mula, but it has not been in books. It is really plain old courage, standing on one's own feet, and forever seeking enlightenment; courage to develop your way, but learning from the other fellow; experimentation with your own ideas, observing for yourself, a rigid discipline of doing over that which you can improve. I have never found a book that stressed the importance of myself as the caretaker of my ability, of staying healthy mentally and physically, or that gave me an inkling that my courage might be strained to the utmost. Perhaps that is not the way to write books, but I can sec no harm in the author realizing that he is dealing with personalities, and that there is something more important than technique. In art we are dealing with something far removed from a cold science, where the human element is everything. At least I am determined to established a fellowship with my reader, welcoming him to the craft at which I have spent so many years. If I have any blue chips I can pass on to him, I lay them before him so that he may join in the game. I cannot profess to know more than the experience of one individual. However, one individual experience if wide enough might well cover many of the problems that will doubtless come to others. Solutions of those problems may provide like solutions. I can lay out an assortment of facts and fundamentals that were helpful to me. I can speak of the idealizations, the practical hints and devices that will undoubtedly make drawings more salable. Sincc the requirements arc almost universal, and since my own experience does not vary greatly from the average experience of my contemporaries, 1 offer my material without setting up myself and my work as a criterion. In fact, 1 would prefer, if it were possible, to subordinate my own viewpoint, or technical approach, and leave the reader as free as possible for individual decision and self-expression. 1 use my experience merely to clarify the general requirements.
It should be obvious that, first of all, salable figure drawing must be good drawing, and "good drawing" means a great deal more to the professional than to the beginner. It means that a figure must be convincing and appealing at the same time. It must be of idealistic rather than literal or normal proportion. It must be related in perspective to a constant eye level or viewpoint. The anatomy must be correct, whether exposed to the eye or concealed beneath drapery or costume. The light and shadow must be so handled as to impart a living quality. Its action or gesture, its dramatic quality, expression, and emotion must be convincing. Good drawing is neither an accident nor the result of an inspired moment when the Muses lend a guiding hand. Good drawing is a co-ordination of many factors, all understood and handled expertly, as in a delicate surgical operation. Let us say that each factor becomes an instrument or part of a means of expression. It is when the means of expression is developed as a whole that inspiration and individual feeling come into play. It is possible for anybody to be "off" at any time in any one or more of the factors. Every artist will do "good ones" and "bad ones." The bad will have to be thrown out and done over. The artist should, of course, make a critical analysis to determine why a drawing is bad; usually he will be forced to go back to fundamentals, for bad drawing springs from basic faults as surely as good drawing springs from basic merits.
Therefore a useful book of figure drawing cannot treat one phase alone, as the study of anatomy; it must also seek out and co-ordinate all the basic factors upon which good drawing depends. It must consider both aesthetics and sales possibilities, technical rendering and typical problems to be solved. Otherwise the reader is only partially informed; he is taught but one angle, and then left to flounder.
May I assume that you as a young artist are facing a bread-and-butter problem? Whenever you achieve sufficient technical ability, there will be an income waiting for you. From that point on your earnings will increase in ratio to your improvement. In the fields of practical art the ranks thin out at the top, just as they do everywhere else. There is not an advertising agency, a magazine publisher, a lithograph house, or an art dealer's that will not gladly open its doors to real ability that is new and different. It is mediocrity to which the door is closed. Unfortunately most of us are mediocre when we start out; by and large, most commercial artists of outstanding ability had no more than average talent at the start.
May I confess that two weeks after entering art school, I was advised to go back home? That experience has made me much more tolerant of an inauspicious beginning than I might otherwise have been, and it has given me additional incentive in teaching.
Individuality of expression is, without question, an artist's most valuable asset. You could make no more fatal error than to attempt to duplicate, for the sake of duplication alone, either my work or that of any other individual. Use another's style as a crutch only—until you can walk alone. Trends of popularity are as changeable as the weather. Anatomy, perspective, values remain constant; but you must diligently search for new ways to apply them. The greatest problem here is to provide you with a solid basis that will nurture individuality and not produce imitation. I grant that a certain amount of imitation in the earliest phase of learning may be necessary in order that self-expression may have an essential background. But there can be no progress in any art or craft without an accumulation of individual experience. The experience comes best through your own effort or observation, through self-instruction, the reading of a book, or the study of an old master. These experiences are bundled together to form your working knowledge, and the process should never stop. New, creative ideas are usually variants of the old.
In this volume I shall try to treat the figure as a living thing, its power of movement related to its structure and its movement separated into several kinds. We shall draw the nude for the purpose of better understanding the draped figure. We shall think of the figure as possessed of bulk and weight, as being exposed to light and therefore shadow, and hence set into space as we know it. Then we shall try to understand light for what it is; and how form, with its planes of various direction, is affected by it. We shall consider the head and its structure separately. In other words, we shall provide a foundation that will enable you to make your figures original and convincing. The interpretation, the type, the pose, the drama, the costume, and the accessories will all be yours. Whether your figures are drawn for an advertisement, to illustrate a story, or for a poster or a calendar will not change appreciably the fundamental demands upon your knowledge. Technique is not so important as the young artist is inclined to believe; the living and emotional qualities— the idealization you put into your work—are far more important. So are your selection and taste in costume and setting—provided you have mastered fundamentals. The smartest dress in the world will not be effective on a badly drawn figure. Expression or emotion cannot possibly be drawn into a face that is poorly constructed. You cannot paint in color successfully without some conception of light and color values, or even hope to build a composition of figures until you know how to draw them in absolute perspective. Your job is to glorify and idealize the everyday material about you.
It is my purpose from start to finish of this book to lend you a hand to the top of the hill, but upon reaching the crest to push you over and leave you to your own momentum. I have hired and paid the best models I could find, knowing that the limited funds of the average young artist, would not permit that. If you study my drawings in the light of a model posing for you, rather than thinking of them as something to be duplicated line for line and tone for tone, I think you will in the end derive greater benefit. With every page I suggest you place your pad at the side of the book. Try to get the meaning behind the drawing much more than die drawing itself. Keep your pencil as busy as possible. Try figures varying as much as possible from those in my pages. Set up figures roughly, from the imagination, make them do all sorts of actions. If it is possible to draw from the live model in school or
elsewhere, do so by all means, utilizing as best you can the fundamentals we have here. If you can take photos or have access to them, try your skill in drawing from them, adding what idealization you think should be there.
It might be a good plan to read the entire book at the start so that you will better understand the general plan of procedure. Other kinds of drawing such as still life should be supplemented, for all form presents the general problem of contour, planes, light and shadow.
Get used to using a soft pencil, one that will give considerable range from light to dark. A thin, weak and gray drawing has practically no commercial value. The switching to a pen and black drawing ink is not only interesting but has real value commercially. Use one that is fairly flexible. Pull the pen to make your line, never push it at the paper, for it will only catch and splutter. Charcoal is a fine medium for study. A large tissue or layout pad is excellent to work on.
Perhaps the best way is to suggest that you use the book in whatever manner suits you best.
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