The Art of Figure Painting

Published: Wednesday 09 August, 2017

What’s a figure painting? A figure painting is a work of fine art in any of the painting media with the primary subject being the human figure, whether clothed or nude. The phrase 'figure painting' is based on figure drawing, in which the focus is on the realism of the human form without encroaching on the more 'artificial' genre of portraiture.


Why do artists have a special liking for figure paintings? Andrew Conklin once said that: ”Although oil paintings are not documentaries, I see them as a process of art that captures the perfections in our life.” The human figure has been one of the constant subjects of art since the first stone age cave paintings, and has been reinterpreted in various styles throughout history. It’s a pursuit of beauty, right? Then pastel painter Sam Goodsell reveals why he finds the genre so rewarding and a process that, to him, is fundamentally human.


Dana Brotman has spent her artistic career conveying the power the face evokes. The face for her is a landscape of feeling, memory, and desire. Malcolm T. Liepke attributes to making his art that is both personal and universal. “I see a girl with her head a certain way, and I find it telling, emotional, and I want to communicate that certain truth,” the Minneapolis-based artist says. “That truth or emotion makes us feel less alone, more human. Everyone goes through life with their own problems, but we live in a pretty universal world. I’ve found that the more personal the piece, the more people connect with it.”


Art comes from life and higher than life.