Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ON THE DIFFICULTY OF DRAWING WOMEN'S FACES

One could easily devote a long and joyful lifetime to cataloging the differences between men and women without ever pausing to consider the higher significance of those differences. That is certainly the safest approach.

But as the astute Goethe noted, "Nothing is harder to take than a succession of fair days," and every once in a while (usually at the end of a year in which one hasn't met his full quota of foolhardy behavior) a person will deliberately risk life and limb by exploring the significance of those differences out loud.

It is in that spirit that I set out today to consider why it is more difficult to draw women's faces than men's faces.

Artists quickly learn that men's faces are easier to draw because men have bone structures and muscle groupings that are more pronounced than women's. Male heads are generally more blocky and angular; they tend to have stronger jaws, square chins and prominent brows. These features provide artists with easy opportunities to employ distinctive lines, strong shadows and recognizable shapes to achieve a resemblance.


From the Famous Artists School course materials, "Constructing the Head and Hands."

Women's faces, on the other hand, tend to be smoother and softer, with rounder shapes and subtler, more delicate features which require greater restraint.

Another difference that makes men's faces easier to draw is that, "as the man matures he develops larger, deeper wrinkles while the woman develops smaller ones because her skin is finer textured and her bones and muscles are less prominent." If an artist wants to capture a likeness using lines, it is much easier if the subject has lines that were already mapped by nature.

Note in the following examples how men's sharper angles, prominent facial muscles and deeper wrinkles have provided artists with more tools for describing a form.


Here, Mort Drucker sculpts the male face, but on the woman's face he stops with just the outline. Her features can't be rendered effectively using the same kind of approach, and must be implied instead.


Here, Leonard Starr puts a strong chin, nose, cheekbones and brow on the man (while making it clear from facial expressions that the woman has the stronger mind).


Here, Norman Lindsay tries to deal with the difference between men and women by using small dots to convey the woman's features, while using lines for the man.

The special challenge of a woman's face is that it compels artists to describe subtler forms with fewer lines and less obvious shapes, depriving artists of some of the most fundamental tools in their tool kit. In the following image, Leonard Starr limits himself to little more than an outline of the face but nevertheless gives us important information about the contour of her cheek simply by leaning more heavily on his brush on portions of the right side of her face.



So what is the larger significance of these observations about the differences in drawing the faces of men and women?

Part of the magical power of drawing is that it can lead us unexpectedly to larger truths. The principles we encounter in drawing the faces of men and women often seem rooted in fundamental realities about the sexes:

Like their faces, men's personalities are more easily reduced to a line than women's personalities. Like their facial features, men tend to be more obvious than women. (Artists frequently bear witness to such triumphs of physiognomy!)

Women, on the other hand, are sometimes best understood implicitly and indirectly; the discipline of describing form without heavy reliance on lines requires subtlety, appreciation and restraint but you can sometimes achieve a far better likeness that way.

Regardless of whether these larger principles resonate with you, I am sure we can all agree that if an artist lacks the patience for the complexity of ambiguity, you can't compensate for that lack by substituting more (or more emphatic) lines of the type that you use for a man's face. In such situations, "more" will invariably turn out to be "less."

84 Comments:

Blogger Dominic Bugatto said...

I find when I'm drawing women's faces , often the old adage 'less is more ' rules the day.

Interesting topic.

12/29/2009 3:44 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

I think the most important difference is the chin and jaw-line. Women tend have more pointed chins, while men are more squarish. I say it's important because when it's reversed, they usually look like the opposite sex. Women also tend to have more delicate noses.

12/29/2009 4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your blog but I'll bet you're going to catch a lot of shit from women readers about this.

12/29/2009 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My two cents: if you're accurately drawing a real face, there's no difference between drawing a male face or a female face. There is an infinite variety of features on either sex. If, on the other hand, you're drawing idealizing cartoon faces, you eliminate lines in the woman's face to fit the cultural preference for youth, smoothness, and symmetry. Is there any more to it than that?

12/29/2009 7:40 PM  
Blogger The Window Keeper said...

To me, it depends on the person I'm drawing as well as the style. For realistic art, yes, there are an indefinite amount of features for both male and female faces, but a lot of them can be shown not just by drawing lines, but by shading.

On the flip side, for my comic art, I have characters that have more detail involved on their faces than others. Its not uncommon for me to have a female character with more lines used for her face than a male's, or vice verse. Also, different head shapes as well; I have at least one female character with a "square" head shape, but she still looks feminine.Of course, I'm still shooting for a more realistic approach with my comic type art, but that's beside the point. It all really goes with what type of style you're going for, and with traditional comics, yes, they do try to go for the traditional nine times out of ten. It's not right or wrong, its more or less a sign of the times, and the artists style.

12/29/2009 11:03 PM  
Blogger Smurfswacker said...

Anonymous the Second's comment is right on the mark. Illustrators and cartoonists generally are called upon to draw BEAUTIFUL women's faces.

Each era's standard of beauty is usually incredibly narrow. Draw a nose a bit too big or a chin too square and you blow the whole illusion.

One way to avoid the problem is to always draw the same (approved) face...Jon Whitcomb was a fine illustrator, but a stroll through his tearsheets reveals that he drew the same idealized face over and over for decades.

Another way is to be one the most brilliant illustrators of your age. I am awestruck by the way Al Parker could draw hundreds of leading females each with unique faces--and all pretty!

12/29/2009 11:08 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Dominic-- I agree. Of course, male and female faces get closer at the beginning and the end of life. It's that long stretch in the middle (when the different roles are played by the sexes) when faces diverge so greatly.

First Anonymous-- I would've thought so too, but apparently it takes more to stir up trouble over the holidays when everyone is in a forgiving mood.

12/30/2009 12:03 AM  
Blogger slinberg said...

I don't remember who said, or where I read, that every line drawn on a woman's face adds ten years to her appearance, and I don't know if there's good science in that or not, but I do think there's wisdom... at least judging by my own struggles.

12/30/2009 1:37 AM  
Blogger C B Sorge said...

When I draw women, the lack of facial details means less landmarks to determine placement of proportions and facial features. I find it's like finding coordinates in an empty sea, so it's easy for things to look off.

And an anecdote my friend had: her anatomy teacher told them to reference their own bodies when they forgot where muscles, tendons, and planes were, especially in the face. Well, it works if you're a guy...

12/30/2009 3:26 AM  
Blogger Saranga said...

I got here from Ink Destroyed my Brush. Interesting topic.

I think Smurfswacker has a valid point - if artists are generally called upon to draw beautiful faces, and if beauty for women involves looking perpetually 17, then adding lines and shading to the faces could make them look older, and less beautiful.
Like the second anonymous said, women's faces become more blank "to fit the cultural preference for youth, smoothness, and symmetry".

In which case the difficulty isn't in drawing women's faces with extra detail added, it's in drawing women who still look conventionally hot, using detail in their faces. And if you can only draw hot women by leaving their features blank, maybe we should looking at producing images of a wide variety of women, some of whom may not be hot.

12/30/2009 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the difficulty is mostly in trying to fit the expected standards. I usually prefer the portraits of women that I draw only for myself to those I draw for them. You have to bend over backwards to please. And as for a male audience, you have to bend over backwards to give them the kind of eyecandy they expect from a woman's depiction.
It is easier to draw males simply because we don't mind looking as rugged as we are.

Caricatures are the worst, by the way. You cannot exagerate a woman's features without risking her eternal hatred. She will laugh along and then secretly stick pins on your voodoo likeness. Most women's caricatures are wholy deprived of fun, always going more into the cute, cartoony, bland, safe look.

Antonio

12/30/2009 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it occurs to me that evidence of this is what we insist on doing to photographs of even the most beautiful models in magazines: we photoshop almost all of their features out- leaving only great big lips and eyes on a totally featureless skin with an outline with obligatory huge cheekbones and not much else. Its not portraiture, it is a sort of caricature, but not of the model -rather of the general female symbol we carry in our brains.
Certainly we do not photoshop features out of a photograph in order to improve the likeness or because they would increase apparent age, but because they would reveal the real age and the real look of the model, which we'd rather idealize.

Antonio

12/30/2009 9:14 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Second anonymous, Window Keeper and Smurfswacker-- I agree that the general principles I described can be more or less extreme depending on the age of the people drawn (see my answer to Dominic above) as well as the style in which they are drawn. (Keep in mind that we are talking about drawing rather than painting; drawing always requires some abstraction and distillation-- no matter how many half-tones are used-- and that is where these differences I am describing tend to emerge.) Even the Famous Artists School material that I quoted notes in a later paragraph, "When we draw male and female heads, we usually follow certain ideal standards designed to make our men look really masculine, our women really feminine." I suspect that masculine v. feminine is a more relevant spectrum to discuss than the spectrum of beautiful v. ugly. After all, I don't think anyone is suggesting that old women or young children cannot be beautiful?

Second anonymous, I would disagree with at least one of your two cents. Regardless of how "accurately" you draw a "real face," it is a quantifiable fact that women's features are generally smaller and subtler and that lines are less pronounced, at least until old age. That just plain gives anyone translating a 3D object onto a 2D surface less to work with. I also think that "cartoon faces" cover a lot of territory, from Daumier and da Vinci to Ernie Bushmiller and Bill Keane. Surely all drawing involves a judgmental process of selecting some features to highlight and some to ignore. As far as I am concerned, comic art and illustration account for the vast majority of the best pen and ink work of the 20th century and much of it does indeed deal with "real faces" so I think there is more to the issue than you suggest.

12/30/2009 10:19 AM  
Anonymous larry said...

When I was first getting started I marveled at the women painted by illustrator George Jones. We were using the same models, but his women were infinitively more beautiful. He had the perfect balance of softness and structure.

12/30/2009 1:44 PM  
Anonymous MORAN said...

David, I notice that no one is interested in what you call the "higher significance" (which if I read you correctly is that the different ways of drawing men or women are related to their different personalities). I guess the point for you is that there is no significance higher than drawing hot women.

12/30/2009 2:04 PM  
Blogger The Jerk said...

interesting analysis, some helpful suggestions brought up here.

of course, there's also the Don Martin school of thought, which is, draw the faces of both genders pretty much the same way, only add a couple bumps in the right places on the body to differentiate the two genders... :-)

12/30/2009 2:51 PM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

I have a Don Adams book, the introduction in the front from one of the MAD editors explained that while Don Adams cartoons weren't that good, they couldn't afford the cartoonist they wanted. It was said in a tongue in cheek kind of fashion, but I always wondered if there was a grain of truth in it. Not matter though, as I used to giggle myself silly at his cartoons.


Are you trying to imply that men are simple (and easy to understand)and women are complex (and easy to misunderstand) David?

12/30/2009 5:05 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Matthew, I don't need "to imply that men are simple (and easy to understand)and women are complex (and easy to misunderstand)" because everybody already knows that is true.

The additional insight that I was trying to contribute is that this fundamental fact of human nature may also be mirrored in the way we draw men and women. Men's faces are made up of obvious landmarks and can be mapped in solid lines. They are easier to draw for that reason. Try that same approach with women's faces and you end up with an unsatisfactory drawing, one that doesn't capture their subtlety or character.

I don't want to pursue the point to absurd lengths, but there do seem to be a number of genuine parallels here... at least enough to muse about in an end-of-year BS session.

12/30/2009 5:36 PM  
Blogger Matthew Adams said...

"because everybody already knows that is true."

Hmmm, tell my wife that, but wait till I am safely hiding behind the booksehelf.

She still doesn't understand why when she asked me to help bath our son I stood there making faces at him and splashing water over him. To her it was pretty obvious that asking to help bath meant that I was meant to start cooking dinner.

12/30/2009 5:49 PM  
Blogger Francisco Galárraga said...

The second anonymous comment is perplexing. I still find women hard to draw no matter the beauty, age or facial features. Must be my natural timidness in front of them reacting.

12/30/2009 9:59 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Slinberg-- I suspect that is in part because any line on a drawing of a young woman's face stands out more than a comparable line on a drawing of a man's face. A line has to satisfy a higher burden of proof to go on a woman's face.

CB Sorge-- I agree, I have the same experience in drawing women's faces.

Saranga-- I understand the cultural obsession with young women who look perpetually hot, and I agree that it is a failing, but I hope I am talking about something a little different here. I believe that, measured in the most objective, gender-neutral way, women from their teens to their fifties generally have smaller, subtler features than their male counterparts, with less distinctive lines, which make their faces harder to capture with lines.

12/31/2009 4:20 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Antonio-- that's an interesting spin on the issue. We've all been assuming that the airbrushed look on women's faces was the result of lowbrow taste and superficial values of prurient men. You are suggesting that women have something to do with it as well.

Larry-- is there a site you'd recommend for Jones' work? You get a lot of chaff when you google him.

MORAN-- it seems that a few people are taking up the challenge now...

The Jerk-- I appreciate Don Martin's approach as well. At that level of stylization, almost any solution is permissible.

12/31/2009 4:49 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

Ever since the illustration market went into the indoor convenienc I, like so many other former illustrators, went to portraiture. About 90% of my work is of women and, although it sounds flippant, my approach is to do everyone as though they are having a "good hair day."

Everyone has lighting and angles that best define their features and when you're painting pictures that freeze a moment in time, it makes sense to be careful about selecting the moment.

I don't see it as much of a problem...then again, I have no problem with the concept of women being beautiful. When we have our dinner, David, remind me to tell you of the epiphany that brought me to this viewpoint.

12/31/2009 9:02 AM  
Anonymous larry said...

Unfortunately no. He had the occasional piece in the society, but spent the later part of his career illustrating for paperback romances. He passed away before the age of internet, and a search only reveals he had the misfortune of sharing his name with a country the singer. I think he moved down to one of the Carolinas after retiring and passed away a short time later, maybe someone knows more. I only met him a few times. I knew him mainly as a great painter of beautiful people.

12/31/2009 9:16 AM  
Blogger Larry MacDougall said...

I wonder what Kathe Kollwitz would have to say about all this. There was a "woman" who drew "women" expertly with big chunks of charcoal or brush or pen with lots of lines and tones and no holding back.

12/31/2009 4:49 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Rob, do you ever have differences with clients who want you to make them look even better than they would on the most generous "good hair day"? I know Sargent had a client who didn't like the way he painted her nose, so she rubbed it out.

I look forward to hearing any man's epiphanies on the subject of beauty.

Larry MacDougall-- Kollwitz is one of my favorite graphic artists of the 20th century and she did great drawings of women, although mostly malnourished women pulling plows, agonized women struggling with death, and ancient, gaunt grandmothers looking for the bodies of their grandchildren. She is certainly worth considering in this analysis, but I'm not sure I would extrapolate general rules from her work any more than I could from Don Martin's work.

12/31/2009 6:17 PM  
Blogger Einbildungskraft said...

Re: apparently it takes more to stir up trouble over the holidays when everyone is in a forgiving mood.

Nah, I just had to smile. what a topic! always so imaginative!
I would think Stuart would say that women's faces are more complicated to portray, precisely because they want/demanded those smaller noses, shapely chins, less lines, and so on.... ("What damned business is this of a portrait painter! You bring him a potato and expect he will paint a peach.")

A better rendering of Goethe's would be: A man can stand anything except a succession of ordinary days.

And I end with good wishes for 2010! Prosit Neujahr!
Beth

1/01/2010 12:44 AM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

>>>do you ever have differences with clients who want you to make them look even better than they would on the most generous "good hair day"? <<<

Not really. I find beauty in unconventional places and do my best to point out aspects of beauty to which the sitter may have been unaware. Very few of us have any idea of what our profiles look like because we don't see them on a daily basis.

One of my sitters had a distinctive and prominent nose. I was frankly taken with it...so much so that I wanted to do a profile. When she acquiesced she could see what it was that I saw, rather than the distorted view she had carried for so many years.

I felt that it was a nose you could hang an entire face on and the resulting painting was very well received. A year later the sitter called to thank me and say that the picture had given her a new appreciation for her distinctive looks.

My biggest challenges are in painting women who are beautiful in the conventional sense. Sometimes that beauty can mask the person.

It helps that I like talking with women.

1/01/2010 1:10 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Rob--
"I find beauty in unconventional places and do my best to point out aspects of beauty to which the sitter may have been unaware."

It's hard to think of a higher calling.

Einbildungskraft-- I would not disagree with your paraphrase of Goethe. Apparently, you understand men.

Happy 2010 to you, and to all of the others who participate in these dialogues through the year! I think we'll have a fascinating year ahead of us.

1/01/2010 2:33 PM  
Blogger Fuller Design said...

Love the blog... just stumbled on it. I'm going to go through the archives now and learned myself.

1/02/2010 6:35 PM  
Blogger stephen Silver said...

Mort Drucker is the best! I just finished making a film on him http://www.bit.ly/mortdrucker

1/03/2010 1:40 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Fuller Design-- thanks very much, glad to have you.

Stephen Silver-- I certainly agree with you about Mort Drucker although I found the Schoolism site a little unclear. To see the Mort Drucker film, do you have to register for the other artists as well? (The lessons, lesson plan, duration etc. were all blank on the Schoolism site). Thanks.

1/03/2010 12:41 PM  
Blogger Jack Sjogren said...

I've considered this topic a great deal lately and I couldn't seem to put my finger on it. This is real helpful. To make someone look more attractive than they appear is to create a new person, which a patron isn't typically happy with.
A conundrum!



"I like your boobs. I think they're very friendly and unpretentious."

1/03/2010 12:55 PM  
Blogger Amanda Crawford said...

Well, I find the opposite to be true- that is, I find it easier to draw women than men. My men tend a little towards the effeminate. I AM a woman, though not 'beautiful' according to the fairly rigid standards of the day (and certainly not up to 'comic book' standards!) and I draw women as individuals and not as 'types'. The subject I find most difficult is CHILDREN. Any lines anywhere= disaster!

1/03/2010 8:44 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/03/2010 9:17 PM  
Blogger Rob Howard said...

I fail to see what the problem is. If you can see it, you should be able to draw it accurately. Isn't that what artists are supposed to do?

Have you ever noticed that graffiti drawings are always uglier than what they depict. Unschooled artists aways err on the side of ugliness. You'd think that the law of chance would occasionally have someone screw up and make something more beautiful than it is, but no. The unskilled artist always makes it uglier, stiffer and less attractive.

What's that all about?

1/03/2010 9:17 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Rob Howard said: "Have you ever noticed that graffiti drawings are always uglier than what they depict."

Nope, not always. I'm not one to defend graffiti or tattoos but something like this looks like it would be right up your alley.

http://img1.visualizeus.com/thumbs/08/06/03/graffiti,portrait,art-dc7467b0731e14e826a0593133c726e5_h.jpg

1/03/2010 11:59 PM  
Blogger Cassandra Lovell said...

I love your blog but I'll bet you're going to catch a lot of shit from women readers about this.

I'd hoped that people have more faith in us than that anonymous. As a female comic reader and artist I read and mostly agree with your article.

However as has been pointed out I have always been aware that the more lines you put on a woman's face the older she looks; this is quite different when it comes to drawing men. I can think of many comic artists who capture wonderful expressions without overloading the face; Amanda Conner and Adam Hughes are at the top of my list to name just a few.

1/04/2010 1:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this post to be utterly bizarre. I apologize for being abrupt, but it's somewhat difficult to respond thoughtfully to a blog post that would make about as much sense to me if it were written in Martian.

I've seen a lot of "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" discourse in my life; claims that there is a concrete divide between All Men and All Women, as though we are two different species. However, I've never seen someone try to apply it to art!

"Artists quickly learn that men's faces are easier to draw," you say. What? Who are these artists? Whence this testimony?

The internet (more than any other venue) has provided me with a great deal of enjoyable and informative contact with other amateur artists (of all genders, ages, nationalities, etc) over the last ten or so years (roughly the period of time I've been drawing "seriously"). I've met artists frustrated and challenged by all kinds of things, including (specifically) portraying both sexes.

Personally, I've always found men much more difficult to draw than women, although as I've gotten older I've found that category too simple - I find many types of faces difficult to render (there are hardly just two; I try to take into account the great variety of size, shape, ethnicity, etc and recognize that "stock" images are entirely false). I don't think this makes me some odd and dismissible minority - it's just that there are no areas of challenge or ease that are common to all artists. Artists are individuals - much like men and women.

Funny how that works.

1/04/2010 2:02 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Jack, thanks for writing.

Amanda, I agree with you 100% about children (although some artists master the subtle art of drawing their faces without lines. Wally Wood was a pretty heavy handed artist but he drew marvelous children primarily by emphasizing big heads, spindly legs and pudgy cheeks.) I think women's faces generally start out closer to the softness of children's faces and end up closer to the lines and hard angles of men's faces, so they do get easier to draw with the passage of time. Also, you write, " I AM a woman, though not 'beautiful' according to the fairly rigid standards of the day." Well, I am not in a position to judge, as you seem to have mastered that art of invisibility you describe, but it sounds like you've been hanging around people with the wrong standards. Big mistake. I did enjoy your work on your web site.

Rob--"Unschooled artists aways err on the side of ugliness." To some extent,this strikes me as a matter of entropy-- if you don't have the ability to organize your picture with harmony and order, it may just naturally devolve toward ugliness. But I'm sure much of the reason is the cynicism that arrives with adolescent disillusionment(and for some, never leaves). Optimism, cheerfulness and conventional beauty suggest a childish lack of awareness of what lies beneath the surface. Better to err in the other direction.

1/04/2010 3:00 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Theory of me-- I had trouble with your link.

Cassandra-- I agree with you; none of the commenters who have identified themselves as women seem to have bristled unduly, whether they agree with me or not. I also agree with your point about Amanda Conner (who does some neat work) and Adam Hughes (who seems to have channeled a typical male obsession with girl's bodies into something of artistic value). But I don't see "many" comic artists who do well with women's faces; often you find that an eye or a nose has crept away from its proper longitude or latitude for lack of mooring, or you find that a shadow has overflowed its boundaries because the artist didn't have a clear landmark to establish where he or she should stop.

1/04/2010 5:40 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Anonymous-- "I found this post to be utterly bizarre."

I'm sorry this seems like Martian to you. I normally try to avoid the subjective gibberish that infects so much of writing in the arts. But in this case, I think my point is as straightforward as laying bricks:

1. It is a fact that men's faces are, on the whole, different from women's faces. 99% of the time, you'd have no trouble telling the difference between a male and female face.

2. It is also a fact that those differences can be classified in distinct categories: sharper angles, deeper lines, more prominent bone and muscle structure, etc. That's Anatomy 101.

3. It is also a fact that the differences listed in #2 above give artists more physical reference points and landmarks to choose from, and thus more tools to to use (stronger shadows, wider variety of lines, etc.) when drawing a male face.

4. In addition, it is a fact that the differences listed in #2 above mean that men's faces tolerate a wider range of artistic skills, because female features betray a heavy hand more readily than male features.

If you want to disagree with my highly speculative conclusion that these visual differences may echo differences between men and women in personality, temperament and character, that strikes me as an area where reasonable people could easily disagree. But if you are saying that god made each and every little girl and boy special in his or her own way, and there are no general categories or common challenges, I would say you are just being silly.

1/04/2010 6:18 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

~Better to err in the other direction.~

I disagree, better to err towards an uplifting ideal, those that cry "Saccharin!" be damned.

1/04/2010 6:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those interested, the 'teaser' for Stephan Silver's Drucker feature is on Youtube and was featured on Boing Boing here; http://www.boingboing.net/2010/01/04/mads-mort-drucker-on.html
- A nice peek into the great man's studio, well worth a look.

1/04/2010 8:08 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Here's a better link to the graffiti image I was referring to:

http://tinyurl.com/y8jg5w9

Anyway, David, I think what you're saying about leaving out details or lines in drawing female faces holds true within the comic strip style chosen for most of your examples. Outside of that highly specific style, I don't see your point holding up as well.

Here are some examples of artists using more than just a few lines to depict young women that are instantly recognizable as female.

Zorn: http://tinyurl.com/ye6dudd
Zorn: http://tinyurl.com/y9qqfdx
Helleu: http://tinyurl.com/yaktyja
Zorn: http://tinyurl.com/ylak6lb

I wouldn't call either of these artists heavy-handed. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that Leonard Starr comes out looking a bit heavy-handed by comparison, and he used less lines.

As for the "larger significance" of all this, I think it's interesting that artists and people in general tend to find it more disagreeable to see the signs of stress and age on a woman's face than they do on a man's. I've heard it said many times that a man's wrinkles make him look wise and distinguished while the wrinkles of a woman are more likely to have an air of tragedy about them, especially if she was once considered beautiful. I've even heard someone say once that Sophia Loren is every bit as radiant in old age as she was in her youth. I never hear such extreme assertions being made about once-handsome males. In fact, even male actors with scars can be considered cool and sexually compelling. Try doing the same with a female actress.

This seems to be the expression of a psychological need for women to be more beautiful, less specific and more vacuous in terms of character than men. The reason we like less detail and visual complexity in the faces of women is because such things are harder to decipher and can appear threatening, which is the opposite of what most people want in a woman. The simpler a face is, the easier it is to feel welcomed to foist our personal fantasies and ideals onto its beauty. There is a good reason why the ideal female face has so many similarities with the faces of infants. It's a sort of "tabula rasa" effect; a simpler face with softer curves and less obvious structure coaxes us into forgetting the anxieties that come with being alive and knowing what it is to suffer, to know that we're going to grow old and die after having our share of disappointments. The many signs of structure we see in masculine faces remind us, if only on an intuitive level, that life is a struggle to survive and we will eventually lose that struggle. A face with less obvious structure is more appealing because all signs of the effort to survive are concealed and that makes it more beautiful to us. Beautiful faces have an effortless, divine quality to them that can be highly mesmerizing and even intoxicating. They give us hope, much like the faces of our mothers gave us hope and comfort when we were children. Even if the hope is only an illusion and temporary at best, it's much easier to indulge in it than it is to live realistically.

1/04/2010 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the idea that men are naturally easier to draw than women is largely dependent on the gender of the artist. I've noticed that women have an easier time drawing women than men, and vice versa, probably because they're more familiar with their own bodies, how they work, how they look, etc. Many of the women artists I know, including myself, have a harder time with male anatomy and facial features at first, and I've noticed that men often have more difficulty with female anatomy and faces. Hopefully as the artist matures and studies anatomy and different facial features, this tendency lessens.

Part of it is also cultural, as other people have pointed out. Standards for attractiveness are very different for men and women, and these cultural standards are reflected in both how we draw and what we choose to draw.

1/05/2010 3:21 AM  
Anonymous bellatrys said...

I was moderately amazed to see that old canard about women just having less facial "character" and thus being harder to draw as distinctive personalities resurrected in 2010 (via WFA) because that was absolute bunk when I was reading it in commercial art how-to books back 30 years ago in high school - and *old* commercial art books, moreover!

This is the argument of someone who hasn't done very much life drawing, or else has ideological blinkers on, same as the Wizard artists who don't know how to draw anyone who doesn't look like Elvira when it comes to body type. Because *actual* women who aren't airbrushed/photoshopped to conform to the bland generic standards of fashion (and a blandly-smooth, structureless face has oddly enough been one of the things that has remained fairly constant
as a convention of the male-dominated visual arts over the ages) actually have - amazingly! - as much bone structure and variation as male humans do.

But then, I suppose it isn't really any more stupid an argument in 2010 than it was in 1950 - after all, commercial artists weren't any more obliged to rely on glossies of starlets and Hollywood posters and other pinup artists' work to get their views of the other half of the human race than men today are prevented from looking at - and doing careful studies of - the faces and figures of actual women of all types out in the world.

Yes, it's laziness - one that life drawing teachers like the ones I had in high school 30 years ago would have knocked out of you very quickly. But far easier to blame it on women just being all the same - can't tell those Others apart, donchaknow!

1/05/2010 4:21 AM  
Anonymous bellatrys said...

Seriously, it's like saying that you have to draw all men with generically square jaws, straight noses and flat foreheads because that's just what men look like, so it's not your fault that all your male characters are indistinguishable Rock Hudson clones!

(I've seen - particularly older - comics that do suffer from this fault. It's very annoying, btw, when you can only tell the guys apart by their costumes, and they're all wearing suits and fedoras.)

1/05/2010 4:50 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Theory of me-- thanks for the graffiti link.

You write, "I think what you're saying about leaving out details or lines in drawing female faces holds true within the comic strip style chosen for most of your examples." I suspect that seems true in part because it is hard to find examples of realistic pen and ink work in the past century outside of comic strips and commercial art. (It also started becoming harder to find idealized or archetypal faces in the fine art world after Manet.)

I could not connect to all of your Zorn / Helleu links, but I am familiar with their work, so I think I understand the point you are making. As a general matter, I think that Zorn (who I agree is an excellent artist) generally uses multiple lines in women's faces the same way that Norman Lindsay, Gustave Dore, and yes, "comic strip" artists such as Alex Raymond and Leonard Starr do-- to add broad planes of tone to show the soft curvature of the face. They don't tend to use them to delineate a distinctive cheekbone or outline a protruding brow, or to show deep lines in the visage reflecting the underlying muscles. Generally, it seems more analogous to using cross hatching to depict the shadow portion of a crescent moon. Zorn was particularly good at it; in fact, that's what his etchings were known for. But you would not have a problem finding women's faces drawn by Starr or Raymond with hundreds of lines of cross hatching to show tone on rounded planes in the shadows. Contemporaries of Zorn, such as Mucha or Vedder, exercised the same restraint I have been talking about. This seems like a worthwhile discussion-- I think there are pro and con examples on both sides-- but I can tell it is getting harder to talk at this level of specificity in the confines of a blog comment section without having a dozen examples in front of us.

1/05/2010 7:27 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Anonymous (which one???) and Bellatrys, I can't say I'm very impressed with the argument that being female on the inside makes you better at drawing them on the outside. (And the argument doesn't become any stronger with the use of words like "stupid" and "old canard" and "absolute bunk" and "ideological blinkers" and "lazy.") If it makes you feel better, nobody here is trying to "blame it on women just being all the same." I don't think there's an element of blame involved in this entire discussion, unless it is on artists (male or female) who have had a hard time mastering the subtler skills of drawing women's faces.

Nor do I think this is a phenomenon limited to "someone who hasn't done very much life drawing." There are plenty of male artists who have made careers of drawing females (just ask the guerilla girls) and illustrators of the 1950s (an era which Bellatrys derides) such as Bowler, Whitcomb, Whitmore, Parker, etc. specialized in drawing and painting female faces for female audiences in magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Redbook and McCall's. Their economic survival depended on their ability to come up with faces that women would purchase (and they survived very, very well).

Perhaps it would help disconnect the aesthetics from the politics and the socioeconomics of this issue if we talked about this in connection with children's faces. As some commenters have noted, it is difficult to draw children's faces because it is hard to put down a line. If we can all agree on that, then perhaps we can have a more apolitical discussion about whether there are any analogies to be drawn between children's faces and female faces.

1/05/2010 8:02 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

David: So the number of lines used is less important than how they are used. I agree that the examples I linked to don't delineate facial structure the way a drawing by Dürer or Jacob de Gheyn would. Zorn and Helleu were more "impressionistic", less interested in specific forms than they were in the overall light effect.

The only artist who comes to mind that could add more facial structure in the female face without "ruining" it is Fechin. I'm sure you're familiar with his work.

http://tinyurl.com/yhb2u6n

But even in his drawings, the extra details, flawlessly executed as they are, probably suggest a little too much ruggedness to be considered as attractive as other drawings with less detail. For me, the prominence of the eye sockets and nasal structure, along with the folds around the eye and mouth allude to other things, not the kind of airy, lighthearted grace that is commonly associated with femininity. I get the sense that he wants us to notice how attractive women can be but the structural anatomy interferes somewhat with that message. It could be intentional. It makes them look less innocent.

1/05/2010 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...I can't say I'm very impressed with the argument that being female on the inside makes you better at drawing them on the outside."

That wasn't precisely the point I was trying to make. What I'm talking about is experience and familiarity with the subject matter in a way that someone else might not be. Women tend to be more familiar with female bodies because we have them our whole lives, not just for a few hours a week in a life drawing class and the same goes for men. (Of course it's not even across the board, since a great deal of art and photography is dedicated to the female nude or the idealized female form in general.)

My goal here isn't to attack or belittle anyone, but just point out why I don't agree with the general dissertation that women as a rule are more difficult to draw than men. I've always found the opposite to be true and most of the other female artists I know have had the same experience. The difference being that more men tend to be professional comic artists and illustrators, so most of the literature is written by men for an assumed male reader. So the 'common sense' of this allegation is lost on someone who hasn't read these books and doesn't have this same perspective because for them, it's an alien concept. I don't have any scientific data to back up my claims, all I have are my own experiences and the anecdotes of other people I know. However, I don't think that makes my experience less valid than a statistic quoted in a book.

"There are plenty of male artists who have made careers of drawing females (just ask the guerilla girls) and illustrators of the 1950s... [who] specialized in drawing and painting female faces for female audiences in magazines."

I don't think anyone's asserting that it's impossible for men to draw women well or vise versa, my assertion is that it takes more practice to do it well than (in general) for a person to draw a person of the same gender. Certainly Adam Hughes makes a good living drawing incredibly idealized women, but I know a lot of women, including myself, who appreciate his art because he really and truly understands female anatomy, he does very well with creating a distinctive personality for his women, and he uses distinguishing facial features for them as opposed to the boilerplate standardized ideal model that so many artists employ. I grew up reading superhero comics and as I got older i became more frustrated with the complete lack of distinction from one face and body type to the next. Alan Davis remains a good example of a superhero artist who, like Hughes, is distinctive because all his characters have distinctive facial features, expressions, and body types. I gravitated toward books he drew because I could identify far more with his female characters than I could with many of his contemporaries' because I felt like he was drawing a whole person and not the generic idea of what a woman looks like. The problem that I see-- and this is probably changing-- is that artists like Hughes and Davis stand out because these ideas are far from universal amongst the genre. [tbc]

1/05/2010 7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Perhaps it would help disconnect the aesthetics from the politics and the socioeconomics of this issue if we talked about this in connection with children's faces."

Bypassing the topic of children's faces for the moment, I have to say that I don't believe it's possible to disconnect aesthetics from societal ideas because they are a direct reflection of them. The faces of women in traditional Japanese art does not reflect the aesthetic ideal of Western cultures, and even the bodies of women in Renaissance art doesn't match today's ideas of beauty. These ideas spring directly from culture and societal standards. This topic isn't about capturing a woman's photographic likeness for serious portraiture, it's about drawing women who are, by our modern, (presumably) American standards, attractive. I haven't seen anyone arguing that the face doesn't matter so long as she has perfectly proportioned bound feet, nor have I seen many people arguing that her physical attractiveness is less important than capturing her personality. Maintaining a very specific aesthetic is part of every culture's art, and this is no different. But to claim that society and culture can be divorced from a discussion of aesthetics isn't a very cogent argument to make because it's impossible. Artists express the aesthetic ideals of the culture they're raised in, and the difficulty of drawing women and children's faces for some probably has more to do with attempting to make concessions for that aesthetic that than anything else.

1/05/2010 7:19 PM  
Anonymous A Wise Old Bird said...

Personally, I think the difficulty in drawing women's faces lies in the relative delicacy of the features and the exact placing to create the elusive quality of beauty. Extraneous lines seem to work against the fine balance one must strike, but within the correct proportions there is endless scope for variations in eye,nose and mouth shape.Being beautiful does not mean looking bland.
Trust me I'm an expert.

1/05/2010 8:20 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

""The faces of women in traditional Japanese art does not reflect the aesthetic ideal of Western cultures… women who are, by our modern, (presumably) American standards, attractive.""

But a billion Chinese can't be wrong China loves blue-eyed blondes!

Yangqi for life!

1/05/2010 8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smaller less obvious features = more need for observation and subtlety to depict accurately = more difficult.

Makes sense to me..

1/05/2010 9:39 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

अर्जुन-- a couple of years ago, I was walking with a Chinese friend in the streets of Beijing. I saw a bus with a billboard advertising some product by showing a trio of blonde haired, blue eyed models-- real Nordic types with high cheekbones, pale skin and long legs. I asked my friend, "how in the world can an advertiser sell products in China using images like that?" He shook his head and said, "that's what our people want. They think everybody in America looks like that. If they ever get to your country, they're in for a rude shock."

1/05/2010 9:54 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"Like their faces, men's personalities are more easily reduced to a line than women's personalities. Like their facial features, men tend to be more obvious than women"


David, you've just been pointing out that it's the women's faces that are best done with a few lines, whereas men's can take a lot more form/shading/modelling. you could easily reverse your conclusion and say that the minimal beautifying lines of the woman show how empty-headed and superficial women are, while the darker more worked shading of the man shows how complex and brooding men are.


seeing men as simpler and more obvious than the mercurial/subtle female seems like a retreat into safer old fashioned values when men were men and they'd never understand those crazy womenfolk. a bit outdated don't you think ?

1/06/2010 5:17 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Anonymous-- "What I'm talking about is experience and familiarity with the subject matter in a way that someone else might not be."

First, can I ask that you (and all other anonymouses) please leave some kind of identifying code name or number or avatar or something? With all of these anonymous comments, we need an air traffic controller to connect comments and responses.

Perhaps it was unfair of me to lump your response together with my response to Bellatrys. I appreciate your taking the time to elaborate on your views.

I think it is important to emphasize that my post is only talking about women's faces, not women's bodies generally. Applying the standards in my post, I believe it is easier to draw women's bodies than men's. Women certainly have more distinctive silhouettes. Their breasts create a more obvious vertical axis than a man's chest, and their hips create a more obvious horizontal axis. Those are all important landmarks that make an artist's job easier. (Of course, clothing tends to level the playing field somewhat.)

But just to close out the point about drawing bodies, I don't disagree with you that "women are familiar with the subject matter in a way that men are not," but I submit that men are also familiar with the subject matter in a way that women are not. Men obsess about women's bodies from a distance; they stare at them all the time (including places on them that the owner of the body rarely sees), they lie awake in bed at night, burning over the vision of them and daydream about them during the day. So the male perspective is not, as you suggest, "just for a few hours a week in a life drawing class." Which type of knowledge is better for purposes of creating art? I would just say that they are different. But consider what the medieval tradition of courtly love (love from a distance) did to embellish the institution of love. The fact that males have to work harder for a glimpse of a female's body compels them to invest a lot in rumination and the other personal ingredients that make for interesting pictures.

You write, "all I have are my own experiences and the anecdotes of other people I know. However, I don't think that makes my experience less valid than a statistic quoted in a book." I agree completely. One of the best things about the blogging process is that it enables people to combine personal experiences and anecdotes that are so important. That's why we're having this conversation right now.

"Artists express the aesthetic ideals of the culture they're raised in, and the difficulty of drawing women and children's faces for some probably has more to do with attempting to make concessions for that aesthetic that than anything else." This is a major, ongoing argument around here. (Don't let Rob Howard hear you talking about this.) If we are being clinical about art, I would have to agree that it is impossible to detach art altogether from "societal ideas." You can always make that connection if you choose to, and it can be an interesting line of inquiry, but ultimately I think it is one of the less fulfilling or informative ways to look at art. We have to be careful about becoming too distracted by it. I, for one, have pontificated on this blog many time against these alleged cultural silos that are supposed to keep western audiences from appreciating Asian or African tastes, or to keep art museums from appreciating commercial or illustration art, or to keep American male aesthetic ideals from communicating with female aesthetic ideals. I think we should be sensitive to genuine differences, but I submit that most of the barriers are the result of economics, pretentiousness, ignorance and hubris. These may be important for maintaining auction houses and empires, but we do everything we can to keep them from tainting the evaluation process here at the good ol' Illustration Art blog.

1/06/2010 12:04 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Laurence John-- "seeing men as simpler and more obvious than the mercurial/subtle female seems like a retreat into safer old fashioned values when men were men and they'd never understand those crazy womenfolk. a bit outdated don't you think ?"

Laurence, I think it only becomes outdated if you transform the meaning by stringing a bunch of new and unwarranted adjectives (such as "mercurial" and "crazy") on the original point.

The original notion that-- as a general matter-- men tend to be more obvious and more susceptible to linear depiction, cannot be proven "true" in the sense that an empirical fact can be proven, but nevertheless I think it is "true" in the way that a poem can be true, and not reversible in the way you suggest.

One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Bertrand Russell, who wrote, "Physics is mathematical not because we know so much about the physical world but because we know so little: it is only its mathematical properties that we can discover." Men are knowable in linear ways not because lines are so great at conveying complexity, but because men just ain't that complex.

1/06/2010 3:10 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Wise Old Bird-- you sound pretty wise to me.

Anonymous (other one)-- that part of the argument seemed pretty uncontroversial to me, but obviously I was wrong. Thanks for writing.

1/06/2010 5:31 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Davis Apatoff: "men just ain't that complex."

Speak for yourself there, David.

Does the fact that men have nearly always been the innovators in every form of virtuous human endeavor betray the male gender's lack of complexity? Not only that, what about the fact that all the most misguided and destructive crimes and injustices in history have always been perpetrated by men who thought they were doing the right thing and had thousands or millions of people agreeing with them? Not to mention the fact that most of the art you feature on this blog was done by men. Are you saying it doesn't take a complex mind to create great art?

Just because someone actually makes sense from time to time doesn't mean they are simple-minded. There is a huge difference between being simple, straightforward, matter-of-fact, or down-to-earth and being simplistic. Only the former is capable of containing complexities within simple premises. A mysterious or ambiguous person isn't always deep, sophisticated or complex. It's possible to not understand someone because there is nothing about them to understand. But obviously, if you just want to get into their pants, it helps to pretend.

1/06/2010 5:58 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Theory of me-- I was originally thinking about writing, "men-- such as Theory of Me-- just ain't that complex." It sounds like you disagree withh my premise, so it's a good thing I didn't.

1/06/2010 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Adam said...

Why do we always fall into this PC cliche that women are mostly deep and mysterious while men are shallow and devoid of subtlety or sophistication?
Women have many wonderful qualities,unfotunately the ability to laugh at themselves is not one of them.
Kathe Kollwitz was a great artist, but not,sadly, a hottie.This may have held her back in the male-dominated world of art.

1/06/2010 7:23 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Adam-- "Why do we always fall into this PC cliche that ...men are shallow ?...Kathe Kollwitz was a great artist, but not,sadly, a hottie."

res ipsa loquitur.

1/06/2010 7:32 PM  
Anonymous Another Anon said...

Wouldn't it be more "PC" to say that men and women are both complex and simple at the same time? Regardless, I believe it. I think it's just as insulting to paint all men as shallow, base creatures with no self control, emotional sensitivity, or intellectual capacity, as it is to paint all women as shallow, humorless, vain, inscrutable creatures with no sense whatsoever. The longer I live, the more complex human beings as a whole seem to me. Here I was hoping artists, of all people, would want to celebrate that over petty, cliched gender disputes.

1/06/2010 8:32 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Another Anon-- I'm afraid the notion that artists rise above pettiness is even more of a false cliche than the notion that all men are base and shallow. But I wouldn't worry about it too much; there are many strains of truth through this dialogue but I suspect that most of the sweeping generalizations-- including mine-- are offered somewhat tongue in cheek.

1/06/2010 10:34 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/07/2010 6:51 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"Why do we always fall into this PC cliche that women are mostly deep and mysterious while men are shallow and devoid of subtlety or sophistication?"

white male guilt. it makes us feel better about the injustices of the past and present to put women on a pedestal (... again, but this time for their minds rather than their bodies).



"...but because men just ain't that complex"


i don't believe that and don't believe you do either (your blog would have a lot less traffic if all the obvious simpletons of the XY persuasion left).
i can't see what tired old sexism like that is meant to achieve, unless it makes the user feel superior as one of the more 'complex' males (who understands women too... bonus !)


"Like their facial features, men tend to be more obvious than women"


again, you could reverse this idea and say "like their facial features, men tend to be more complex than women",
but i wouldn't use 1950s/60s comic strip art of hunks and pretty ladies as a place to look for significant truths about the sexes myself.

1/07/2010 7:14 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Are women deep and mysterious? Have you ever known a woman to keep a secret?
Women blurt out all the intimate details of their own and their familiy and friends as soon as they start gabbing.
Men are notoriously much more reticent about their personal lives and talk about sports and politics to avoid revealing too much about what they really think and feel.
Men are much more multi-faceted and complex than they are given credit for.It is only lazy journalism and advertising that perpetuates this male stereotype.
I would suspect that by far the readership of this blog is heavily biased towards men... and we're not exactly discussing baseball, cage-fighting or power drills here.

1/07/2010 7:41 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Chris said: "I would suspect that by far the readership of this blog is heavily biased towards men"

Most men are nearly as confused, clueless and dominated by their emotions as women are. Talking about sports or politics to conceal your true thoughts and feelings doesn't sound like a good way to spend your life. What progress can be made by keeping your thoughts to yourself? That sounds like something to be expected of a slave.

"Women blurt out all the intimate details of their own and their familiy and friends as soon as they start gabbing."

If someone can easily blurt out their intimate details like that then it stands to figure that there was never much to gain or lose by doing it. This is why women are so much more open and honest about their emotions than men are. There's not much at stake. I know that sounds awful, but is it false?

"Are women deep and mysterious?"

They are as deep and mysterious as you are willing to let them appear. It's all in the eye of the beholder after all, isn't it? The same goes for any sense of depth and mystery that women see in men.

I, for one, am not biased towards men. However, I do admit an unfair "bias" for what's true. It can't be helped, it's just the way I turned out.

1/08/2010 2:13 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

"Talking about sports or politics to conceal your true thoughts and feelings doesn't sound like a good way to spend your life. What progress can be made by keeping your thoughts to yourself? That sounds like something to be expected of a slave"

It's a self-protection thing-instinctive- like trying to persuade a dog not to lick it's balls. Can't be done.

"If someone can easily blurt out their intimate details like that then it stands to figure that there was never much to gain or lose by doing it. This is why women are so much more open and honest about their emotions than men are. There's not much at stake. I know that sounds awful, but is it false?"

Wrong.I take it you haven't had girlfriends discuss ,for example, the intimate details of your sex life? What you have to lose is your privacy, which I would say is quite important.

1/12/2010 3:45 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

Chris said: "It's a self-protection thing-instinctive- like trying to persuade a dog not to lick it's balls. Can't be done.

I had no idea that dogs licking their balls was an issue of survival. Anyway, I'm pretty sure it could be done if the dog was punished every time it tried to lick itself. And if men could be made to see how keeping their mouths shut over issues they really care about is not really in their best interests, they'd have an easier time changing their own behavior. I don't agree that keeping such things to yourself is good for survival in the long run. Not speaking up when you see something you disagree with never helped anybody in the long term.

Wrong.I take it you haven't had girlfriends discuss ,for example, the intimate details of your sex life? What you have to lose is your privacy, which I would say is quite important.

That's exactly what I'm talking about. Intimate sexual details? That's temporarily embarrassing at worst. Hardly the end of the world, chicken little.

1/13/2010 3:17 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Well, it sounds like you'd have a fine old time with your 'girlfriends', discussing make-up, lipstick and comparing notes on your 'boyfs'.

Re Instinct;
"Scientists use the terms instinct and instinctive behaviour only for activity that involves neither experience nor learning."

No mention of the word 'Survival' here.Although I would grant that our (Men's) guardedness is a defensive trait and hard-wired, not anti-social or curmudgeonly.

Laters

1/13/2010 10:35 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

you'd have a fine old time with your 'girlfriends', discussing make-up, lipstick and comparing notes on your 'boyfs'.

Well, if I ever did such silly things and had it exposed to the world, I'd get over it eventually because they are meaningless and trivial. You sound like you'd be crippled for life by it.

(Men's) guardedness is a defensive trait and hard-wired, not anti-social or curmudgeonly.

I agree that "guardedness" is hard-wired but the particular things we are guarded about are not. The more insight a person develops, the less guarded they become about things that terrified them when they were younger or more ignorant.

1/13/2010 4:43 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Yeah, because we all want to hear 'mature' people talking about their incontinence or erectile disfunction, don't we?
No thanks.
Reticence is an undervalued quality in today's world.
Give it a try.

1/13/2010 8:38 PM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

"Reticence is an undervalued quality in today's world.
Give it a try."


The funny thing is, I am.

1/14/2010 12:21 AM  
Blogger sinner said...

it's really pretty difficult to draw perfect angles on faces but your post will indeed be a great help to all artists who have difficulty in drawing faces...

hey, check out this site--> digital illustration

1/20/2010 9:27 AM  
Blogger Becky Vigor said...

Interesting, it had never occurred to me that men's faces might be easier to draw than women so started reading wondering what you were talking about. I realised it's because my drawings are always very tonal so curves and rounded forms are a gift to me. Strange how what seems obvious to one artist often never even occurs to another!

1/20/2010 7:50 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Chris and Theory of Me-- while I generally find men are more obvious than women, I am not quite at the stage where I am willing to draw the sweeping conclusions that you do regarding women's nature. It is usually pretty easy to find a contrary example for any claim you want to make about "female nature." Scientists tell us that when we find an example of behavior outside of the laws of nature, we don't say it is "unnatural," we redefine the laws of nature. Nature is as nature does-- and I think that goes for human nature as well.

1/23/2010 12:14 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Sinner and Becky-- thanks, I enjoyed checking out your sites.

1/23/2010 12:16 AM  
Blogger theory_of_me said...

David said: "It is usually pretty easy to find a contrary example for any claim you want to make about "female nature."

I don't really talk about "female nature" per se. I prefer to use the terms "masculine" and "feminine" to describe the dual aspects of ego within all people, regardless of gender. All people are both masculine (active, conscious, solitary, willful, deliberate) and feminine (passive, unconscious, engaged, willing, spontaneous) to varying degrees. With that in mind, any female whose actions run contrary to the general behavior displayed by most women is acting more masculine by default.

I know of women who are a lot more masculine than the average female but they are exceptionally rare. Highly masculine males are also extremely rare but since men have evolved to be more masculine than women in general, they are not quite as rare. All the great spiritual leaders and philosophers we have records of were males in the extreme range of masculinity (Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Eckhart). I can't name any females whose work has impressed me nearly as much as theirs but the few examples I can find are clearly of the same masculine spirit.

So if you want to talk about real liberation for women, there's no choice but to go the masculine route.

1/26/2010 1:19 AM  
Blogger Iron Chef Kosher! said...

If it's women who can't keep a secret, why is it that women are the ones who "get reputations" and men don't? Believe me, the term "locker room talk" was NOT coined because of what women do.

I do realize that you are discussing women not being "dark & mysterious" because women will discuss themselves - but, by the same token, this would necessarily mean that men are "untrustworthy" because they discuss others.

So I posit that men & women equally blab, and it's unfair to say one sex "blurts" because the secrets they divulge are different from the ones you discuss.

2/20/2010 8:11 PM  
Blogger Elise Floriana Leto said...

Why from what the writer says have you all gone onto the Mind thinking side away from the protrait depicting and spirituality hidden in women's faces?
LA MENTE mente ~ the Mind lies! Art is not to be discussed just loved and felt and message to be capted.

5/22/2013 4:34 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home