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Archive for November 8th, 2013

13AnatomyYesterday was the ninth of twelve classes in this fall term.  We had been working on all sorts of topics:  drapery, still life, shading, three-dimensionality, hands, faces, contrapposto, composition, upside-down drawing, the works.  All difficult issues.  Why not add more difficulty, I thought, and give them the difficulty of choosing what to work from.  I set up a still life and brought in images of faces & hands to struggle with.  And then one more thing:  pages from Barcsay’s anatomy book.  To my surprise, most of the class went for the challenges of anatomy.  It’s the driest of topics, but there they were, eagerly gathering around the table where the xerox copies of the muscles and bones were spread out.

You get a work out when you try to draw all these muscles in their right place. It’s an accomplishment in itself and a valuable exercise that helps you draw more loosely and with more confidence when you face the live mode.

When the anatomical studies are placed on the same page, crammed together and made to partially overlap, the result is greater than the sum of its parts.  The page (above, by Gaby Edgerton) is clearly about studying anatomy, but the rhythm created by these dense forms nudges the composition out of mere academia and into the category “art.”

13BarcsayMusclesJenö Barcsay’s (1900-1988) anatomy book has been around for about forty years.  I like to use it in class, because the illustrations lack flair and heroism.  It’s actually a little boring (just the facts, ma’m)   and that spurs a more advanced student on to invent a way of drawing and a way of putting the body parts on the page that perks us up because it feels a lot like art.  Killing two birds with one femur.

(There’s some glare on the photo of Gaby’s drawing because I use a little instant camera in a room with rows of ceiling lights.)

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