Male Nude Painting of Marcus: Paddler


After doing a fairly flat, stylized painting (Tropical City), I was in the mood for something more loose and painterly. I decided to unleash my creative forces on Marcus, my favorite Brazilian model. I found a great image from my 2nd photo shoot with him in Angra dos Reis. We (myself, 5 of my friends from Hawaii and California, my Brazilian agent Luiz, and two models, Marcus and Sandro) had chartered a boat in Angra, and set out to find a deserted island. When we found it, we unloaded Marcus and Sandro on the beach. One of the things Marcus was doing once we got onto the beach was playing around with one of the oars he’d used to row us over from the big boat. I love this shot of him standing on the beach holding the oar.

First thing I did, as usual, was go into Photoshop to tweak the photograph and make it easier to paint from. The first step was using Levels to heighten the contrast (which also intensifies the colors). This lost a lot of the detail in the foliage inside the shadows, which was fine with me—less stuff to paint, plus less distraction from the model in the final work.


Next I used Median to soften all the edges. This helps keep me from getting too interested in detail, almost all of which is unnecessary in the type of painting I was going for here. Finally, I used Posterize to cut down the total number of colors and tones in the image. This makes it a lot easier to decide what colors to mix and where to put them. It’s almost like having a paint-by-number diagram. Well, almost.

Next I printed out all the various tweaks of the image so I’d have reference images to work from while painting. At that point it was time to cut out a piece of canvas and tack it up onto my big drawing board (actually it’s an oversize bulletin board, which works perfectly). Then I transferred the image onto the canvas with pencil and covered it all with a purplish-brown wash—my usual procedure. (You probably can’t see it in the images below, but enough of the underdrawing is visible that I have a guide to all the major color areas of the painting.)


Using the same approach as I used in the previous painting—mixing just two or three colors and then trying them out before going ahead and mixing all the colors I’d use in the whole painting—I mixed some greens and started painting them in. I got a little carried away and took the foliage in the upper left to a high level of finish, but caught myself and began filling in the background. At that point I started mixing some browns and oranges for the fleshtones and began applying them.

At that point it was time to stop for the day. I usually do my best painting work in the mornings, so I stopped and began again the next morning. I used browns and cadmium reds/oranges for most of the body. For the highlights on the body I tried a bit of yellow in the white (see light on Marcus’ back on left-hand image above) but found that a cooler white worked better. Like the previous painting, Tropical City, this was a figure mostly in shadow with some highlights on the upper part of the body. That means the reflected light inside the shadowed part of the body is important. In this case I used some intense cadmium red in some places, cadmium orange in others, for the lightest reflected lights. Not all of the lights and darks make sense anatomically but they work overall so that’s okay with me. Once I had the body mostly done I added the rest of the foliage in the upper right and began painting in the beach area.


The beach area went pretty fast and next thing I knew the painting was finished! I like that I didn’t get too caught up in detail on this one. It’s loose and has some spontaneity. I also like that the mix-paint-as-you-go principle I experimented with on the previous painting worked pretty well with this one too. Title: “Paddler.”




If you want to see more uncensored shots from all of my photo shoots with Marcus, you can do so by visiting my E-Bookstore and downloading my e-book O Gato: The Amazing Marcus, with 260 pages of artwork and uncensored photographs featuring my favorite Brazilian. You can also order it on CD.


0 replies on “Male Nude Painting of Marcus: Paddler

  • John G

    Dear Douglas, I like all things Marcus as you know. After reading about your procedure and having said I like all things Marcus – I have to mention I’m a bit disappointed at the lack of detail and softening of tones. Marcus seems to have “filled out” a bit since the work I purchased and softening the edges appears to me to be anathema to any controllable aspect of a finished work. Especially when taking from a photograph to a painting. There’s enough lost in the translation as it stands. I’ve yet to see someone who with a great photo can take it and make it more detailed than in the original medium unless we are talking about impressionism such as the works of Monet, Manet and Degas. I expect softening and blending until I backup and see the detail with which they’d captured their quarry. Having said all this, I don’t have your background in art and this is why this is only my humble opinion of the work at hand. None the less and notwithstanding my lack of direct application, I know what I like. With the techniques you described you used on this particular work I got a feeling of taking the easy way out or using shortcuts just to get the work over with. It’s also impossible to tell what he has in his hand so it’s fortunate you named the portrait after the innocuous “what is it?” so one could understand, otherwise it would never be known. I’m sorry if this sounds negative, if for no other reason than I do like your portrayals of Marcus in most all forms. However, in this instance, he didn’t come out with the usual “joi de vie” or the solemness that seem to emanate from him and captured by you so fully as to that which you’ve done in the past –

    again, all IMHO ~~ John G

  • Arnold

    Hi, Douglas. Really love the way your compose your work, and the selection of models. BTW, have you considered doing some photography or artwork with Thai athletes or bodybuilders as subjects? I think they really resonate with the theme and “the look” of the models you choose.

  • G Swaminathan

    Yes…Douglas, your paintings are always have explained how you worked on this also..nice..keep doing it on some special works you do..


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