Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hungary again and fingernails

Hungarian bagpipe player (possibly Imre Jankovics)
10" x 7.5"
pen on paper

So there's two now in the 100, tracks from the cd Hongrie: Musiques populaires. My favorite so far is Hárnas táncdal, a bagpipe tune by piper Imre Jankovics recorded in the early sixties. Another tune by him on the cd is also a beauty; Rab vagyok, rab vagyok, played on an obsolete pipe instrument that, according to the booklet, is only found in the Ethnographical Museum. Time to start working on some images then. And what a start it was; against all classical drawing wisdom I started with a detailed rendition of the piper's left index finger's nail and continued detail by detail until all the parts were on the paper. I never payed attention to the whole, only to detail. I certainly would tell all my students they do it wrong if they approached a drawing this way, but there is that tendency with inexperienced drafts people to do it just like that (and that's how I felt myself when I started). I've heard about a teacher of portraiture who'd swear by starting with the left eye, and commanded all his students to do just that as well. What it does is to establish a scale. An eye is, as a focal point, an obvious choice for the establishment of a portrait. A fingernail less so when drawing a figure but then again a fingernail is about the same size as the iris of the eye (in the picture the fingernail also happened to be precisely in the center). The figure is measured by fingernails as it were. A nail is about half an inch and when a person is six feet, the measurement would be the magical number 144 (12 dozen). Amazingly or not, scale and proportions worked out perfectly in my drawing, as if I intuited precisely how big that fingernail needed to be. After about half an hour scribbling marks on my paper I proudly showed the drawing to my wife, who then commented that one day I would be sued for stealing a photographer's image. I took the commentary to heart and scribbled a hundred and forty four stars all over the picture: now it was my own. Photo credits on the cd go to D.R. by the way.

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