Because We Are Human

15 Jun 2014

Phases of Dane by Anthony Ryder. Crescent, 1998, graphite and pastel on gray paper, 25 x 19. Courtesy van de Griff/Marr Gallery, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Phases of Dane by Anthony Ryder.
Crescent, 1998, graphite and pastel
on gray paper, 25 x 19.
Courtesy van de Griff/Marr Gallery,
Santa Fe, New Mexico.
When asked why painting the human figure was so important painter Scott Burdick was matter-of-fact. “Because we are human,” he said. “If an alien species were to come down today, they wouldn’t respond to the human form or face like we do. Just like pictures of lobsters don’t remind us of our parents or children. We are human, and we are most tied up in other people and our relationships to each other.”

Drawn Face VII (Nicole II) by Dirk Dzimirsky
Drawn Face VII (Nicole II)
by Dirk Dzimirsky.
Burdick then shared what he recommends to students based on his own painting process. Above all, he stresses how crucial it is for artists across all media and subject to learn to draw accurately. Knowing how to capture a strong likeness begins with the features of the face—learning how to draw eyes, lips, and noses. But having a deft eye when it comes to learning how to draw faces with unique character is the real test. Taking the time to really look at a person’s features, and executing a likeness accurately and with personality—that is what allows an artist to excel.

And of course there are many ways to present a person. You can draw portraits in the classical manner, with a focus capturing the character of the sitter, or you can take a more independent course--perhaps working from a composite of images, or even abstracting the figure in order to evoke a certain response.

Learning how to draw a face or figure or paint a portrait that is memorable and unique is an artist’s greatest challenge, but when done successfully, also one’s greatest accomplishment. Daniel E. Greene: Essential Lessons in Oil Painting will put you well on your way to the successes and goals you have planned for yourself. You'll find classic and proven painting instruction with an emphasis on seeing acutely--things every artist needs.


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