Portrait Drawin

MICHAEL BriTTON

2ND EDITION

... Everything in nature has character; for the haracter is the essential truth of any natural object, whether ugly or beauti ful; it is even what one might call a double truth, for it is the inner truth haracter is the essential truth of any natural object, whether ugly or beauti ful; it is even what one might call a double truth, for it is the inner truth

unswerving directness of his [sic] observation searches out the hidden meaning of all things. And that which is considered ugly in nature often presents more character than that which is

And as it is solely the power of character which makes for beauty in art, it often happens that the uglier a being is in nature, the more beautiful

There is nothing ugly in art except that which is without character, that is to say, that which offers no outer or inner truth.

Whatever is false, whatever is artificial, whatever seeks to be pretty rather than expressive, whatever is capricious and affected, whatever smiles without motive, bends or struts without cause, is mannered without reason; all that is without soul and without soul and without truth; all that is only a parade of beauty and grace; all, in short, that lies, is ugliness in art

When an artist, intending to improve upon nature, adds green to the springtime, rose to the sunrise, carmine to young lips, he creates ugliness because he lies.

When he softens the grimace of pain, the shapelessness of age, the hideousness of perversion, when he arranges nature — veiling, disguising, tempering it to please the ignorant public—then he is creating ugliness because he fears the truth.

To any artist, worthy of the name, all in nature is beautiful, because his eyes, fearlessly accepting all exterior truth, read there, as in an open book, all the inner truth.

He has only to look into a human face in order to read there the soul within — not a feature deceives him; hypocrisy is as transparent as sincerity — the line of a forehead, the least lifting of a brow, the flash of an eye, reveal to him all the secrets of a heart.

Auguste Rodin

The Problem of Seeing and Drawing

We all see, more or less, the same. It is our perception of what is seen that is the major stumbling block to drawing what we see. This stumbling block of perception is accepting symbolic preconceptions for what is really there. For various reasons, when we begin to draw we refuse to accept the reality of what we are looking at. A student will concentrate their gaze upon, say, a nose, conscientiously note every indentation and pore, scribble down a symbol of a nose then wonder what went wrong. Worse, still, a student will invest hours in a drawing, become more and more frustrated and eventually convince themselves that the drawing is correct and the model wrong!

These symbolic preconceptions are insidious. As children we subscribe to a universal code of symbols. Every child utilizes the same symbol for a tree, a flower, a person (big head, tiny body), etc. As adults we build and elaborate upon these symbols. In portrait drawing, students will render an eye according to this language of symbols. There is no deep meaning, other than clinical interest, in these symbols. They are simply a short-cut to seeing; paradigms, or models of experience, rather than the 'real'.

This problem of perception can be corrected with knowledge and training. The objective of this course is to employ a methodology that breaks down the human head to its simplest components and build-up to that glinting expression that first appealed to us.

Drawing the human head is no more, nor less, difficult than drawing an apple. We will begin with establishing the arabesque and the height/width ratio of that particular head. From there we will establish the major landmarks (the brow ridge, the base of the nose, the zygomatic arches and mastoid process) and, then, block-in the primary light/dark pattern. Once that is established, the arabesque is refined, the features placed, and then, and, only then, do we proceed with modeling the form.

Canvas Painting For Beginners

Canvas Painting For Beginners

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