Exercise 3: A portrait from memory. This exercise is intended to test how easy it is to create a portrait from memory.
I had been reading quite a bit about the rules of proportion and position of facial features; the eyes are spaced by an eye, the equilateral triangle that connects the eyes and the mouth, the mouth sitting on the 1/3 line etc etc. The most intriguing was a “mechanical method” described in Hamm, 1996.
I thought it would be a good learning experience to try these different rules and approaches.
This exercise prompts questions about what is a portrait – is it a physical representation or in some way reflect the character, life, soul if you like of the subject. This reminds me of the works of Plato and Aristotle. Both believed that there were ideal pure forms that existed and life and art merely imitated these perfect forms. Plato felt that art imitated life which was itself an imitation (Grant, 2011); Aristotle felt that great art could be a closer imitation of the underlying perfect form than life itself (Rowan 2017) That might give room for abstract and expressionistic work that Plato would otherwise not recognise as art.
I find it fascinating that my approach of applying rule and logic to “generate” the portrait produces an unworldly feel. It also quite fun it ended up looking a little like an ancient Greek marble bust.
I deliberately left in all the intersecting lines and circles as that gave me a really nice set of planes and shapes that I could use in a semi-abstract way to indicate some form of a landscape – again unworldly but recognisable.
Although the portrait does not look like a real person it has the feel of an imitation. Yes, it looks artificial, perhaps robot like but it doesn’t look soulless to me – perhaps in a very small way it is is more Aristotle than Plato.
Hamm, J. (1996). Drawing the head and figure. USA: Time Warner International.
Grant, J. (2011). Plato’s Philosophy of Art. [podcast] Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art lectures. Available at: https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/aesthetics-and-philosophy-art-lectures [Accessed 9 Dec. 2017].
Rowan.edu. (2017). ARISTOTLE’S AESTHETICS. [online] Available at: http://www.rowan.edu/open/philosop/clowney/aesthetics/philos_artists_onart/aristotle.htm [Accessed 9 Dec. 2017].