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oil painting, oil on panel, nick nichols, original art, original fine art, figure drawing, figure painting, life drawing, nude

I like life drawing classes, but there are times when I find them a little stressful. Because when that model disrobes and I catch a glimpse of nekkidness, Blam! comes the figurative two-by-four to the visual cortex. My temporal lobe perks up and my anterior insula starts gyrating while my amygdala begins humming Marvin Gaye. I’m like a deer in headlights, not sure what to do, and then the conflicts start a brewin’. The fourteen year-old in me wants to yelp because he’s so excited he thinks his head’s going to explode, while my equally excited over 25 year-old self is trying to play it a little too cool and nonchalant like he lives his daily life in a Gauguin painting. The European in me feels right at home, while the American in me doesn’t know whether to book a trip to New Orleans with a suitcase full of beads during Spring Break, or wash out his eyes with soap and give himself 20 lashes while repeating “Forgive me FCC, for I have sinned.” It’s all that Natural Freedom and Puritanism my forefathers bred into me – somewhere the nipple-shaped dots of maturity and censorship don’t connect and the repetitive friction of conflicting ideals takes its toll. And then, my ideologies start wrasslin’ and my Southern Baptist sees a devil of arousal while my atheistic, existentialist sees a big, stimulating ball of energy connecting us all under the love-making blanket of reality. And then there’s the politician in me that can’t wait to strip off his own clothes and get nekkid, take some photos, and post them to Twitter and Craigslist while ranting red-faced about family values. Luckily, this is one area where both my Blue and Red ideologies can reach across the aisle, hold hands and agree to dive off that Physical Cliff together.

I’m tellin’ you, nekkidness makes us crazy, man! I’m obviously speaking to the men, or at least to the two men that read this blog. But in case you ladies haven’t realized it, it’s true, a little skin, a bit of nekkidness, drives us boys hog wild. Plum, s * * t-bird crazy. Which is why, as an artist, I prefer nudes.

Nudes speak to my sensible, sophisticated side. When drawing nudes, the artist in me can step back and admire the beauty of the human form and tune out all the hormonal conflict. I can contemplate the juxtaposition of shapes, trace the contours of limbs while caressing paper with pencil; I can feel the swells of mass and weight with my eyes while meditating on the contrast of light and shadow and ruminating over fifty shades of grey… Wait, what? Sorry, I lost my train of thought…

The nude above is the result of a little game I played one week, trying to work on two figure paintings at the same time and finish the majority of each of them in one session. I knocked out six of these quickies in less than a week, but only half of them were worth showing. I added another element as well: all six were originally crappy landscape paintings that I painted on top of. See the yellows and pinks in the background of the right side and bottom of the painting? All from a sunset that never saw the light of day. Occasionally, you need a little play time, even if it’s with yourself, to figure out what you can accomplish.

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