Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Saturday, July 26, 2008

People for the Protection of Fig Trees (PPFT)

Did You Know There Was Nudity In Art?

Back in August 2001 I started a group on YAHOO! Groups called "Photos for Figure Drawing"*. The first message entered was:

Welcome to the Yahoo! Message Board for Photos for Figure Drawing.

Aug 23, 2001
2:31 am

I had been setting things up and pondering things like the name for quite a while and I am a bit of a night owl (insomniac) at heart anyway.

The whole point of the group was to put together an album of pictures that artists could use to draw or paint from. While it is very easy to find erotica and pornographic images on the Internet -- in fact you have to put up filters to avoid it -- finding decent images to draw an paint from might be a challenge if you really don't want to look at inappropriate content.

I had in art classes more than one time heard drawing instructors say that it was easy to find images of naked women in reclining and passive postures in magazines to use to draw from, but very difficult to find active useful poses that artists could use. I wanted to do more than just have pictures of naked women.

I guess this came up because I was wanting to draw pictures with men and women in them and I really had little experience drawing men. Looking for pictures of men kept flinging me to Gay sites with things I really did not want to see. I could only imagine that others felt that way even about seeking out images of women. So I worked putting together my own personal image collection to work from. I realized that putting together a group might be useful to others. I also might not have to do all the work and we might even get some models to actually pose for the images on a voluntary basis.

Now of course I often also looked for just the right clothed pose to work from too so it would not simply be a nude image gallery. In fact an image of someone in a swimsuit or leotard often would work just as good depending on the effect. Actually for many final products you really want someone posing in the appropriate supporting undergarment even if you are creating and drawing in the costume.

Probably nothing will beat having an actual model to pose for you and a large wardrobe to use as well complete with props and adjustable lighting. I think that many amateur artists -- espeically shy ones -- working from home quietly will never have that option.

So I created my group.

I placed the group in an appropriate location in "Drawing and Sketching Groups":

Top > Entertainment & Arts > Fine Arts > Visual Arts > Drawing and Sketching

Then I started adding what images I could trying to stick to images that were fairly available online and useful. I broke them down into categories so that someone could find an album with men-standing-clothed and go through those images when that was what they were looking for.

Then I worried about getting members, because without members the group was pointless. I went to a few other art groups and asked permission to advertise my group and included it on my signature and slowly I gained a membership. Eventually after a point the membership became large enough that it attracted its own members -- when you go looking in the categories the groups with the most members are listed first.

Eventually we had over 2000 members before I started weeding out some of the "dead" accounts. Those were accounts where the messages going to their emails were coming back with messages saying those accounts no longer existed. Those are "hard bouncing" accounts. There is also a category for messages that bounce back with a message like the mailbox is full or temporarily unavailable and that is considered "soft bouncing". I thought it was pretty cool that we had over 1000 members... It did take a number of years though, perhaps 3 as I think it was in April of 2005 that we got a disastrous notice for our group and its growth.

We had been in the top one or two groups in the area we were in for a fair while and all of a sudden we were no longer in "Drawing and Sketching Groups"! We had been moved to:

Top > Romance & Relationships > Adult

That is the area for sub groups such as Crossdressing, Electro Stimulation, Porn Stars, and other such groups... The reason? "Nudity".

Although we had been online in YAHOO! Groups from August 2001 until April 2005 without any issues -- with photos in the albums including nudity -- we were bounced. Perhaps that might not be too bad except now nobody could find us unless they already knew where we were. That was because we were no longer listed in the Drawing and Sketching area where someone looking for such resources might look. Even if they were to do a search for us we did not show up, or very rarely, and I find other groups that have been around a year or two about figure drawing and drawing the nude.

I had always been diligent to remove any photos that might be offensive. I used a fairly broad brush. I considered what nudes I might even have found in my High School library. There were nude pictures there in the form of National Geographic and Photography magazines as well as in books on photography and art. I took into account the sorts of poses that might be in those publications. Granted I was educated in Canada and not the USA and I have come to learn we are much more liberal when it comes to nudity -- conversely we don't care for quite so much violence. (as in censoring movies for prime-time TV) However! I also listened to any private or public complaint and erred on the side of caution. If one person spoke up as being uncomfortable, it probably meant that there were many who did not speak up and I balanced that with the value of the image. Normally the value was not so great.

There were occasions where a person joined and complained about there being any nudity at all -- especially male nudity or frontal female nudity between navel and knee. I did have to draw the line there and would inform the person that there were many warnings that there was nudity in the albums and files. I also mentioned the guidelines being those of National Geographic and Photography Magazines available in public High School I attended in Canada and that her complaint was noted. I also mentioned that the over 1000 other members in the group were not complaining.

However since then the group has really slowed down. There has been very slow growth with little in the manner of posting of message or image. At one time we had models posting modest collections of images of themselves and we had biweekly projects where a pose was chosen and people encouraged to interpret it.

The title graphic for the group is shown here (image to the left -- image from Photos for Figure Drawing*) although I faded it to near non-existence because. Google -- and hence Blogger -- has a policy against nudity. I figure the female torso qualifies. If you wish to see the picture you'll have to go to Photos for Figure Drawing*. Even though it is artwork I have a feeling that Google, like YAHOO! would shoot first and ask questions later not realizing that these were paintings and sketches and the project of an art studio essentially. This montage was the result of one of the drawing projects where we took a pose and members interpreted it. There is even one painting by yours truly.

Currently I am wanting to resurrect the group with it's over 1600 members. Even if only 100 are still active it would be worthwhile. My plan is to open a new group just as a gateway to lead to the actual group. It will be in the Drawing and Sketching area and will be only for minimal discussion or posting of images. Nothing with any nudity of course.

Perhaps I am odd, but I do not see anything wrong in there being art groups with some nudity. Even if they were moved behind an adult screen on YAHOO! Groups that would be okay, but they shouldn't be lumped with the erotica, porn, and alternate lifestyles. I can see there being limits here on Blogger too, but there has been nudity in artwork that has been acceptable in many museums so I figure the smaller than postage stamp sized images on the graphic are okay? Or should I put fig leaves on the paintings and sketches too?

~ Darrell


* ---> Warning <---, the links to Photos for Figure Drawing will take you to an "Adult" area of YAHOO! Groups. The Group itself has pictures with nudity in it and there are pictures with the naughty bits showing, but there are no graphic depictions of sex or violence in the group's site. The link "should" take you first to YAHOO!'s warning page in any case telling you that you are going to an adult area of YAHOO! Groups and confirming you wish to go there. I am not sure of the age confirmation they are using at the moment. At one point you needed to have a profile posted with them that included your age and that included a statement that it was your age. The link to Photos for Figure Drawing.

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