Again the author gives his own interpretations ; this time of ideal types preferred by artists of different periods. The first is an Egyptian head of about 1350 B.C.
Here is a dangerous and controversial subject, especially Jeminine Beauty. Nevertheless, it should be considered.
It is not enough to go on drawing the model blindly and aimlessly, though it is true that the constant practice of figure drawing is necessary to an artist. The mere copying of a model is, however, not the end of your troubles ; moreover it is not really true to say that anyone '' copies '' a model exactly. When you look at twenty drawings of the same model by twenty different artists none of the versions will look alike because no two artists look at the model in exactly the same way. Their version is conditioned by their mind and this influences, subconsciously perhaps, their rendering of the subject. It is not a bad thing ; this difference of outlook makes artists' work interesting and gives it a human quality which a photograph lacks.
When an artist, however sincerely, studies his model he is biased — in one direction or another — by many things : his convictions or standards of taste, his aspirations, technical ability, the quality of his eyesight, all kinds of stresses are at work. Though there may be fairly general agreement as to what constitutes a beautiful woman, it does not follow that there is complete unanimity in all details. Not all artists who draw the female figure are trying to draw a beautiful woman, they may be interested more in the beauty of light and shade or the angles of one plane against another. Others, maybe, don't do so because they can't or because their opinion of what constitutes beauty is quite different from that of other people.
It does not necessarily mean that because you try to make your drawing of an attractive model look attractive that she should have an air of insipid sweetness or that she has got to look as sexy and provocative as some movie posters. If the model is attractive then there seems to me no reason why you should not try to show this, but some artists will deliberately avoid anything attractive in their drawing of her because they think it will be considered "inartistic." It may be, of course, that they don't consider she is attractive and this is a matter in which opinions differ.
To me, it seems essential that you should soon begin to establish a conception of beauty in your own mind which will give you a standard of comparison. You should try
to decide just what you are aiming at beyond the elementary attempt to record the dry facts without any emotion whatever. It is, in any case, a delusion to think that you can draw without emotion of some sort or another. Whether you like it or not, you will have a bias in some direction, even if it is an attempt to have no bias at all !
To realize what your objectives and your standards of beauty are will be a great help to you. For instance, my own personal bias is towards tall graceful figures, not too voluptuous, and faces with well defined bone structure. This does not mean, however, that, if I were drawing a model without these characteristics, I would endeavour to endow her with them. She might have another type of beauty, which it would be equally interesting to try to discover and get on paper.
In the name of stark realism some artists make everything look as unattractive as possible, but this is not realism when the truth is that in reality the model is very attractive.
You should, therefore, decide that, since the artist is a human being and not a machine, your emotions are bound to sway your interpretation. Try to be clear in your mind what your purpose is in drawing the model and what are your standards of beauty.
It should be emphasized that this doesn't mean the creating of a type which you impose on all your drawings regardless of the model in front of you. There are many types of beauty, all different and all equally beautiful. Compare, for instance, the varying types of film stars — the sultry Italian types, blonde Scandinavians or lanky Americans.
. . . These are only generalized types ; you have only to walk down the main street of any city to see many attractive types ; perhaps a few really beautiful ones. Some others, charming for some individual characteristic, and some who, though ugly in reality, have a beauty when seen from some particular angle and in a certain light. It isn't necessarily only the film stars who are beautiful.
It should be your objective to bring out in your drawing the particular charm or beauty that you have dicovered in your model. I can see nothing in this that need conflict with art or good taste, nor need you try to create a type of your own regardless of the model before you. The dividing line between a characterless prettiness and the individual beauty you are trying to depict is very difficult to define, but you must learn to do so.
One way to help with this problem is to analyze the different proportions and characteristics that make up what, in your opinion, constitutes beauty. What is it that makes this or that actress beautiful ? Why does that girl on the beach seem so lovely ? Don't merely say to yourself that she is lovely, ask why is she lovely. Look through
books of drawings or photographs and analyze the qualities that make the effect of beauty. Is it the way a head is set on the neck, the particular carriage of the body, the graceful pose ? — all may contribute, and the reason should be understood.
Unless you deliberately look for these things you will not perhaps realize what apparently intangible quality it was that attracted you and which you might wish to capture in your drawing. Novelists can write about intangible beauty and dream-like qualities but an artist has to be more practical about it and set down these effects with the intractable and often exasperatingly crude implements at his disposal.
There is a story concerning beauty about Leonardo da Vinci. A crowd of courtiers and artists surrounded a piece of Greek sculpture which had just been excavated, and were all exclaiming and admiring it in a very highbrow manner. Leonardo said nothing,
but, producing a tape measure, proceeded to take exact measurements of the statue in order to find out how the effects had been obtained. Something of that attitude towards beauty can be of use to you too, though it may be difficult to be quite so aggravatingly unemotional about it as da Vinci was.
Late lgth Century, after the manner of Dana Gibson.
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