Joanne Beaule Ruggles

Empathy Required

If you have any hope of creating profoundly true figure artworks, you must bring your heart to the task. When an artist works from a nude model, our subject is made vulnerable by the act of disrobing. At that point, it is an “uneven transaction” between two humans. The observer remains protected while the observed individual is not.

Decades of figure work have taught me that you must make yourself equally vulnerable, if the transaction is to be equal. I do not propose that you must take off your clothes, but you must make yourself emotionally naked. You must connect with the model’s emotions, you must feel the model’s pain in holding that pose, and you must open your heart to them as a fellow human being.

If you are willing to expose your inner self, the artistic reward is great. If you are unable or unwilling to do that, I suggest you switch to a subject that does not demand it of you.