INSTRUCTOR IN DRAWING AND LECTURER ON THE CONSTRUCTION AND ANATOMY OF THE HUMAN FIGURE, ART STUDENTS' LEAGUE NEW YORK. ALSO AUTHOR OF
THE BOOK OF A HUNDRED HANDS AND BRIDGMAN's LIFE DRAWING
The drawings that are presented here show the conceptions that have proved simplest and most effective in constructing the human figure.
The eye in drawing must follow a line or a plane or a mass. In the process of drawing, this may become a moving line, or a moving plane, or a moving mass. The line, in actual construction, must come first; but as mental construction must precede physical, so the concept of mass must come first, that of plane second, that of line last.
Think in masses, define them in lines.
Masses of about the same size or proportion are conceived not as masses, but as one mass; those of different proportions, in respect to their movement, are conceived as wedging into each other, or as morticed or interlocking.
The effective conception is that of wedging.
Bones constitute the pressure system of the body. In them are expressed, therefore, laws of architecture, as in the dome of the head, the arches of the foot, the pillars of the legs, etc.; and laws of mechanics, such as the hinges of the elbows, the levers of the limbs, etc.
Ligaments constitute the retaining or tension system, and express other laws of mechanics.
Muscles constitute the contractile or power system; they produce Action by their contrAction or shortening. In contrAction they are lifted and bulged, while in their relaxed state they are flabby and soft. Muscles, attached to and acting on the bony and ligamentous systems, constitute the motion system. In the muscles are expressed, therefore, laws of dynamics and of power.
For instance, for every muscle pulling in one direction, there must be the corresponding muscle pulling in the opposite direction. Muscles are therefore paired, throughout the body. Every muscle on the right side must be paired with one on the left; for every flexor on the front there must be its corresponding extensor on the back.
Muscles express also laws of leverage; they are large in proportion to the length of the lever they move. Those of the individual fingers are small and can fit in between the bones of the hand. They grow larger as we ascend the arm, the leverage being longer and the weight greater. The muscles of the forearm are larger than those of the fingers; those of the arm larger than those ot the forearm, while the muscles of the shoulder are larger still.
Masses and Movements of the Body
The masses of the head, chest and pelvis are unchanging.
Whatever their surface form or markings, they are as masses to be conceived as blocks.
The conception of the figure must begin with the thought of these blocks in their relation to each other. They are to be thought of first as one thinks of the body of a wasp, with only one line connecting them, or without reference at all to connecting portions.
Ideally, in reference to gravitation, these blocks would be balanced symmetrically over each other. But rarely in fact, and in Action never, is this the case. In their relations to each other they are limited to the three possible planes of movement. That is, they may be bent forward and back in the sagittal plane, twisted in the horizontal plane, or tilted in the transverse plane. Almost invariably, in fact, all three movements are present, to different degrees.
In these various movements, the limit is the limitation to movement of the spine. The spine is the structure that connects one part of the body with another. It is a strong column occupying almost the centre or axis of the body, of alternating discs of bone and very elastic cartilage. Each segment is a joint, whose lever extends backward to the long groove of the back. Such movement as the spine allows the muscles also allow, and are finally connected by the wedges or lines of the actual contour.
CONSTRUCTION : Masses and Movements of the Body : Tilting of the Masses
CONSTRUCTION : The Horizontal Sagittal and Transverse Planes: Tilted and Twisted