Small Children

Let us understand that no branch of art can be reduced completely to a formula without endangering the very art that must go into it. We do, of course, seek ways and means to an end, and that end is correctness. Art, however, is not the justification of correctness. Art is not always perfection. Ixit us say that art is truly a form of expression, and full expression cannot be limited by formula, but only guided toward greater meaning and truth. African sculpture has expression and becausc of that it is art. It is certainly not truth as we know it, but it may be truth with a greater meaning as they know it. We may reach greater truth by simplification and even by subordinating minor truth. Detail may be minor truth but without real significance. Each hair in an eyebrow is detail and minor truth, but carries little significance. Each blade of grass is detail, but we may be more interested in the whole hillside and the effect of sunlight on it.

In drawing children, let us be guided as much by our feeling toward them as by rules of construction and anatomy. The light on a child's hair may be just as beautiful and intriguing as the light 011 the hillside. The glint of mischief in the eye of a young boy may really be what we are drawing, more than the perfect anatomical construction of that eye.

It is easy to become so absorbed in technicalities that we miss the purpose. The technical must be united to the spiritual, bccause technique without spirit is meaningless. But feeling cannot be conveyed without technique and the knowledge behind technique.

Every area of every drawing, painting, or any other expression of form should l>e a part of a whole design. The lights and shadows, the edges, the textures and materials may all be considered as much from the standpoint of design and arrangement as for any other quality. In drawing heads, the pattern of the hair, the shadows cast from the head, and the bit of clothing all offer opportunity for design. The lights and shadows on the face itself create design, good or bad, whether we are conscious of it or not. The whole head is a design of forms fitted together. and it is a masterpiece of design, functionally as well as artistically.

I speak of all this so that we may approach our subject with humility and appreciation of its wonders. To me there is nothing more beautiful or wonderful in the world than the head of a small child. Life has left no scars, 110 lines of anxiety and frustration; it is the new flower emanating from the bud, fresh and as yet almost untouched.

If children do not move you, it is perhaps a mistake to try to draw them. You cannot draw them effectively from too great an emotional distance. When joy goes out of your work, it is apt to bog down in pure technicality.

It happens that much of my own work has been concerned with drawing children, and the more I do it, the more I find to enjoy in it. I feel that there is a mountain of fascinating truth of which I have barely scratched the surface, and this comes after drawing and painting perhaps thousands of heads of adults. Drawing children has a vast and relatively unexploited commercial market. We need more drawings of children and fewer photographs, both in advertising and on our walls. The fact that children cannot sit still need not discourage you. You can trace from photographs and still raise the quality of your rendering beyond the purely photographic detail to a more artistic expression.

Head For Children Drawing

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