The next step

I have worked from the live nude periodically since the early 1970's. This blog starts in my second year of working almost exclusively from the figure.

In the fall of 2015 I reintroduced still lifes and an occasional cityscape into my painting repertoire. Rather than abandon this figure blog or start a new one I decided to just add them to the conservation.

All drawings and paintings posted on this blog were done entirely from the live model.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Old Enough

I have long expected that my best female nudes will happen when I reach an age where the inherent sexuality of the female form ceases to be a bother. I'm still waiting.

Standing Nude, oil pastel, 13" X 8", 2017

Saturday, May 13, 2017


While an art student in college I was approached by a gentleman with an offer of a summer job drawing tourist portraits at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. He must have been scouting art programs and seen something in my figurative work that would be suitable to that task. My recollection of the exchange is fuzzy but without much thought I turned him down. Should I have regrets regarding that hasty decision?

Livia, oil pastel, 13" X 11", 2017

I certainly passed up a life broadening experience and a fun resume entry. Doing scores of quick studies would have left me with an efficient working method regarding portraiture. Therein lies the problem - to this day I shun formulaic approaches to art. Somehow, I am quite content stumbling and feeling my way through each new drawing.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Pinup Nude

Having focused on the figure for a number of years I feel comfortable calling myself a student of the art nude. The broad category encompasses a multitude of subjects and intents. One category, however, dominates the genre. I will generalize and call it the "pinup nude". These pictures always depict an idealized female model posed seductively with the intent of eliciting a sexual response in a male viewer.

Seated Nude, oil on linen, 20" X 16", 2012

I have no objection to pinup nudes. Many excellent artist/illustrators have specialized in them. From a feminist perspective a legitimate argument can be made that they objectify and unrealistically portray the female form.

Viewing my body of figurative work it is clear that I am not drawn to this style of nude. My personal favorites include a variety of body types of both sexes. What I'm striving for when approaching a nude (or any painting for that matter) is simple honesty.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Hobby Artist Revisited

Awhile back I revealed that I had begun referring to myself as a "hobby" artist as opposed to a "professional" artist (see October 6th and 16th, 2016 posts). The main reason for doing so was to simplify the tax paperwork involved in the enterprise of keeping a studio and selling art. My main takeaway was that labels were of little importance. But now I have decided on a more fitting designation.

Seated Nude, oil pastel, 8 1/2" X 8", 2011

Henceforth I shall answer to "student" artist. More than any title this captures my true circumstances both past and present. The Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in drawing and painting I earned in 1976 was the beginning, not the end of my studies.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Long Pose

For me there has always been a certain level of anxiety associated with working from the live figure. This unease has always primarily been performance based. The fear being that a drawing or painting won't be up to par. This insecurity never entirely goes away but now my main apprehension is time based - specifically that there won't be enough of it.

Portrait Study, oil pastel, 9" X 7", 2017

Nude Study, oil pastel on toned paper, 12" X 9", 2017

I did these two drawings last week at the Art League in Alexandria, Virginia. The five hour session features a single pose. It would be hard to overstate the calming effect of having an adequate block of time with which to work.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


I once read an article by a man who was well into his 90's. He was a writer and had led, in fact was still leading, an interesting and full life. The tone of his article wasn't angry or bitter he was simply relating his situation as an nonagenarian. Most individuals and indeed society as a whole had ceased paying any attention to him. In his daily life, at parties or with his writing he had become invisible.

Seated Nude, oil pastel on toned paper, 7" X 7", 2012

This eventuality is all too familiar to a visual artist. For most of us being ignored isn't something new. In lock step with our broader culture the art world skews toward youth. Persevering in the face of this truth can be a challenge.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Back when money was tight I developed the habit of buying paintings in thrift stores solely for their stretchers. Usually a complete stretcher frame could be had for less than the price of just one side in an art supply store. To this day I continue the practice because the wood of older stretchers is superior to that of newly milled versions.

Thrift Store Painting, (signed B. Embrey?), 14" X 18", date unknown

Thrift Store Painting, (signed Francena),
24" X 28", date unknown

Removing a canvas from its support is easy but sometimes disposing of the artwork is not. Every so often there is a sincerity to the artist's effort that connects with me as a painter. Throwing these honest attempts away just doesn't seem right. So I now have a growing art collection stapled to the walls in a back room of my studio. In the long run it will probably prove more valuable than my combined efforts.