Desert Daydreams, figurative oil painting by Damian Osborne, oil on board, 77 x 96 cm, 2015-figure painting
Desert Daydreams by Damian Osborne, oil on board, 77 x 96 cm. A large figurative oil painting I did in 2015.


Why I Love Realistic Figurative Paintings

by Damian Osborne


Realistic figurative painting has always fascinated me.

When I look back through my old art history books and remember which artists and paintings were my favourites as a young, budding artist, figurative oil paintings felt especially vivacious, expressive, inspirational and powerful.

And perhaps the genre of realistic figurative painting will always captivate me. For the language of the body speaks to us in an instinctive, primal way. As humans, we divine meanings and feelings through poses, postures and expressions that spoken words can not convey.

Perhaps it’s because we tend to imbue the human image with our own life force, just as God breathed life into the clay sculpture of Adam.


Available Figurative Oil Paintings. Click on an image to view.



To view all figure painting archives, go to Figure Paintings.



Is figurative painting gaining popularity?

Realistic figurative painting seems to be making a comeback in the ‘post-contemporary’ art scene.

Art dealers, curators, magazines, auction houses, galleries, art shows, social media, podcasts, blogs and other online platforms, are all featuring more and more of this rising trend in the art world.

I think that representational art, in general, is becoming more popular. For the past hundred years, non-objective, abstract or ‘contemporary’ art has been centre stage, and realism was out of favour.

But regardless of the resurgence of classical painting ateliers and academic-style artists who’ve joined the figurative movement, I have always loved the genre — whether trendy or old-fangled.


Figurative painting of the Renaissance — my earliest influences

One of the first paintings that ever truly inspired me, was while reading a book on Titian, and coming across the Venus of Urbino.

Her gaze still enchants me. Her nakedness seems somehow innocent, graceful and natural. I wonder what she is thinking about, looking at her soft dark eyes. You can read more about the proposed meaning of this painting on the Uffizi Gallery website


Venus of Urbino by Titian, 1538. 


Why do I paint the nude figure?

Somehow, I usually feel a kind of primal strength emanating from a nude figurative painting, whether the subject is male or female.

Perhaps it’s because we are so rarely confronted with the nude figure in daily life, that it’s quite amazing to be in the silent presence of a nude painting. Especially if the painting is life-sized.

The unashamed nakedness of the human form has such marvellous dignity and beauty. The human body is truly wonderous and inexplicable. 

There are many practical reasons why painting the nude is important for artists. Learning anatomy is of key importance when creating figurative art. 

For me, painting the figure is a quest for meaning that goes far beyond trying to make art that might be acceptable in the current academic circles.

I don’t care much for aping the monotonous academic style — although I appreciate the focus on anatomy and good drawing — nor would I ever allow myself to be constrained by what the art establishment dictates.

I paint the figure or the nude because it fascinates me.

Celebrating the marvels of the physical body; its beauty, structure, strength, frailty, sensuousness, balance, proportions, rhythms, etc, are necessary because it is the vehicle that carries our human emotions, portrays our moods and inner thoughts, expresses itself in ‘body language’, and contains our soul.

Painting the human form is important because art reminds us of our humanity.


Read more about my latest figurative painting series, The Sirens.


Selected past works. Click on an image to view.


Latest posts by Damian Osborne (see all)

2 thoughts on “Why I Love Realistic Figurative Paintings”

  1. Hi Damien,
    I have always wanted to start painting, and I’m just now getting started. Your insight has been invaluable to both my understanding and process. Thank you so very much for offering the world a glimpse of your talent and skill!

    1. Thanks very much Erin, I really appreciate your kind words. Please email me if you have any questions about painting. Otherwise, just keep painting. And enjoy it. That’s all that really matters. Some people never start or even try. Sorry if this is a late reply. I didn’t know I had issues with my website’s comment section.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.