Much of the essential equipment for professional figure drawing is described in the preceding chapters. You have now learned a "means of expression," but your use of that knowledge is just beginning. From this point onward you must learn to express yourself individually, showing your particular taste in the selection of models, choice of pose, dramatic sense and interpretation, characterization, and technical rendering.
Routine knowledge and fact thus become the basis for what is often referred to as inspiration, or spiritual quality, subjects that are little discussed in art textbooks. The truth is that there are no hard-and-fast rules. The best advice is to watch for the individual spark and fan it into flame when you find it. For my part, I have found that most students possess initiative, are open to suggestion, and are thoroughly capable of being inspired to express themselves ably. I believe that when the qualities necessary for acceptable drawing are pointed out, you may be helped tremendously to bridge the gap between amateur and professional drawing.
Two broad approaches are needed: First is the conception, or "What have you to say?" Second is the interpretation, or "How can you say it?" Both call for feeling and individual expression. Both call for initiative, knowledge, and inventiveness.
Let us take the first step. Before you pick up your pencil, or take a photograph, or hire a model, you must understand your problem and its purpose. You must search for an idea and interpret it. If the job at hand requires a drawing designed to sell something, ask yourself the following: To whom must this drawing appeal? Shall it be directed toward a selected or general class of buyer? Are the buyers going to be men or women? Is there a dramatic way of expressing the subject? Will a head or whole figure best serve to emphasize the idea? Should several figures make up the composition? Will a setting and locale help or can the message be conveyed better without these? Where and how will it be reproduced—newspaper, magazine, poster? You must take into account which advertising medium is to be used. A billboard, for example, will require a simple, flat background and the use of large heads, since the message must be taken in at a glance. Newspaper drawings should be planned for reproduction on cheap paper—i.e., line or simple treatment without subtlety in the halftone. For the magazine, where the reader has more time, you may use the complete figure and even background, if needed. The tendency, however, is to simplify and to strip drawings of all that is not of major importance.
With the second step you advance to the practical interpretation of the idea. Eliminate what you know to be impractical. For instance, do not approach a billboard subject with several complete figures, for their expressions will not carry from a distance. Granting, then, that you rightly choose large heads, what are the types you want? What are the expressions? What are the poses? Can you do better if you get out your camera and nail down an expression that you know cannot be held by the hour? Can you put Mother over here and have room for the lettering also? Would she be better over diere? What will you choose for a background? What will be the style and color of her dress? You begin, at this point, to experiment with thumbnail impressions on a tissue pad until you can say, "That's it," and then, with all the vigor that is in you, proceed to prove that "that's it."
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