Sunday, May 14, 2006
NO STRAIGHT THING
The illustrator Robert Fawcett used to complain about the grueling training in figure drawing that he received at the Slade school in London. He recalled bitterly how one professor made him devote a full week to drawing a single figure on plain paper using a hard graphite pencil. While it seemed like torture at the time, Fawcett admitted that by forcing him to focus on every nuance of the drawing, his professor weaned him from "the long, long search for shortcuts."
This training shows up in many of Fawcett's illustrations, where he rarely resorted to the popular shortcuts in rendering the human figure. He did not assume that figures stood at a right angle to the ground, or that they were symmetrical.
You rarely see straight lines for pants legs or ovals for heads. If you look at the shoulders, posture and body frames in these examples, you will see the work of an artist who kept his eyes open.
The great philosopher Immanuel Kant once observed, "Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever built." Fawcett seemed to appreciate that, and took great delight in illustrating the knot holes, wood grain and corrugated bark of his subjects.