Friday, February 1, 2008

The Figure

Drawing the human figure is the toughest thing to draw. Why is that? Probably because we empathize so strongly, and so we judge the results so critically. It is easy to see what is "wrong" because we spend our lives looking at people and evaluating them by their appearance. We would not be able to judge the trueness of a drawing of a creature we were not familiar with, though we could judge many other qualities that make up the drawing, but as soon as we really knew the creature, our critical facilities would be on extra alert. Knowing if a drawing of a horse is good or not depends on our knowledge of horses, if, of course, our measure is how accurate it is. How much more so when we draw something we are intimately familiar with.

I have made some prints , and when I look through them I see that there are many levels of seeing that can be communicated and that I find engaging. Part of the excitement of this is in the materials and their textures and colors, part in the subject matter, part in the vigor and skill that we perceive, and part in its apparent "rightness". With the drawing shown here, I like the texture of it, the quickness, the color. I wish it were "righter", more accurate, as then I think it would transform to another level. It is the "rightness" that disturbs me most, the frustration in not getting the form exactly right. How difficult can it be? And yet it proves to be so elusive, always hit and miss, in a way that seems out of proportion to the goal. After all, trying to draw accurately is not so different than tracing, and yet it never works that way. Yet, if you can get the proportions right, the sizes right, so it all fits and feels right, then you've accomplished much.

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