Light, Shadow, and Directional Mark-Making
One of the problems with realism is that it getting there often flattens the form. I find it helpful to draw studies, not so much for details, but rather for the form using light, shadow, and directional mark-making. The lines’ directions for this Eve study of her left cheek are a consequence of me imagining massaging the forms with my thumb. Literally I will look at the model or photo reference and put my thumb up in the air and note the pathways the massage would take. As you might imagine it is very sensual.
In the 90’s I taught life drawing at the great art school Otis College of Art and Design, and I would teach this technique to my 20+ students. Normally classical art instruction is rigid, the teacher shows the students the exact technique then the students copy the process as exact as possible. But an amazing thing happened with this massage technique. Every single student’s work was unique. Yet they were following my instruction exactly. What happened was that the concept of massage translated into each artists sensitivity, in each of their drawings the light weight was different, some very light and soft, others more brutal, but no two alike. The 2nd thing that happened was that their directional line making was also uniquely different, some drew over the forms like currents, some like chisel marks, and others like pushing. It was without a doubt my most successful technique, stunning really to how well it brought out their originality while at the same time I was exacting that they should all be successful in bringing out the forms.
With internet censorship being explicit now, it is interesting the nude in art is often shadow banned, or outright censored. I have a theory that the nude in art is the greatest symbolic representation of the unique authentic soul. You have wonder if social media, just uses the nude as excuse hiding their real aim to curb individuality.
Michael Newberry, Idyllwild, 1/15/2021