“A week without figure drawing is a week not lived…” – Artist Stephanie Gude puts (nude) models on canvas in a split second. With intense and striking colors, Gude recreates the human body with all its perfections and flaws. This week we are showing her work in MASTERS GALLERY. Text: Mical Joseph
Image: JW Kaldenbach

less is more

“The nude models are generally modern dancers and body artists who come from all over the world. Some come and go and others stay longer and settle in the capital. You become attached to a model. During the drawing sessions they tell you their life story and unknowingly share their emotions with you. Behind your easel you feel this in detail and try to immortalize that emotion on paper. The poses only last three to five minutes on average and the extremely vibrant energy that hangs in the studio at that moment makes me realize all the more how important non-verbal communication is; the creation of harmony, silence and concentration between the model and the artist. At that moment, life is connected to everything and therefore seems almost infinite. In that short time I capture the essence and story behind their pose. I do this with ink and acrylic paint and put it on straight away without sketching first.”

Life stages, periods and changes

“This time I am showing fairly quiet work, from before Corona. Maybe it has to do with the times we live in at the moment. In my case it may sound a bit strange since I am quite extroverted, but the intelligent lockdown has done me good in that respect. Finally, after years, I had to appeal to my introverted self and I was happy to rediscover this side of myself. In the early days of the crisis, I was challenged to make self-portraits via a group app. I kept this up for a month and a half. When the streets became busier again and people around me became more restless, I lost my concentration. On King's Day I locked myself inside for another afternoon no time painted a portrait of my daughter. A bull's eye, I was immediately satisfied with the end result. In short, a victory in these turbulent times.

Over the years I have developed by letting go of the continuous study of the body. I take the standard proportions of the body out of context and thereby suggest that I have everything under control. And in a way, so do I. This is incredibly liberating. I also really like the discrepancy between beautiful and ugly. To be honest, I don't like perfection. It may chafe a bit.”


“In addition to figure drawing, I have also been painting portraits every now and then for a few years now. I started with family portraits and currently I focus specifically on father-daughter relationships and mother-daughter relationships. I notice that I want to continue with this to discover who I am and where I come from, and then in the spiritual sense. It's really fantastic, but without making this very difficult, it's also emotional because I don't always finish the work. Fortunately, it doesn't bother me and I enjoy looking at my unfinished work.

I painted this portrait of my mother in an hour and a half, and was quite satisfied. But there was still something missing in the character of her face. From September last year until early January I looked at it and then I saw it: all I had to do was create a curved line from the left of her mouth to the jaw. The portrait was finished in a few seconds. That was a special moment: drawing or painting does not have to be finished in a few minutes, patience and keeping a close eye is a beautiful and educational thing. And this is in contrast to figure drawing, where you have to unconsciously make many decisions in just a few minutes.”