Like Joan Semmel’s series of Sex Paintings (1971), the Erotic Series (1972) portrays intimate encounters that emphasize a female-informed approach to sexuality. However, the series marks an evolution in Semmel’s practice. To create these expansive compositions, Semmel used photographs instead of sketches—an approach she continues to use in her paintings today. As Semmel writes, “The shift from drawing into photography was a significant departure for me. At the time, the use of photography by a painter was considered not quite legitimate. I appropriated the modeled form and smooth surface of the closely cropped photograph into my paintings which tended tp push the image out from the picture plane into the viewer’s space, and retained abstract color as a primary element in the work.” For Semmel, using expressive hues to describe her forms was a means of distinguishing her images from pornography.