t have more than a superficial understanding of how trees actually look.

I’ve been around horses all my life, and have frequently noticed artworks where the horses are shown in quite unrealistic and inaccurate ways. That’s pretty noticeable to me.

How true. Michelangelo’s are famous for looking bizarre and slapped on the torso.

Makes you think.

I am an artist and at collage i drew male and females body’s both clothed and “undraped”. In fact the first time i saw a fully “undraped” female was at collage. She was a lovely older lady with pure white hair and was at least 65. No it wasn’t sexy really, the intensity of concentration it takes to draw, basically at that stage, exhausts you pretty quickly. But male artists are men and like a lot of guys, like to look at naked girls. Even if it is a work out for the mind eye coordination. Denying its sexuality is mistaken, in say the case of the Impressionists drawing their girl friends or partners or even paid models. The naked form is, even nude, warped up in the way we look at it and that includes our base desires.

The above reasons are all true, but I have to point out that we, as humans, mare more interested in the human form than in other creatures. Part of it is sexual, I’m sure, but part is also human-centric. There is no fundamental reason why people shpouldn’t be as interested in looking at the body structure and anatomy of animals. If you’re after something not covered by fur or feathers and just want to see the skin and muscles and the interplay of light, you could look at a plucked chicken or a shaved cat, but people generally don’t draw those. We do draw naked people.

It’s a heck of a lot harder to get horses to pose in art studios.