Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Inside out

Of some men it is said they strip girls with their eyes. I am worse, and that is not because I do not limit myself to girls. I skin them alive.

In animation school, I was taught to draw the human figure inside out. That is, first summarize the pose using simple lines to denote the directions of the big masses of head, rib cage and pelvis, and the limbs, through what is called gesture. Second, build the important masses on top of these lines through use of cilinders, spheres and blocks, and, third and finally, impose the relevant anatomy on top of these.

Academical as this may sound, the fun of the procedure is the application to live humans in what is called 'life drawing'. I have always preferred the English term above the Dutch 'modeltekenen', which has a sense of artificiality. A model is an abstraction of living human being, frozen in a pose to serve the budding artist. The Belgian artist Jijé, nom the plume of Joseph Gillain, believed that 'school is an anomaly: the studio is the real thing'. I like to push it even further: 'the studio is an anomaly: life is the real thing'.

I have always loved to watch the human in his natural habitat, walking, sporting, shopping, playing games, maybe posing for others, but not for me, trying to summarize its acting, its energy, its being. It took me years to grow comfortable in the act of working inside out, and the more I learnt about the human body, its anatomy, draperies and peculiarities, the more satisfaction I got from working from life.

I learnt that, indeed, the naked model is for beginners, while daily life, usually wrapped up in layers of costume, especially in the Canadian winters, is for the advanced, as the human body must be shown inside, like a magician conjuring  a rabbit out of his tall hat.

Hiding in my little corner in the Dufferin Mall I picked my subjects carefully, summarizing their acts in a few lines, then taking my time to dress up the gesture in volume, anatomy and costume. I admit there was a time I was so fascinated by anatomy that I stopped before the final step.

I will never forget the day a lady sitting next to me seemed to be intrigued to watch me drawing. I whipped out a quick series of warming up gestures, before I lost myself in anatomy. When I realised I was basically drawing naked version of mall visitors, it was too late.

So, there is at least one Canadian who came to believe I am a dirty old man. If you read this, I hope you understand I am a budding artist.

1 comment:

Jansen en de Waal said...

gif! jpg! png! tif! animated gif!