Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two Things to Remember

Before his students graduate from the Hartford Art School, instructor Dennis Nolan sits each one of them down and gives them his intense wild-man look.

“You can forget everything else I taught you,” he tells them. “But I want you to remember just two things: how to place the horizon line, and how to draw an ear.”

Mr. Nolan told me that it’s rare to find a well-drawn ear these days, even among professional artists. “Most people forget to show the leg of the helix descending into the conchal fossa,” he said. “And not many artists know about Darwin’s tuber.”

Uh-oh, I thought to myself. I’m supposed to be a professional artist, but I’m not sure what he’s talking about.

So tonight after the workday is done I’m going to sit down and figure out the artistic anatomy of the ear. I’ll show you the results and we'll compare notes tomorrow.
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GJ post on the horizon line or eye level, part 1, part 2, and part 3.
GJ post on the Hartford Art School.

13 comments:

Victor said...

I have to admit that although I've been studying Vanderpoel's book on the Human Figure, the chapter on the ear is one I've skipped thus far. Now I'm definitely going to go back and read it!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Its 10 o'clock do you know where your tragus is?

i, me said...

I’m supposed to be a professional artist, but I’m not sure what he’s talking about.

JG, the mark of a professional, great artist is the realization ...well, I'll just let two greats say it:

From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie.

Hokusai



I am still learning.

Michelangelo

.........................

BTW, I just wanted to thank you for your blog - its one of the best resources online for artists, inspiring, informative, always interesting.

Jean Spitzer said...

Uh oh, indeed. Well, more to learn. Thanks. (And love the portrait).

clyde semler said...

Jim,

Now that I know we have legs in our ears, I'll try to get mine up and running. In your painting, both ear and horizon merge. So your prof should be doubly happy. It's just those quirky, pithy little bits of advice from good teachers that we never forget.

What a knockout watercolor. I'm guessing that is watercolor pencil and your favorite waterbrush? I'm hoping you have more of these intimate studies buried away and will continue to post them for us.

Steve said...

And how did the Liam to Bob quotation figure in the portrait?

James Gurney said...

Steve, that was a quote that Dennis mentioned to me. Apparently when Bob Dylan was early in his career, Liam Clancy advised him: No fear, no envy, and no meanness."

cegebe said...

I took a drawing class this spring at Studio Escalier in Paris, and the ear got its fair share of the attention. We were told to see it as made of interlocking shapes roughly similar to ram's horns. Some beautiful ear studies by our teacher, Tim Stotz, can be seen here: http://silverfortress.blogspot.com/2009/02/adeles-ears.html

donna said...

Actually, it's Darwin's tubercle...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin%27s_tubercle

A great way to see what your ear actually looks like is to smear paint on it and print it -- I have a really perfect one I did this way...

Olga Levitskiy said...

I have been following your blog ever since I heard you speak at the University of Hartford a few years ago. And was pleasantly surprised when I opened today’s post and saw a great portrait of Dennis. I have been lucky enough to have Dennis Nolan as a professor and I hope to never forget all that I’ve learned from him. I still find myself remembering his teachings each time I pick up a pencil. Thank you again for the post and also for your inspiring blog.

Shawn Escott said...

Wow, that is a kind of crazy intense look in his eyes. I would be absolutely sure that i could draw an ear from any angle after seeing him look at me like that. LOL!

On a side note: I've been reading your book on sketching and there is so much info in there. What I love about it is that you took the time to describe the tools, techniques, and even the little secrets that make sketching great. I have to admit, it is a bit intimidating. Especially those quick drawings, WOW!!!

Drew said...

Good luck with your ear study!

A fun fact about ears: before fingerprints, ears were used for identification for criminals, since apparently like our fingerprints, no two ears are alike.

Doug said...

DENNIS NOLAN RULES!