Artistic Nude Figure Drawing- Artistic Tradition or Scandal?

by David Finley
What comes to your mind when you hear the words, "nude figure drawing"?

 Do you equate those words with neon lit signs that say "Live Nude Girls" or club marques that say "We Bare All"? Perchance, might you picture an over-crowded sin filled room of leering male artists, eye pawing the delicate flesh of a young girl who has thrown away her self esteem to pay for college? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then I say welcome. This open letter is for you, friend:

 Dear Sir or Madam,

 I'm sure you've heard the usual defenses: "Artists look at the nude human body much in the same academic and objective way a doctor does." "There's nothing sexual about the study of the nude form in an academic setting." "Studying the nude female and male form in a live sitting is the only way to train the mind to understand the composition and visual make-up of the form."

 To these arguments you say, "Phooey and fiddlesticks! That rubbish won't turn my moral compass."

 I hear you. We artists are after all a bunch of scofflaws, which is why this Haven was started in the first place.

 Let me be the first artist to applaud your virtue, but also let me pose a question if I might... Are you being completely, totally, and one hundred percent fair in your opinion of nude figure drawing?

 I will concede you might be. In which case, you've attended these figure drawing sessions in person, judged them for yourself, noticed a good majority of the artists are women, not men, and still thought lust an issue as you meticulously drew a foot, laboring fervently to get the placement and shape just right. I must say, your commitment to detail and self examination makes me like you all the more.

 Of course you didn't form your opinion based on TV shows or movies either, which glamorize and sexualize the experience, showing a fantasy world where the artist woos his diamond necklace adorned model in a tawdry affair. You're far too savvy to have fallen for that. Besides, your virtue is too ironclad to allow you to watch movies like that in the first place. It's obvious you formed your opinion carefully, without preconception.

 Indeed, I can hardly contain the sunburst my respect for you has become. So, I fold my hands in surrender. I will no longer endeavor to persuade you away from the concept that it is a  shameful notion to pursue the study of life drawing and its associated moral depravities.

 I should thank you for saving me many future headaches.

 Ever your friend,

 The Artist

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