Trying something different in my drawings. I never draw necks.
[IMAGE] Longneck. Ink and watercolour. A6.
Hi. The long-neck girl is cool. What made you try a neck? I think it’s interesting that your persons are missing certain attributes, and that you fill ’em in as a tryout from time to time. It shows an admirable amount of candor.
So, I want to ask you about noses. You see, and I’m pretty sure you’ll accept this in the friendly, yet critical, way it is meant, I’ve been thinking for a while that your faces missing their … well, my Dad always used to call them conks which I like, maybe a Lancastrian term … is a little strange on the eye or at least this eye.
The reason I’m mentioning it at all is because I had a problem with drawing noses for a long while. I don’t mean to presume that’s why you omit them; I don’t know. My problem was, I could only draw them sideways so for a face in profile they looked okay but for a straight-on view the nose was still a profile one. I knew it was wrong but it was strange that I just couldn’t get them right.
Finally I decided to tackle the issue. I studied lots of different artists’ drawings of faces until I concluded that a completely ‘real’ face, all essential features intact, can be conjured with just a few gestures. It’s something to do with the face being the original sign, I guess, the one that our brains are most tuned to recognise. Summat like that anyway.
I know, and I apologise, I’m sure it’s bad form to leave a link to one’s own work on an art blog, and you are a far better drawer than I, but here’s one of my noses, with face attached, as an example of how I attempted to solve my problem. Julian Opie’s scantly featured portraits come to mind too.
Well, I know you have no difficulty with essential minimalism in your art. You are almost always economic and elegant in your drawing. So do you like the face without the nose better, or what? ;^)
I think “candor” should be Rachel’s middle name. What else do you call the courage to shoot a portrait daily for a year and put it up for all the world to see? I admire you SO much for that.
I like Ms. Longneck:-) Look forward to seeing how you answer C.A.’s challenge about facial features. It’s true – they’re hard, but ya know, I never even noticed that they were “missing” from your work!! (Oh, why do I call it work^&*(&^&*(*&)
Oh shush CA – you’re just drawing attention to the missing bits!
OK, well since you ask …
If I drew noses, or suggestions of noses (I do like Julian Ope’s style – thanks for the link) then I’d also need to draw ears. And fingers. And eyebrows. And necks. And boobs. And before I know where I am it doesn’t look quite the same anymore.
Plus – noses are difficult. Busted! I could study others and become successful with noses and all other manner of things. I am completely capable of developing and learning and pushing the style. BUT … the way my brain and my energy works with this ME/CFS is I can’t always study. It’s hard to explain but things just don’t always click these days – I have to really want to learn it and I have to be at the optimum moment. And I can’t create that it seems.
SO – part of the style of drawing I have here comes about (missing noses and other things) because that is what I can draw and how I can draw it.
You have to remember that if I had the energy and the brain computing power I would be doing and learning and developing in all sorts of ways as an artist. I’d be painting and sculpting and sketching and drawing “proper” things.
My drawing style here on the majority of my blog is I suppose much like a visual form of my handwriting. Why don’t I put a down stroke when I write a letter “u”? Why do I cross the top and bottom of a capital “I” when it’s on it’s own but not at the beginning of a word? Because that’s how I write. It’s evolved over time. And I could practice and focus on writing beautifully and clearly and include all the strokes and crosses and dots – but then it wouldn’t look like my writing anymore.
See I thought the reason I don’t draw noses is because they’re hard to draw. Because get that wrong and you’ve ruined the whole drawing. But then I remembered how much I love love love drawing eyes. Real eyes with their gorgeous curvey eyelids and especially the iris. Yet my drawing here and throughout my blog have dots for eyes.
When I started out putting dots for eyes I felt a pang of sadness because I know how important eyes are in a portrait. But at that moment the drawing was too small and my hand and brain and soul too wrecked to do anything but a dot.
And then I discovered that despite only having two dots and line for the mouth I was able to communicate many many different things.
You might notice over in the sidebar there is my Half and Half drawing in my red pj’s lying on the bed. In that drawing I have EYEBROWS. It certainly adds to the expression but I’m not sure I couldn’t have communicated just as much without them.
So now I get a kick out of how much I can tell you the viewer, or at least how much you the viewer can see for yourself, using two dots and a line. No nose, or eyebrows, or proper cheeks, or fingers, or ears (unless it’s someone with short hair because they just look weird with no ears – and then they are two little cups of ears).
I like your sketch CA – I love the suggestion of form through such a simple gesture on the page. I remember a Picasso drawing on my Dad’s wall many years ago which he loved because of the way Picasso could suggest so much using so few marks on the page.
As for the neck here in this drawing … well … awake in the middle of the night looking for distraction from pain I found some very cool demo videos on YouTube by anime artist Mark Crilley. Now I hold no ambitions to be a manga fiend but watching him work was fascinating and I have to tell you I learnt a few things.
I decided a few of his tips would be things I would try and apply to my own work – not to make them anime but to maybe take the style forward a little. So the neck comes from watching Mark Crilley paint Miki’s collar and looking at how the neck said so much and wanting to see how it would work for me.
But mainly wanting to just try different things. It’s a perfect example of how if I try to sit down and apply myself and learn it doesn’t seem to happen. But in that moment I got fascinated and I watched 4 videos in a row and went back to bed thinking “I just learnt more in 4 ten minute videos than I did the whole of my GCSE art at school”.
As for candour Nina – well I suppose it’s a compliment :o)
I’m certainly glad that all this self reflection isn’t perceived as egotistical because that feels about the last thing on earth that it is intended to be. I think my drawings and my self portrait project are/were pretty honest.
But I also know that I was able (on almost all days except a handful) to be selective about what I showed and how. You’ll notice there’s only a couple of photos that show my whole body because I hate the shape I am. That’s something I haven’t overcome or was willing to be brutally honest about in the project! So are those photos still candid? I’m not so sure.
Did anyone manage to read to the end of this very long comment? LOL!
Yeah I know I should shush sometimes when I don’t. I have a weird habit of both focusing on what’s missing and commenting on it. I am keenly aware that what is left out can be, if you will, a negative allusion. I don’t think noses fall into that category though.
I don’t think there’s any amount of expression or meaning lost by not including them. I know you’re interested in ideas and concepts that would be clouded by excessive detail. In Half and Half the arched brows add a significant amount of expression to the character, to my mind effectively articulating a mixture of surprise and resignation in keeping with the dual theme of the whole composition. Noses do not, can not, express anything at all – unless they are running. Ha.
I believe leaving things out is important to good drawing. A viewer’s mind and eye together seem to fill in what’s missing, and they provide a more satisfying picture than one in which all details are present.
Mark Crilley’s drawing demos are very interesting. I just watched his How To Draw Chibi Faces. Funnily enough, at 01.16, just after he draws the character’s mouth, his pencil hovers over the middle of the face and does a little squiggle gesture in the air but the nose remains undrawn. Of the six faces in that film, only one has a nose. I don’t know much about manga art. I guess the missing nose is a convention of the style.
You are right the main subject of your art being your self and your life in all its richness in spite of limits, and what you call self-reflection, is evidence of a most positive kind of self-knowledge. What you do is obviously a tremendous inspiration to others. It is to me.
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Rachel Groves, Artist
Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK