Thursday, January 10, 2013

Give her a hand!

This nude done several years ago, is one I really love! It has great color, an almost tangible sense of three dimensional form and a very real personality there in the model! When I found it in an old portfolio just now I wondered why I hadn't used it here it in the past.  Checking back, I did find that I'd done a post with what I believe is same model but in a completely different pose, - not this drawing.  So, what's not to like?

It didn't take long to find the problem and I'm sure you've found it just as quickly! Her lips, breasts, knees and even her nose has that strong form I just spoke of.  The feet, even though lightly outlined, are acceptable because we understand them to be barely sketched in place.  They "read" well!  No, it's that wimpy hand! The right hand is bad enough, hanging like a limp fish with little delineation but look at that poor left hand. What a disaster!
Hands are not just a problem here but a very real and common problem that frustrates many an aspiring artist!

Hands are probably the most difficult part of the human body to draw convincingly because they are so articulated and flexible.  This difficulty is especially true when, as in the left hand above, the distortion of foreshortening is involved.  I remember fighting with it, trying to make myself believe it was a solid live hand rather than a flat and empty glove. At the time I just couldn't see it any differently.

I often redraw details of pictures when I have problems. I was doing a pencil portrait of my aged mother when I realized my rendition of her hands was not working well at all. I did these additional sketches  trying to understand the particular characteristics of her hands - the enlarged knuckles in crooked fingers for example.  This is one of those instances where some knowledge and prior practice would be useful!  It's really back to the books time!

I've often had students who thought it my duty to teach them "how-to-draw" what ever their current interest was whether cat, dog, horse, super hero, or anything.  If you have been following this blog for any length of time you know my emphasis has always been observation, "learning to see",  so what-ever your particular subject, even something unfamiliar, you'd have some success in drawing it.  Beyond that, research is the answer.  When confronted by a problem like the hands above, check out a basic artists' anatomy for realistic depictions of bone, muscle and ligature relationships then go to a good "how to" volume for diagramatic construction tips.  Between those actions and some quality observation,  you should be (and I should have been) able to draw an observed hand in any position.  (Still, that foreshortening can be tough!)

Yes, if you have a particular interest, do some real research, get to be the expert so that your work is understandable, unified, interesting to look at and interesting to do. I often talk here about the importance of observation and at times even preach acceptance of distortion in your drawings BUT context is important!  The whole drawing, the whole figure in this case, should meet the same basic standards and the drawing of the lovely model above clearly misses the mark in that left hand.  Mea Culpa!

"Difficulties come not to obstruct, but to instruct."   Brian Tracy

"When I see nature I see it ready-made, completely written - but then, try to do it!"   Claude Monet

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