Painting the Male nude

I am sure it has been noted that I haven’t shown any male models.

I have nothing against the male form, to the contrary, it can be very beautiful, however it is my opinion that the female form offers more scope.

When I do paint the male form, I often focus on details….or as you will see from the following images, I enjoy observing the strength of the neck and head.

rapid watercolour – Boathouse Studio P1160934 The nude first became significant in the art of Ancient Greece, where athletic competitions at religious festivals celebrated the human body, particularly the male, in an unparalleled way.    The Greeks considered them to be the embodiments of all that was best in humanity.

The ancestry of the female nude in art is distinct form the male in that it embodies the divinity of procreation. 

Moving forward it is Michelangelo’s ‘David’ created between 1501 and 1504 that to this day is the embodiment of the sublime male form.

Reclining male – rapid watercolour – Boathouse Studio – rapid watercolour


Twenty minute study – Richmond upon Thames studio P1160957

The strength of male arms – Boathouse studio


Dancer – Paris, France – a superb model – twenty  minute study


From the ‘Nudes in the Parish Hall’ Series, Crickhowell, Wales.    This model was superb…He and his wife often modelled together which was great.      rapid watercolour and pen P1160975

Kingston upon Thames Studio – rapid watercolour and felt tip pen P1160967 A Bientôt

23 thoughts on “Painting the Male nude

  1. ShimonZ

    I am so glad you raised the subject of the male nude, Janet. I agree with you that there is a wholeness, and an aesthetic beauty about the female form that surpasses the image of the male. But there also seems to be a recoiling or withdrawal on the part of many in our society from the naked male. It seems to make a lot of people uncomfortable, and I wonder about this. We do not insist that a female model should be a great beauty, in the prime of life, and well developed… but even when we do choose a male model, there is a tendency to prefer muscles and a stereotypical image. Your paintings are a pleasure to behold.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Yes, there is a double standard when it comes to male/female models.
      Some of the more interesting female models i have painted have been much older, sometimes pregnant….and definitely not with what society thinks of as the ‘perfect body’ – whereas with a male model….one does expect to see muscle and form…….
      I find that society can have such strange ideas about nudity…when what could be more natural.
      Enjoy the day….janet:)

  2. Peter Wells aka Countingducks

    What strikes me is the way, male or female, you get inside the mind and heart of your subjects so that, whether it is a twenty minute study or a full scale work, a sense of the “Livingness” of the model is always a striking aspect of your work. That is a truly remarkable gift in my opinion.

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Peter, and thank you for this really lovely comment. My hope is, when painting a subject, that I get beneath their skin – or the vaneer. It’s all about achieving a total connection with the subject. Janet. 🙂

  3. Mary

    Beautiful series of nudes Janet. There is such a natural feeling to your work, I sense you are totally at ease and peace, the paint brush is only an extension of your arm.

  4. Laine Anne Theodore

    Beautiful and gifted! – When a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, most studio drawing and painting classes alternated male and female models. I tease my husband by telling him that I have seen at least one hundred men naked and picked him. Lol!

  5. kathryningrid

    Ah, yes, dancer models! The best! They can have such strength, grace, and agility, yes, but perhaps even more helpful to us artists is their inherent sense of how they appear in space from all angles. My favorite model from when I taught Life Drawing was a good friend who had been a pro dancer in times past and I never had to pose him or even coach him in the slightest—he knew instantly and instinctively how he dwelt in the space on the throne. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that he also had training as a Buddhist monk, so his inner stillness and gentle spirit were, I think, a good influence on all of the people working in the studio. You’ve made me miss him. 🙂

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      One of my all time favourite models was a ballerina from the Royal Ballet here in London. She and I worked together for a long time, and as you say she understood innately how to move and be. Other dancers I have worked with also give so very much….it’s a natural connection. Sadly, I don’t have any of the watercolours left of the dancer from Paris. So agile, so animalistic….love him, and hope to work with him again. Thank you Katherine for your insights…they are superb. Janet.

  6. snowbird

    I did enjoy this post, it has me thinking…I too would concentrate on head, neck, arms etc…..they depict strength, something we expect in men which all men do not of course possess….but I also find the female form more beautiful to paint…male genitalia is always odd looking, it depicts areas of vulnerability whereas as a woman’s doesn’t!xxx

    1. janetweightreed10 Post author

      Good morning Dina…beautifully put. I totally agree that the male genitalia is always odd looking no matter how you portray it….as you say, so vulnerable. It’s a very interesting topic the different experience when painting male or female. Thank you so much and hope that you and your tribe of humans and furies have a wonderful day. Janet. xxx


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