17 March 2000


YouCanDraw.com's Insiders Communique


In this issue:

1) Feature by Feature Mini-series: the eyebrows

2) YCD update news

Happy Saint Patty's day everyone!

If you celebrate St Patty's day, I hope you have a wonderful and safe day.
It's one of those days it's pretty easy to get carried away. (The rummies
have already started around here!)

1) Today's "Feature by Feature" focus is on the eyebrows. I used to forget
these when I first started - why, I don't know, but I did. They exist kind
of like a reverberation above the eyes. Maybe it's their afterthought
quality that allowed me to forget them being so closely tied to the eyes.
Maybe it's the fact that a person's eye's command so much attention when
you're looking at or speaking with them. Even people who don't want to look
you in the eye compel you to watch their eyes even closer. Ever noticed
that? So it seems to me without putting too much thought into it, the
eyebrows play second fiddle to the eyes.

That said, what can we say about the eyebrows? They're made of hair - for
the most part (though it's seems to be pretty popular with the younger
Hispanic women here in LA to shave their eyebrows and redraw them with
liner). Behaviorist psychologists claim that a completely hairless face is
a less expressive face and therefore more easily misinterpreted and less apt
to survive in a world that requires lots of nuance in it's communication.
The functionalist's say that brows keep sweat from running into the eyes and
add a little protective padding for the eye when we run into things. My
Grandma Hilda didn't care about any about that, she would just beat you into
good behavior with a good old-fashioned brow-beating - if she didn't catch
you first.

Animals and eyebrows

Animals have eyebrows - I just happened to pull a book down off my shelf
here and believe it or not, on page 144 of "Birds of Prey of the World"
there's a picture of a "Spectacled owl". Guess what he has? Eyebrow's that
look like a pair of white rimmed glasses. Cross my heart! And on page 129
of the same book there's a Great Horned Owl. What are the Great horns? Sure
look like eyebrows to me. And there's a picture of a cat in the LA Times this
morning and it most definitely has eyebrows; and my nephew Zachary's book
on dinosaurs shows all the dinosaurs with eyebrows. Do fish have eyebrows? I
don't know right off but I'll bet if you looked... Now maybe I'm pulling a
Sigmund Freud here and seeing eyebrows in EVERYTHING.

Anyway, what I see in common in all of these is what IS an eyebrow and what
LOOKS like an eyebrow is minimally a little extra tuft of hair on top of a
bone that protects the eye. Some animals (like us, and apes, and the higher
mammals) just have very mobile and expressive eyebrows. Makes me think of a beagle's or a bloodhound's quizzical expression. Seems to me eyebrows can
say a lot.

What else can we say about eyebrows?

Well since I brought up Freud, I guess I can say the word "sex" or stretch
it and say "sexes". And yes, eyebrows definitely have gender-specific
differences. What are they? Men's eyebrows are bushier, wider and lay closer
to the upper lid. Women's are generally narrower and arch much higher above
the upper eyelid. Exceptions? Brooke Shields among the women, Truman Capote among men to name two.

One big eyebrow

Men tend to have more of a "single" eyebrow - that is, one that spans from
above the left eye all the way over to the right eye. Women? They just pluck
that middle part. (I'm gonna take another brow-beating for that one. OK,
guys do that too...but just not as often. Right.)

Flat-S shape

Eyebrows are something of a flat-"S" shape starting at the root of the nose,
(the base of the nose is down there on top of the upper lip), and can curl
all the way around to where the rim of the bony orbit touches the cheek bone.

Eyebrows are rarely symmetric

Yes, eyebrows come in pairs for the most part, or at least we think of them
that way but rarely are they mirror-images, rarely are they symmetric. Just
think of John Belushi, (see attached), or Sherlock Holmes, or Inspector
Clueseau. Put on your own "Inspector Detective" hat and look in the mirror:
you'll have that cynical, one-brow-higher-than-the-other,
head-turned-just-a-tad" look.

The purpose of all this

Assignment #1. Why do this? Why look at one little feature at a time when all you wanted todo was draw caricatures? It's to get you OBSERVING, to coach you to pay more attention. So, between now and the next communique this is your mission: do three to five 15 minute sessions of drawing nothing but
eyebrows. Go to the short section on eyebrows and review the relationship of
the eyebrows with the eyelids, the cheekbones, the forehead, and the hair.
(Why the hair? because the eyebrows are hair.) By spending a little
concentrated effort on any one feature over a small period of time will pay
off large dividends later. Here's the link:


Assignment #2. Today: every time you hear or read "Luck of the Irish", "When
Irish Eyes are Smilin'", or "Kiss me I'm Irish", or hear an Irish song,
look at somebody's eyebrows. Close your eyes and try to visualize how to
draw them. Be careful you don't fall over if you've been doing a little
dipping. :-) Look for the differences between men's and women's eyebrows.


2) Update: Working hard and fast on the next section of "Light and Shadow".
I keep talking about a downloadable version - not to worry, it's coming and
you'll be the first folks to know. I thank you for your patience.
(Everything seems to take longer than planned - and that's no Blarney.)

Take care, Keep on drawing, and have a safe St. Patty's day!




John Belushi Eyebrows