The beautiful people

Believe it or not, beautiful people make terrible models.

I just got back from my last life drawing session (next week I move to a new job in a new building in a different part of town, so I’ll no longer be able to participate). The model was gorgeous. A perfect set of classical curves (of course, I’m talking here about things like cheekbones, jawline, eyebrows, etc. You and your filthy minds…), raven haired; alabaster complexion; plump, pink lips; clear, blue eyes. I thought “Ooh, I’m going to enjoy this one”.

One hour later I threw my pencil down in disgust. Drawing pretty people is no fun.

It started well – the first line was perfect, capturing the curve from brow to chin. It all went downhill from there. The proportions came out all wrong, some features were too large, others too small, I erased and re-drew the mouth three times, to no avail. Perfection is unforgiving – the slightest variation, distortion or flaw will stick out like a sore thumb. Still, at least I got to stare at her for an hour without getting slapped, or arrested.

You want to know who’s fun to draw? Old people. Someone fairly normal-looking, with wrinkles, some blemishes, a bit weather-beaten, straggly, although preferably no facial hair, please. There’s something to get your teeth into – some details to work on. But try capturing smooth, curved beauty and any and all of your shortcomings as an artist become painfully apparent.


7 thoughts on “The beautiful people

  1. Erik Rasmussen January 24, 2008 / 3:54 pm

    Why are there no drawings yet on Flickr? C’mon, there’s no room for modesty on the blogosphere.


  2. simonlitton January 24, 2008 / 4:08 pm

    Erik: Firstly, the whole point of this post was to describe how utterly I failed to produce a decent drawing. Do you really think I’d humiliate myself further by showing it to you all so that you can say “Yeah, you’re right – it’s shite”?
    Secondly, a couple that didn’t turn out too badly can be seen here. I wrote about my drawings previously here and here.


  3. Erik Rasmussen January 24, 2008 / 4:22 pm

    Hey, those are pretty good! Definitely way better than I could do.

    The human body, particular the face, are particularly hard to get right because we have such a solid mental archetype of what one should look like that any flaw is immediately obvious. I suppose this is magnified when beauty is involved.


  4. Peter January 24, 2008 / 6:57 pm

    Like you noticed Simon,
    there is something wrong with perfection 😉


  5. jagosaurus January 25, 2008 / 3:41 am

    Perfection really is boring.

    Your drawings are pretty darn good. They are significantly better than anything I could produce. That’s for sure.


  6. V-Grrrl February 3, 2008 / 5:28 pm

    Hey, I humiliate myself artistically on a regular basis. I figure by posting all my efforts, I’ll try harder. At some point, I won’t be thinking, “Maybe I should just close the sketchbook on this.”

    I’m terrible at drawing, but maybe one day I won’t be, and then my loyal readers will be proud to have taken the journey with me. : )


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