老師 (teacher) and I had a little bit of trouble with each other at my last lesson. He was a little high-strung and said I was not following his instructions. I was a little sensitive and felt that he should not expect me to draw as well as his other students who have been in this class for years.
So the little drama ended up with me rendering the China-born model into an African.
老師 taught us the 1/3 method in dividing the head and placing the various facial features on it. After a few lessons I still could not fathom how to place the nose and why he drew a big cross from the eye brows and mysteriously place the width of the nose correctly. When he said that I was not drawing the proportion of the eye-brows to width of face correctly to 1/5, I was quite indignant because he never taught me that before (that happens in a multi-level class because the teacher sometime assume you already know).
So I re-read Ms Betty’s method and much prefer her 1/2 face method, which is also a method more commonly found in drawing books. Drawing books also mention the 1/5 width division for the eye brows and in between the eyes, so I realise this is a standard rendering.
Lest I should be an ungrateful wench, let me add that 老師 is really patient and sweet all the time. Maybe that day he was having an artist mood swing, and just could not muster enough resources to deal with an inept beginner. And maybe that day I was going through PMS.
Van Gogh Drew A Flat Head Too
Whenever I feel a little discouraged about my progress in my journey to learn how to draw, I try to remember that the great artists started out as novices too.
This example below is an early sketch by Van Gogh. The drawing instruction book Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain cited it as an example of the error of “chopped off head” effect, when drawing students could not grasp the fullness of the head and seem to think that the head is smaller than it is. This is because beginners tend to focus too much on the features of a face as we think these are more important. As a result we forget about the proportion of the head.
Van Gogh worked as an artist only during the last ten years of his life. During the first two years of that decade when he was teaching himself how to draw, he only did drawings and apparently no painting.
On the facing page of the same book is this sketch 2 years later, showing that he had overcome his difficulties and increased the expressiveness of his drawings.
Quoting the Van Gogh example is a little excuse for myself (aka spoilt child meeting obstacles)．But it also gives me some needed courage that with lots of practise and lots of thick-skin perseverance, I can progress over time too.
“…at the time when you spoke of mine becoming a painter, I thought it very impractical and would not hear of it. What made me stop doubting was reading a clear book on perspective, Cassange’s Guide to the ABC of Drawing: and a week later I drew the interior of a kitchen with stove, chair, table and window – in their places and on their legs – whereas before it had seemed to me that getting depth and the right perspective into a drawing was witchcraft or pure chance.” (Vincent Van Gogh, in a letter to his brother, Theo.)