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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Paintings I've Not Done Yet--Figures

Copyright, Jim Lane
Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, 1787,
Antonio Canova, the Louvre, Paris.
If an artists wishes to paint the human figure (on canvas, that is, not literally), especially nude figures, he or she has few options, none of which are very attractive. The artist can, of course, hire a model, and hope his or her spouse is quite understanding (not to mention that of the model). The artist can, instead, hire a photographer and let the picture-taker worry about the model and any spouses. Or, the artist can go to the Internet and find, of course, a zillion and a half nude photos to download and use as source material, assuming the spouse is tolerant of such things or the artist can do so secretly. Conceivably the artist could sketch clothed figures in public then undress them in later sketches or paintings. Another option is for the artist to do what serious art students in centuries past did take, college art classes and have the services of a model or plaster casts of the human body from which to draw. There is, one other alternative, probably the least convenient of them all, that being to visit major museums and there sketch any suitable bronze or marble sculptures on display. Working from sculptural figures has the added benefit of allowing the artist to add color and other elements to the painting free from the influence of the original model.
Copyright, Jim Lane
The Swimmers, MS Island Princess pool deck sculptures--
a whole new meaning to a bronze tan.
Copyright, Jim Lane
The Imperial Prince and His
Dog, Nero, 1865, Jean-
Baptiste Carpeaux
Of course, taking along a camera saves time and lessens the inconvenience, especially inasmuch as most museums do not restrict existing light photography (no flash). This would be terrible advice with regard to paintings, but most museum sculptures are ideally lit for photography from several (but seldom all) angles. The model doesn't move and the artist can go back to his or her studio with dozens of possible source im-ages, from which to choose only the best to print and paint. Moreover, in the case of some of the largest museums, the "models" available cover a very broad range of sub-ject matter content from mythological nudes to portrait busts, children, the old, the young, the extremely beautiful to the downright ugly. As a sculptor of the human figure in all its Victorian manifestations, Jean-Baptiste Car-peaux (right) is among the best the Orsay Museum in Paris has to offer.
Copyright, Jim Lane
These two figures are also from the Princess collection. I've
taken the liberty of digitally removing the highly cluttered background
The Lone Sailor, Stanley
Bleifeld, Vista Point,
Marin County, California
Inasmuch as today is Thursday, this is the fifth group in a series of photos I've collected over the years as possible sources for paintings. Since I now have far more than I'm ever likely to use, I'm here offering them free of charge for other painters to use (with my freely given e-mail permission) as source material for their own paintings. Few restrictions reply other than to stipulate they not be published as photos and that I would appreciate very much an e-mailed photo of the finished work. Please request the use of only one of these photos at a time from These photos are not to be considered in the public domain--I retain the copyright where applicable. The bronze sculpture of The Lone Sailor (left) overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge from the Marin County (north) end. The copyright in this case is retained by the sculptor. This is one of several copies throughout the coun-try.
Copyright, Jim Lane
Young Tarantine Girl, 1871, Alexandre Schoenewerk
Copyright, Jim Lane
The Three Graces, 1817,
Antonio Canova
For those whose taste in nude figures favor the female variety, the Orsay Museum in Paris, with its deep collection of 19th-century sculpture is an ideal place to take on the persona of an art connoisseur with camera, rather than a peep show pervert. The Young Tarantine Girl (above) and Antonio Canova's Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss were two of my favorites. They seem less overtly erotic in a museum atmosphere. Outside of the typical museum environ-ment, I found another Canova sculpture, The Three Graces (right) on the grounds of William Randolph Hearst's San Sim-eon estate in California. Hearst's tastes in sculpture was very much overtly erotic.

Copyright, Jim Lane
Here you might want to consider the addition
of hands and arms--be creative.


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