Above: The chicken coop, back door, front door
January 1, 2021
“Draw what you see” is the glib advice oft found in books aimed at beginners, usually accompanied by a drawing of a pear, The pear’s odd shape provides a lead into shadows, perspective, and so on. I’m not fond of pears.
The idea, of course, is that intense observation will lead to accurate representation of the whole. Valid advice? To a point. But it bypasses the philosophical: “what is the whole?” Pears are easier to draw than people, or cats, or even chickens. For each of these latter, their “wholeness” is unique in each individual, capable of expressing thoughts and mood. How do you draw personality?
This fall (2020), for the first time, I decided to try portrait drawing. Given the restrictions imposed by Covid, I had plenty of time for this project but few subjects. I settled on three, myself, my cat, and a free-ranging rooster of my acquaintance who lives on a nearby farm. The rooster’s name is Goliath. My cat is PC (principal cat).
Of the three of us, PC was the easiest and most fun to draw. PC likes to pose.
With Goliath, the rooster, I quickly realized that I knew nothing about chicken anatomy. How many toes does a chicken have? Wings, wattles, feathers! Oh my! But over and above anatomy, I wanted to capture Goliath’s personality, which is a bit pedantic and fussy (it seems to me). In the drawing above at left, Goliath is surveying his domain from the backdoor of the coop.
Myself? here I ran into major problems! Cell phone selfies revealed that I look older than I’d care to admit, and, alas, a bit “frumpy!” Furthermore, I had been hoping to portray myself as, at least, somewhat “intellectual” (whether true or not) but how do you express personality traits in a drawing? Needless to say, portraiture has been a learning experience…