Most of the preparation a commercial artist goes through is to learn to draw figures in costume with all the elements right. When a man takes up art as a hobby he is free to do what interests him most. Rut if it is his vocation, the costumed figure is his chicf stock in trade, the thing he depends upon most.
The effort put upon the study of light on form is brought into play. His knowledge of perspective in the figure and its environment is called upon. Light fulls on the costume too, the same light that falls on the head, The clothes should not only drape naturally and with folds characteristic of the material, but they should suggest the underlying form of the figure upon which they are draped.
In the drawings that follow, I have chosen costumes that are not present-day styles, since styles change so fast that even before the Iwok is published the clothes may bo wrong for the prevailing modes. Unless he is drawing a subject of an earlier period, the artist will have to keep up with styles, in order to keep his figures smart and up to date. So I have chosen costumes which are not limited as to material or style, but which present the same problems of folds and draping. As period costumes these will be used in definitely. For practice you can make pencil drawings of prevailing styles from the multitude of photographs in the fashion magazines and advertisements. Tlie important thing is to practice drawing garments on the figure, watching the lighting, the forms, and the perspective of the forms. In this kind of study I suggest eliminating most of the background, as in my studies, to keep the problem from becoming too complicated. There is enough in a good figure and costume in itself to make an attractive drawing. Sometimes a bit of shadow can be added effectively.
After you have made a number of costume studies, 1 suggest you find illustrations in magazines which show figures in a room, with some furniture or other accessories, Copying these is valuable practice, because they require perspective and proportion. If you have a camera, try taking subjects of your own for practice.
I should like to call attention to the infinite patience that Norman Rockwell shows in getting all parts of his pictures related and corrcct. Few artists will ever exhibit his fidelity to minutest details. There may be argument as to artistic approach, but the warm popularity of his work stands year in and year out as proof of what I have discussed as the intelligent perception of the public. I cannot believe that such work will not continue to be appreciated, no matter who the artist is, Work based on truth will live just as truth itself lives, all arguments to the contrary.
I wish also to mention the work of John Gannum- Here again is fidelity, expressed differently from Rockwell's, but no less sincere. Here is color, along with all the other elements of successful work, including the very important one, consistency. In the work of these two men so many important elements are always in evidence that every subject is one for study and appreciation. The layman says much when he looks at the work and says, "It is good; it looks real," He has no idea of the information needed and the ability required to make it look 'real," The artistic expression is only possible after the means of expression have been perfected. It is not a matter of technique, but of seeing things in relationship in plane, in tone and color, in proportion and perspective, and in light, IIow we put these things down does not matter so long as the results are right. Variations in technique come from individual ways of seeing and executing, but the problem itself is the same for all who ever hold a pencil or a brush. Real technique develops itself.
A Gallery of Drawings
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