Some of the art shown on this website contains frontal male nudity. Although these works are fine art, some people may find such imagery offensive. If you are one of these people, do not enter this website. Do not click on the button below unless you wish to view fine art which may contain frontal male nudity.


Douglas Simonson Talks about his Male Nude Art

Starting Out I have been drawing and painting the male nude for over 30 years. Although I came out as a gay man when I was 20, I didn't give myself permission to start doing nude male art until almost 10 years later. I began doing male nudes for myself, not for other gay men. I was happily surprised when my friends—most of them gay men—started buying my drawings and paintings of naked men. I couldn't believe I was making money selling naked art!

A Passion for Erotic Male Art To tell you the truth, it wasn't until I started doing male nudes that I felt I had something to say as an artist. I had always had a talent for drawing, but never quite knew what to do with it. Of course I didn't—I had to confront the fact that I was a gay man, and had to accept that I was attracted to men, in order to get to the point where I was able to openly become an artist who specialized in male nudes. Finally, I was able to accept myself, and that's when I started drawing my passion—the male figure. Male nudity became my theme and main subject. When drawing (or painting) a naked man, I finally felt I was fulfilling my purpose as an artist. That gave me a new sense of freedom and satisfaction. And I still feel that way.

"Do You Really Want to be Known for Making Gay Erotica?" Lots of friends doubted me when I began painting nude men. They wondered if I really wanted the name Douglas Simonson to be so identified with male nudity. Did I really want people to associate me with naked gay men? Did I want to be known for creating pictures of nude men? I've always been a rebellious type, so their questioning (and sometimes criticism) didn't stop me. It spurred me on. But I wasn't doing it just out of reaction, either. Almost as soon as I started painting and drawing male nudes, I felt a sense of rightness. As if this were what I was put here to do: create male nude art.

Is It Gay Male Erotica? Am I a gay artist? Is what I do gay art? Is it homoerotica? It seems to be a big question for many people. You could look at it several ways. Gay men buy my art, because gay men (surprise!) seem to enjoy seeing a man nude. And I'm a gay man creating art for gay men. So I guess you could call what I do gay art. But just painting a man nude doesn't make that painting gay art. A gallery filed with nude male paintings is not necessarily a gay gallery. Nude male art is not necessarily nude gay art. Do you see what I mean? It's not even about that. For me, the bottom line is, does the art move you? Does it grab you by the balls? If so, whether you're a gay male or not, I've done my job as an artist. Whether you consider me a gay artist or not.

Nude Art: It's an Awful Job, But Somebody Has to Do It Poor me! I make my living by seeing men nude. I get to watch while some of the most beautiful men in the world get naked for me. Whether it's a naked gay man or a naked straight man doesn't make much difference. I love seeing it. So it's only natural that, having a talent for capturing what I see on paper or canvas, I would enjoy taking that thing I love to see—male nudity—and creating art from it. Additionally, I think contemporary culture has a fear of the male nude, and I like to confront that. I believe that by putting more nude male paintings out there, people will get more used to them and less afraid of them. The naked male body is a beautiful thing. Why not look at it? The world needs more nude men! And more nude men paintings too!

What Kind of Male Nudes Do I Prefer to Paint? I prefer to paint young, fit, athletic male nudez, but they don't have to be muscular men. And they can be Caucasian, Asian, African-American, Hispanic, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Hawaiian, Micronesian, blond, brunette, light-skinned or dark. They can be naked surfers or naked construction workers or naked gay men or naked straight men. What I'm interested in is this: does looking at this naked man make my heart beat faster? If so, that's model material. That's a man I want to paint. And by the way, he doesn't have to be gay. I'm not necessarily making gay male paintings—I'm making male paintings.

Is Every Naked Man Painting Erotic Art? To tell the truth, I don't think very much of my art is erotic art. As far as I understand it, homoerotica, or gay erotica, or whatever kind of erotica you're talking about, has as its purpose causing sexual excitement in the viewer. Just because a painting is depicting a man naked doesn't mean that painting is sexual. If the viewer is so easily triggered that even the sight of a naked man in a work of art gets him (or her) sexually excited, then the fact of his or her sexual excitement is not about the art, it's about the viewer's background. I hope, in contemporary Western society, that the majority of viewers of art can distinguish between a painting or drawing of a man who happens to be nude, and a painting or drawing that has a specifically sexual content and whose intention is to provoke sexual excitement. That's not the case with most of my male nudes. Most of my male nude art is not so much sexual as sensual. It's not about causing sexual excitement so much as about giving the viewer an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the male body.

Why So Much Frontal Nudity? Not a hard question to answer. I like the way a naked man looks from the front. I like the shape of everything there—the way the torso joins the hips, the beauty of a powerful chest with protruding nipples, the ripples of a well-developed set of abdominals, the way the trail of hair begins at the navel and moves down toward the crotch, and oh yes, the beauty and individuality of every set of genitalia. The way the penis hangs over the balls, the way it swings when he walks, the way it changes moods as the naked man changes moods. Not that I don't like painting and drawing buttocks as well. But a frontal nude is more powerful. And I like bold, I like strong, I like powerful. That's why so much frontal nudity!

I Paint Other Things, Too—Not Just Male Nudes! Believe it or not, I paint subject matter other than just male art. I do landscapes, both realistic and stylized. (I've painted many scenes of Hawaii, and because I travel quite a bit, I've also done landscapes of Brazil, France, Samoa, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mexico, Southern Africa, and many other places.) I also create abstract paintings. And non-nude male figures. Like paintings of shirtless men. Men in underwear. Men in speedos. Men with clothes on! A painting of a clothed man can still be sensual male art. I love painting the male nude, and I love seeing men naked, but I also love a beautiful landscape. Even when there's not a naked man in it!

Gay Naked Men or Straight Naked Men? I'm often asked, "Are your nude models straight or gay?" The answer is, both gay and straight men model nude for me. I find my models everywhere, on the beach, at the gym, in clubs and bars, at bus stops—wherever. When I see a potential model, I don't ask myself, Is he a gay man? Is he a straight man? I ask myself, will he look great naked? And when I'm working from a model, it's not even important to me. I don't paint a naked gay man or a naked straight man, I paint a naked man. I don't paint naked gay men or naked heterosexual men, I paint naked men. What I present with my gallery is not a gay men gallery, or a straight men gallery, it's a gallery of nude men.

What Kinds of Media Do You Use? Do you Have Prints or Posters? I usually paint in acrylic. My drawings are done in pencil. I use both canvas and paper (one of the beauties of using acrylic paints is that you can paint on paper as well as canvas). Many of my original works have been turned into prints and posters, and these are very reasonably priced. I even have a line of MiniPosters that start at just $29 each.

Do you Work from Life or Photographs? I'm practical. I don't want to deal with having a model come to my studio every time I want to draw. I prefer shooting photographs of my models, then working from the photographs at my leisure. There are other reasons, too: given that I like painting models in landscapes, photography is really the only option. Posing a naked man on a beach is not always an easy thing to set up—and having to do that every time you want to work on a painting would be totally unworkable. There are other advantages, too. For instance, photographs don't move! They can hold a pose forever. And the light doesn't change while you're painting. There's one other big factor: I really do love photography and I enjoy shooting photographs. For me, that's the first step in creating the drawing or painting—shooting the photograph.

Do You Ever Show Your Rough Sketches? Most artists do rough sketches, as practice and to work out ideas prior to doing a larger, more finished work. I do this too, and for years threw away most of my sketches, but kept a few I really liked. Those I kept in a portfolio in a corner of my studio, and didn't show to anyone except a few close friends and other artists. Some of the people I showed them to really liked them, and thought I should show them to more people. It took me awhile to get used to the idea, but I decided to start showing some of my rough sketches. To my surprise, they quickly became very popular. For one thing, they're very reasonably priced—some are as low as $50. For another, they're original works, not prints or posters. And they often have an energy and spontaneity that is hard to capture in a more finished work. Sketches allow you a peek inside the creative process, and they're a very good (and inexpensive) way to start, or add to, a collection.

Do You Have a Regular Gallery? No, I don't. I no longer show my work in galleries, because I prefer exhibiting it and selling it online. Also, I live in Honolulu (in Waikiki), far from the great majority of Simonson collectors. Because I do not show in galleries, I sell almost all of my art online, via the website. I do not usually show my work in person, and I do not have a gallery per se. Occasionally, though, collectors come to Hawaii and want to see some of the art in person. Though I don't have a gallery, I do have an office where my artwork is stored. Visits to this office/warehouse are possible, if arranged in advance. Since the art is stored and not displayed as in a gallery, it's helpful if you bring with you a list of particular works you would like to see.

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