Saturday, March 11, 2006
WOWEE, LOOK AT THOSE HANDS!
Nobody draws hands like the great Mort Drucker.
close up, with pencil lines
If you study Drucker's stories for MAD magazine, you will see a wonderful ballet of hands from one panel to the next. Note in the following drawing how, in a tiny space crammed with Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Al Pacino and other superstars, a hand still dominates center stage.
There are at least two important lessons to draw from Drucker's treatment of hands.
First, Drucker constructs hands like a master architect-- he understands the structural foundation of his subject, and that gives his drawings solidity. But that's only the start. For some artists, extensive knowledge of anatomy can have a deadening effect. It locks them into a certain mechanical way of thinking. It becomes an anchor that weighs down creativity.
But if you're really good-- like Drucker-- your knowledge of anatomy sets you free. Drucker could never achieve his springing, bouncing joyful line if he had to slow down to consult reference every time he drew a hand. He has internalized his knowledge, and it has given him a solid foundation from which he can launch his trademark "slapdash" line with confidence. There's no other way to achieve that effect.
The second lesson is that Drucker did not need to draw all those hands in order to get paid for the job. The picture below would have been quite complete without one hand knocking on the door, a second hand grasping the door knob and a third gesturing in mid air.
Look in the following close up at the work that went into drawing three hands that could just as easily have been cropped from the bottom of the panel. These were not drawn for the sake of the editor.
That, my friends, is the real definition of art for art's sake.