Why do I paint the female form?

I was asked recently why I mostly paint women, it’s not all of my work, but it is most of my work, and I really had to think about the answer.

I have previously created pieces in oils, acrylics and pencil. Mostly landscapes and abstract sunsets in acrylics, but female figurative in graphite and oil. 

In fact all of my graphite works are of women, always beautiful, elegant, women, rarely nude, always clothed, or wrapped in some material, as I also love to draw materials.

To be honest, I have never wondered why I paint women, it’s just always seemed to be the most correct thing for me to depict as an artist.

From an early age I have always been fascinated by women and I hold them in the utmost regard, for many reasons, life givers, constant diplomacy amongst the male population, subtle humour, stunning beauty, determination, compassion and empathy, are all integral characteristics that I admire in most women.    

From the age of around 13, I recall idolising women, young and old, or what I would call old at that age, I remember drawing a picture of Marylin Monroe from the Elton John album, Good Bye Yellow Brick Road when I must have been 13-14.

Prior to that I was fascinated by birds of prey, which I drew frequently. I didn’t discover, or should I say realise, that I had a love of artistic creativity until I had passed the age of my subject selections at school, and I had not selected art as a subject choice, probably for a couple of reasons.

One being that my parents took little or no interest in my artistic abilities, and two, my uncle owned his own engineering manufacturing company. It was generally assumed by my parents that I would go and work there when I left school, as my father already did, so from the age of around 16 I was not creative again until I was around 32-33.

Being called Vincent, I was always aware of the work of Van Gogh, along with the Don Maclean song about the artist. I naturally looked up Van Gogh, and I fell in love with his work as soon as I saw it. This led me to the work of other Impressionists, and Degas became a favourite.

His ballerinas and women at their daily tasks just fascinated me, and continue to do so. So much so that when my wife and I visited Paris and went to the Musee D’Orsay, I found it quite an emotional experience to view his work.

At some point in my early years, I started to want to paint, a growing desire to just create artwork, and I then discovered a Scottish artist by the name of Jack Vettriano, and I just thought, I’m sure that I could do that.

I started to paint landscapes, and as a massive F1 fan, I also drew racing drivers, but I'm not quite sure when or why I switched to female figurative pieces, but for some reason, I am drawn to them, no pun intended. Maybe it was because Vettriano mostly painted women, I cant really say.

I find female figurative art captivating, the ability to capture a female figure in a delicate pose, dismissive of her surroundings is to me an artform worth striving for, women can be creatures of such beauty.

The female form has been captured on canvas for hundreds of years, by many of the greatest painters in history, in fact arguably the most famous painting in the world is of a woman, the Mona Lisa, painted over 500 years ago.

For me as an artist I feel that it is the most difficult thing to capture with brush and paint, or a simple pencil. You have to compose the overall image outside of the subject matter. The figure is the central component, how she stands or sits, what she is or isn't wearing, the style and colour of her hair, all central to the piece.

After this the location can be secondary, there will be many artists who disagree with this statement, but sometimes a simple semi abstract background will suffice, so as not to be in combat with the main element of the piece, the figure herself. 

Does an artist create what they desire, maybe, does an artist create what is their inner truth, again maybe, I have never thought about it so deeply, and I guess I haven’t fully answered our question, but I will say that capturing a woman on paper or canvas is one of the hardest subjects to create.

Painting a man allows a certain flexibility, the guy can look rugged, or characteristic, but a woman has to have a delicacy and class about her that a male subject wouldn't need.

So, stunning temptresses, pouting models, motor cyclists, scooter riders, ballerinas, walking through fields, adjusting their shoes, sitting by the pool even, I have created images around them all, and will hopefully continue to do so.

Stay safe, well and happy.

Cheers

Sterling

Why do I paint the female form?