You don’t have to be a great artist to paint your partner. All you need is a strong and creative passion for the physical body – and a playful desire to experiment.
The human form is the subject of more great paintings than anything else in the world. Whether portrayed in a naturalistic manner or in garish, imaginative abstract, many millions of women and men have lain naked in front of the artist’s easel over the past centuries for the sake of fame, love, money or vanity.
In the nude studies that have survived and gained praise and notoriety, there is often more than a hint of the erotic in the carefully-rendered human flash. Great painters have the genius to capture that intangible spark and put it down on canvas, and spark there must surely have been, as the wives, mistresses and muses lay for hours in front of their masters, while they scrutinised every curve, hollow and line of their bodies.
The artist in you
Painting your naked lover is an interesting experience. Whether you have artistic talent or not, it is an extremely sensual exercise and can be highly erotic and satisfying in itself. It gives the painter a chance to study their lover’s form long and hard – and to feast their eyes on every hollow, mould and angle that make up the human body.
The artist can study such things that may have been considered individually but never as a whole – the way the skin tones change, the pattern of the hair growth and the way the shadows are cast by the curves or muscles.
It is an erotic experience for the models too, to have such care and attention lavished upon their form as they lie comfortably and quietly in a warm room.
You don’t need any professional equipment in order to paint a nude portrait of your partner, although a makeshift easel helps. Prop a piece of hardboard or similar board against a solid object, making sure there is enough space for you to move around behind it and see your partner fully.
If you don’t have large sheets of sketching paper, the back of an old roll of wallpaper will do, so long as it is smooth. The expanse of paper will give you plenty of room for making sketches.
You can choose any medium you like to work in – charcoal, poster paints, pastels, even oil on canvas – but remember that whatever you choose will dictate the style of the final outcome. With brightly coloured kids’ paints, you can go for an abstract, pop-art style of figure, with pencil or pen a simple sketch, with oils a more traditional style of painting.
It probably won’t be long before you too are naked and letting your sensitive hands pleasure the parts of your partner’s body that you were so recently committing to canvas.
Set up your equipment then, making sure the room is warm enough for your partner to sit nude, work on the pose. It must be comfortable if it is to be held for more than five minutes, so reclining on a bed or sofa is perhaps the one to go for. Cover the surface he or she is to lie on with a dust sheet so the background is not a distraction, then start experimenting with positions.
You may have a firm idea of what you want, in which case try it and see if it works. Otherwise, sit at your easel and let your partner experiment until you spot something that looks right. A Polaroid or digital camera can help at this stage, as a snap can always be referred to for positioning if the model needs to stretch during the session.
Begin with bold, wild stokes to capture the curves, lines and planes. You will be looking at your partner in a new way and may well discover aspects of your partner which seem unfamiliar – a mole here, a patch of darker skin there. It’s not a question of having been inattentive before, just that now you are forced to look at every centimeter and reproduce it on paper.
If at first the sketch doesn’t please, try again. You will soon learn to transform the lines of reality to lines on paper. You might even be surprised by your early prowess. As soon as you arrive at a sketch you are happy with, you can start to paint. As your colours start to bring the picture to life, your passion will begin to rise. The delicate bloom of the skin, the smooth tautness of the muscles or the dark shock of pubic hair might just be enough to distract you from your work of art.
Give in to the urge, as artists are entitled to be wild and impetuous, and make sexy, painty love to your muse on the studio floor.