Friday, May 22, 2009

Ninjas, Tutorials, and Masculinity

Hey all. Sorry for the gap between posts lately. Melissa's had the builders in and a bunch of projects to finish up, and I've had a tough couple of weeks at work. So this post is a bit of a pick-and-mix (instead of sugar candy, we substitute eye candy) - just a few things I've been taking notes on that don't quite justify a full post in themselves.

Back in March we pimped out the Ninja Mountain right as they added the first female voice to their podcast, Anne Stokes. Since then Anne has been back and Socar Myles has also been on a bunch of times. As a matter of fact, she's on this week (I'm listening as I type) and let me tell you, if you thought the podcasts were funny before, you will be splitting your sides when Socar joins in. Back when I first stumbled across Epilogue she was The Artist whose advice and articles I read over and over, and I still hear her thoughts on colour theory in my head when I paint. It's even better listening to her in person - she's very smart, very deadpan, and very very funny. Go and listen! The podcast is excellent no matter who is on, but if you're especially interested in hearing Anne and Socar, start around episode eight.

It looks like the post on stock resources and reference for the male form was pretty popular, so for those of you that haven't seen it yet, this might be of interest to you.

Melissa does an hour long live painting session every Wednesday on Ustream and this week she spent some time sketching and discussing the differences between male and female faces. Ustream records her video sessions so you can view it later as often as you like - the male/female face portion starts around 23 mins. She also has a short tutorial on just painting young male faces here on DeviantArt. Have fun!

I recently posted a finished piece of artwork (featuring a guy - this is important) on one of the bigger art forums for feedback. One small comment caught my attention.

"It's more provocative than masculine ;)."

The painting was absolutely provocative and I'm not debating that - it was intended to be. Like we say whenever we get onto this subject - there aren't enough sexy male portraits out there. It was that "more provocative than masculine" remark that took me aback. Since when are the two mutually exclusive? Is it an either or situation? Men can be sensual, in your face sexy OR masculine, but not both?

Thinking on it, apparently so! Do you see many paintings of men sprawled elegantly over silk bedsheets with a come-hither expression on their face? Do you see them standing in the middle of a battlefield pouting, attired and posing in a way that says, "Oh! Hello, miss! I seem to have had a terrible accident and lost all my clothes except for these very fine leather boxer shorts and my sword. Is there any way you could assist me with this? I'd be so very grateful."

No, not usually, but I now know what I'm doing for my next painting.

No, you don't get many male pinups. Men in art are DOING stuff. Manly stuff. Oh sure, you get character portraits, but they generally tend to be fully clothed, or at least mostly clothed, and radiating attitude that's rarely about seduction. On the rare occasion you do see a picture of a man that's purely seductive, he often tends to be...soft. Pretty. Delicate. I'm all for pretty guys but sometimes it's as if the artist has deliberately gone as "feminine" as they can get away with because nobody could possibly deal with the sight of a man as a sex object...unless he looks like a woman.

Women can multi-task while being objectified, you see. According to fantasy art, a woman can topple an army, decapitate a demon, fly a spaceship, rule an empire AND sprawl elegantly over silk bedsheets with a come hither expression on their face or stand in the middle of a battlefield after a terrible clothing-related accident at the same time. It's all in a day's work.

Would you look at a seductive female character and think, "Well, she's more provocative than feminine?" I doubt it. Certainly we all have different notions of what the word "feminine" means to us, but I don't think that's the sort of femininity we're talking about here. I think what we're talking about is sexuality. Breasts and buttocks are sexual in a woman. In men, bare chests and butts are also sexual, but it's apparently taboo to portray them as such - if a guy is showing skin, it's usually in a Rawr, HE-MAN, my muscles-let-me-show-you-them sort of way. To quote someone who was commenting on the portrayal of male and female characters in comic book, "Men are strong. Women are sexy."

Yes, women can be sexy, and they can be Doing Stuff (but only if they look sexy while doing it). Men can either be Doing Stuff or they can be sexy (but only if they look like women while doing it).

Look, female artists deal with having our own gender sexed up to the extreme and thrust in our faces every time we log onto a fantasy website. I'm pretty sure any Real Men in the audience can put on their big boy leather shorts and deal with it too.


  1. I like sexy men to be doin' stuff. Like taking out my trash......

  2. Yum... I support sexy males in fantasy art :)