Monday, January 14, 2013

It's all in the eyes

I'd been drawing animals for a bunch of years when I started to feel like a bit of an odd bod. As I spent hours looking at portraits by other animal artists, I noticed that I wasn't doing what many of them did.

I didn't start a portrait by drawing the subject's eyes. Nope. My portraits always looked hollow eyed and rather meaningless up until just about the last minute. I had no idea why I left them til last. I only know that they weren't the first thing I wanted to focus on as I started a new picture.
I've literally spent years wondering why I do this when pretty much all of the artists I've read up on go straight for the eyes and start drawing there.
I think I may have found an answer...
I discovered Joanna Powell Colbert gorgeous Gaian Tarot recently and read the following: "I believe that after I’ve spent countless hours looking at the reference photo as I work on the piece, the energy of the face and the “being” represented is somehow imprinted on me psychically. S/he comes through my hand and my pencils and then to the viewer."

WOW! I thought. That's it. That is why I draw the animal's eyes right at the end of the drawing process. All that time spent staring at the subject helps me connect to their energy so that by the time it comes to drawing the most important part of the picture, I have a sense of who they really are and I think I also have a better feel for their personalities. 

This must be a purely instinctive thing, because I can't say that I necessarily notice anything different, other than not wanting to draw the eyes at the start. It just doesn't feel right to start with the eyes and draw outwards. 

That's the best reason I've come across and it resonates with me. I love watching a drawing emerge on the paper in front of me. Finishing it off with the animal's eyes is like putting the cherry on top.

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