December 12, 2000

*******************************************************************'s Insiders Communique


In this issue - 

1) Growing Pains

2) Taking your drawing to the next level


Hi all, 

1) Growing pains. 

I've been pretty sporadic here again at getting out the e-zines - we've had 
another small computer glitch. While writing the communiqué last Monday the 
screen went blank. So now eight days later, and after several trips to the 
shop, we're back up and running. (It was just a loose power wire on the 
motherboard but it took three computer techs half a dozen looks to figure it 
out.) Believe me, I was sweating it big time too since the computers aren't 
networking correctly, and the most recent set of files weren't backed up - 
and of course they are now, right? (That's job number two here today.)

During this ongoing ramp-up / relaunch / computer networking / holiday 
season things may continue to be a bit sporadic. I thank you ahead of time 
for your patience. Onward. 


2) Getting Depth in Your Drawing

Yesterday ( about 10 days ago), I went to a "Drawathon" out here in LA. - seven hours of straight figure drawing. It was a blast. And it was 
tiring - but I didn't notice that until it was about all over and my arm and 
my neck had kinks in them from here to Jersey City. I'd forgotten how much 
fun it is to draw the whole body. The human body - from a drawing 
perspective, (heck any perspective) - really is one of the most fascinating 
creations in the world. There are more little shadows, curves, convexities 
and concavities than you can shake a pencil at. 

While drawing yesterday it hit me right between the eyes how little I 
remembered about drawing hands, how little I remembered about drawing feet, how much structure there is just under the skin. It's all simple to draw if 
you slow down and break them down in to all their detail. Right! What you 
see as shadows and curves on the skin really is only the "tip of the 
iceberg". I felt at a loss. And I know what I've learned on my own: if you 
want to conquer something, you've got to immerse yourself in it first. 

It's one of the foundation ideas of Betty Edwards and the "Drawing on the 
Right side of the Brain" that all you have to really learn to draw is learn 
to see what's in front of you. And that's true. Very true. At a beyond a 
superficial level that really will get your foot in the door. Learning to 
make that mental shift from left brain to right (or R-mode to L-mode) is the 
most necessary step in drawing. That can be learned rapidly. But once you've 
gotten good at that, it's time to start heading for depth.

So I ran out to Barnes and Noble and I found this wonderful book - "Master 
Class in Figure Drawing". It's by Robert Beverly Hale a renowned professor 
of the Art Students League on West Fifty-seventh Street in New York City.

Getting to the next level.

Mr. Hale in his book makes these remarks - and I'll quote three: 

1) It is hard to exaggerate reality unless you know what reality is. If you 
are familiar with the norm, you can more easily see the deviation" (from the 
chapter on the Upper Leg).

2) "First we draw what we see, then we draw what we know, finally we see 
what we know" (from the chapter on the knee). 

3) "You can't draw anything unless you know it exists" (from the chapter on 
the shoulder girdle). 

I think the last line "You can't draw anything unless you know it exists" 
most neatly couches the idea I want to make today. I could reframe it in my 
own words: to draw accurate faces, hands, feet, you've got to know what lies 
underneath. You've got to know the deeper anatomy: you need to know what the underlying bone structure is, where muscles arise (their origins), and where 
they anchor (their insertions). How do the layers of muscle move and 
interact underneath the skin when a person twists, or frowns, or reclines?

Seeing behind what you're seeing

Do you HAVE to know all this to draw faces - to draw anything for that 
matter? No. Absolutely not. Learning to see what's literally under your nose 
is the first step. Said a little differently, the information coming through 
your senses is the first - and sufficient - task. (That's learning the five 
skills of drawing part...and that word "sufficient" sounds pretty high 
falutin'...and I've said this already)

Building your own practice

But to draw like a rehearse what you know, and review 
repeatedly what IS known, you build depth layer by layer. You learn to see 
through the surface features. That's why doctors are in the "practice" 
medicine. From a doctor's perspective you can learn about what both health 
and disease LOOK like in a book and do great on a test, but it isn't until 
you're actually face to face with a patient that you really have to ask 
yourself "what's going on here? What am I looking for?" That's when you 
excuse yourself and say "I'll be back in a moment" and you go dive back into 
your books and figure it out. A last second "cram and review" if you will. 

And that's exactly how I felt drawing yesterday - I felt impatient about 
working out all the little lines and shapes and volumes of the fingers and 
hands and feet. I'd forgotten how the external oblique, the paraspinal 
muscles, the latissimus, the rectus abdominis and the spinal column form the 
connection between chest and hips. (And those are just the superficial 
structures!) I made a little footnote, to myself that I'd do that: I'd pull 
out the anatomy books and take my time figuring out what makes hands and 
feet and chest and hips "work". Once I started, it was and has been 
consuming in a very satisfying way.

I've been concentrating on the features of the face and head here in this 
program - because I firmly believe that to be a really great caricaturist or 
portrait artist, you don't need to know the names of all the muscles, you 
don't need to know the different "fascias" of the face, you don't need to 
know that puffy cheeks are just a roll of subcutaneous tissue (fat), that 
gets rolled up between the front plane of the zygoma (the cheek bone), and 
the contraction of the zygomaticus major and minor, the buccinator, the 
levator labii, and nasalis muscles. But it helps - and it IS fascinating. (I 
had to look up those dang muscle names again...and I'm supposed to know them 

Depth brings satisfaction

You don't have to know all that - but if you have a feel for where they are 
and what they do, if you have a growing, developing depth of all that's 
going on in a simple shadow, not only will your drawings look better, but 
your enjoyment level, your satisfaction with drawing will deepen too. Like 
Hale says, you can't draw anything unless you know it exists. Reading Hale, 
he makes it very clear that all the great renaissance painters were great 
drawers and anatomists first - The Da Vinci's, the Durers, Sanzio, 
Michealangelo, The Rembrandt's - they could draw the head, the body, the 
skeleton and all the muscles from any angle, any point of rotation and from 

Pretty outlandish sounding in the is age of "quick fixes". Learning that 
that's what these guys did actually re-enforces everything I've guessed at 
here on my own. It also takes relieves some of the pressure and gives hope - 
nobody learns all that anatomy over night. With time and desire, it's within 
anyone's grasp. (I firmly believe that.)


So if you feel like your drawing has gotten stale, and the Internet and 
staring at the computer don't feel like enough, challenge yourself. Get a 
book or enroll in a course that are going to stretch you, get you re-fired 
up enough to pick up the thread where you left off. And of course don't be 
afraid to toss your questions at me - any question that has anything to do 
with drawing I'll try to answer. Sometimes the act of participating (asking 
a question, being in a class), is all you need to get to the next level. 
During the holiday season it's tough to find the time I know, but you just 
might find it's well worth the effort - as much for your sanity as for your 


Here's the link to all the Robert Beverly Hale books (I bought 
the "Master Class in Figure Drawing" and "Anatomy Lessons from Great 

For and image list and links to Leonardo Da Vinci (look at the huge image 
list when you arrive at "" to classic sketches and paintings):

Sculpturer's really had a feel for volume. Check out some of these statue 
photos of Auguste Rodin:

Here's the index page for - a fantastic resource for all kinds 
of art:

And for all of you Renaissance admirer's, check out this Da Vinci 
sitecreated by the students of John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx. (Da 
Vinci was a true Renaissance man: he wrote music too! - there's a link at 
this site to one of his musical compositions):

And to land us squarely back in the neighborhood of caricature, Suzy Voye of 
Tennessee sent this great link of an all time favorite of mine - 
caricaturist David Levine. Compare these masterpieces with the old masters 
and look for similarities...a stretch but they are there, (thanks Suzy):

Keep on drawing!



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e-mail: jeffkaz@YouCanDraw