As in her early Sex Paintings and Erotic Series, color serves to distinguish Semmel’s nude figures from the realm of pornography. When she does depict figures in naturalistic color, Semmel crops the composition so closely as to abstract the body to the point that it reads as landscape. In Side Light (2020), Semmel employs various types of brushwork to distinguish between textures and to collapse the compositional space. The sunlight which floods the artist's studio casts a pale-yellow glow against her skin, contrasting deep violet tones in shadowed areas, the effect of which critic Johanna Fateman has described as "passages of smoldering chiaroscuro." Semmel considers the unifying element throughout her body of work "a single perspective: being inside the experience of femaleness and taking possession of it culturally." Her work over the last half-century firmly situates the female body as a place for autonomy and a vehicle to challenge the objectification and fetishization of female sexuality and the invisibility of the aging female body.