Make the Nude Your Own Make the Nude Your Own By Kelly Stevens
As the director of a nude themed art event, I have seen over the years,
hundreds of submissions of nudes. I find artworks consistently fall into common
categories. While each of these categories has a distinct place in the history of
the nude, at the same time, their commonality of these nude themes can detract
from establishing an artist’s uniqueness.
The following is a list of common nude themes seen repeatedly in art
portrayals of the nude human form. After considering each of these themes, also
consider how you might create nude art “outside the box” to highlight your own
unique art through the beauty of the nude.
1. Nude and Mythology.
Nudes of antiquity dating back to the time of
ancient Greece and Rome have portrayed the nude with mythological
gods, goddesses and legends. Particularly common themes include nudes
of Prometheus, nymphs and fawns, Venus, etc. Similar to the worship of
mythological figures and their perfection, this format allows the nude to be
worshipped in its perfection as well. Also included in this genre include
angelic nudes. Mythological portrayals of nude figures with beautiful wings
seem to be a natural inspiration for many artists.
2. Adam and Eve Nudes.
Eve with the snake; Eve with an apple; Adam with
an apple, Eve and Adam in the Garden; all of these themes are ubiquitous
with numerous submissions annually portraying the nude, or nakedness,
in relationship to the Original Sin. Being unique within this theme is a
particular challenge for an artist.
3. Classic Posing Nudes.
We have all seen these classic forms of a nude
figure reclining on a chaise or sitting in a fixed posture. In these nudes, the
primary focus is on the pose itself and how it accentuates the features of
the nude human form. Less focus is placed on the model themselves and
more on the actual positioning of the body.
4. Nude Contrasts.
Whether it is guns, leather, machines or chains,
contrasting the soft, beautiful nude form with hard, rough images is a
natural focus of many nude artists. By contrasting the two together, the
nude is elevated in its natural elements of shape, beauty and perfection.
This method is commonly used by artists to deconstruct their perception of
the perfect nude ideal.
5. Nude and Nature.
A female nude along the soft dunes of a sandy beach;
a male nude juxtaposed in a setting of brush and craggy trees; exposed
human forms sprawled along jagged rocks; to an extent this is also a
contrast of images, but also a theme that accentuates the natural state of
the nude body. Nature and the nude share a “nakedness” and a beauty of
creation that has made this theme universally common.
6. The Nude Sketch.
Simple and often two dimensional, the nude sketch is
a basic, beautiful portrayal of the nude. In addition, the nude sketch is
timeless and routinely appeals to many. When you are at friends homes,
you may actually notice how common the nude sketch is as well as its
popularity. These are consistently easy pieces of art to sell when priced
7. Black and White Nude Photography.
Black and white nude photography
is also a popular choice among art viewers and often has a great chance
of being sold. Black and white photography in particular is flattering to the
human nude form and can be manipulated to hide flaws and present the
nude in the best light. Proper lighting is critical when dealing with black
and white photography, and settings can be used to emphasize exotic or
other features an artist wants to portray. As digital photography continues
to advance, these themes of the nude will undoubtedly remain common.
8. Nude Portraits.
Finally, everyone is accustomed to seeing a nude portrait
displayed. In its own right, these portraits can either portray a specific
individual, or painted or sculpted anonymously allowing the viewer to
envision themselves in the portrait. This concept of anonymity can pertain
to other nude themes as well.
As an artist, the human body offers a beautiful subject to express your
artistic talents as well as your inner emotions, thoughts and perceptions of the
world. The nude has represented this for artists since the beginning of time. But
in choosing how you want to portray the nude, consider breaking new ground
outside the common themes that are repeatedly seen at events, art shows and
Consider varying your textures, your lighting, your environment in
relationship to the theme of your work. Decide what meaning the nude has to you
as an artist and as a person; then express these meanings in your own unique
way. By choosing alternative themes rather than the common, you will have
greater success at demonstrating your specific talents to a larger audience. Allow
your personality to speak to others through your own special theme of nude art.