I have been attempting to capture the nude form, and for me more importantly, the female nude form since my mid teens. Initially I was quite open about it. The female nude was and is the most challenging and rewarding of subjects. My studies of classical and renaissance artists showed that there was no painting more compelling and more beautiful than a well executed life painting. Similarly later artists like Renoir and Munch showed other ways of depicting the nude that were just as beautiful and captivating. Sadly though I soon learned that the general public have a different view of the nude and seem to consider that such painting is relegated to the halls of national museums and art books. The comments people made were, and are, generally ill thought out pre-conceived ideas based on a lack of knowledge and perhaps some guilt or shame they feel viewing a human body.
Like any endeavour, to be good at something you have to practise. It follows then that to be good at life drawing you have to practise. This means drawing and painting many nudes to learn from your mistakes and to improve incrementally. It also means however having to put up with those rediculous comments about your painting or about yourself. I knew a female artist who had painted a mermaid, the mermaid of course had breasts and she hung it in her lounge. Visitors to the home could only ever comment on the breasts without regard to the painting. So exasperated did she eventually become that she took the painting down and painted shells over the breasts.
In my first solo exhibition I had about 20 paintings of which only 7 were life figures. However the exhibition was noted only for the bare breasts and little else. One painting was even removed by the curator after a single complaint from the public. It was taken down without my knowledge or consent and only returned after a lengthy explanation from myself. Some people told me their family members or friends did not go in because there were breasts.
Be prepared also to battle your partners when it comes to life drawing and painting. Some past and memorable comments have been "Now you have me you don't need to paint these (life paintings) anymore." or "When we're married I don't want you painting nudes." or "Nudes is not art."
Be prepared then to understand that the challenge of life painting and drawing extends far beyond the surface of the canvas in ways landscape or abstract painting does not. You must learn to grow a thick skin and be undetered by other's ideology if your goal is to master the nude.