Preface and Acknowledgments
Elongating the Figure using
Verticals, Horizontals, and Diagonals
Beginning a Vocabulary of Shapes
Composing the Figure within
The Computer and Illustration
Fabric, Prints, and Texture
Finding Your Voice
Breaking the Rules
Preface and Acknowledgments
Anyone can learn to draw. Just as anyone can throw a ball, pirouette, or play a violin, anyone can make a drawing. For some, it is natural; for others, lacking natural skill, it’s a labor of love motivated by passion. I assumed I was of the former variety until, in my first semester at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, I was informed by a professor that I was of the latter and should rethink my artistic pursuit. Drawing fashion had been a passion of mine since childhood and I asked what I could do to remain in the Fashion Illustration program. “Draw!” was the reply. “You will need to draw, draw, and draw. Draw everything, anything, anytime, or anyplace, just draw it.”
And I did.
I began to fi ll sketchbook after sketchbook with drawings. I drew my friends, my apartment, my laundromat; I drew my cat, my hat, and faces on the bus or train. I drew from photos, memory, and ideas, but mainly I drew from life. Drawing from life is challenging and nurtures a better sense of draftsmanship and observation skills.
I got better.
My drawings improved to the extent that the very same professor, astonished at my progress, commended me by nominating me for an award. That professor, Rosemary Torres, became a friend and put me on the right path to honing my skills. Encouraged, I started taking additional classes at the Philadelphia College of Art (now the Art Institute of Philadelphia), the Fashion Institute of Technology, the School of Visual Arts, Parsons School of Art and Design, and the Art Students League.
I loved the energy and environment of drawing studios, with a circle of artists at easels surrounding a model stand. I spent many years as a student in these environments with many extraordinary teachers. Jack Potter introduced a series of premises usually involving shape as a backdrop for drawing. Barbara Pearlman’s classes were characterized by the opera music blaring from the stereo that infiltrated the drawings through a line that was emotional yet concise. Ana Ishikawa balanced both shape and line in figures that were grounded through anatomy and diagonals. Steven Meisel charged the room with energy; Jane Bixby Weller slowed it down with knowledge and calculated charm. Peter Hristoff broke the rules and Judy Mannarino reinvented them. Each instructor’s style inspired and challenged the artist through a variety of ideas revolving around one theme: drawing the figure. When I became a teacher, I wanted to motivate, inspire, and challenge my students as those instructors had me. Teaching presented the challenge of how to communicate my experiences, ideas, and exercises into a fifteen-week semester.
I started by incorporating Jack Potter’s formula of weekly premises, which I defined as visual words forming a vocabulary for drawing. I forwarded this idea with exercises that not only simplified the figure in terms of line and shape, but incorporated texture, value, and chance against a backdrop of composition. My first realization was that consistency was important in order to communicate a different set of ideas each week. That consistency came in the shape of the figure, literally. I now use this shape—the figure—as a template to investigate the weekly exercises. My next realization was that throughout the fifteen-week semester, the skills that the exercises provided to the students went far beyond the scope of a course in fashion drawing or illustration; these were tools or words in a visual vocabulary that would serve the students in many creative disciplines outside of the class as well. Sometimes life comes full circle, and the opportunity to present this information to a wider audience occurred in the same hallway where I was once told that I should rethink my major. An esteemed colleague and friend, Professor Karen Santry, presented me with the opportunity of writing this book. And I did.
I am indebted to the generosity of those artists who gave permission to allow their work to be reprinted, and to my colleagues at the Fashion Institute of Technology, especially Karen Santry, who presented me with this opportunity and challenge; Karen Cannell, Head of Special Collections, who procured the images from the Frances Neady Collection, and Kristen Rock and Rocío Cintrón, who assisted in archiving, scanning, and formatting those images. I‘ve been fortunate to work with Laurence King Publishing, and thank all of my taskmasters who are now valued friends: Laurence King, for his patience and support in allowing me to shape this book; Lee Ripley, my publishing editor, a visionary with a sharp eye and style, who was the first to recognize the uniqueness and signifi cance of this book; my editor, Anne Townley, who shares my passion and enabled that passion and my voice to surface through the written word; my managing editor, John Jervis, who was responsible for bringing this book to completion; Claire Murphy, who relentlessly sought and procured the guest art work. Also, a special mention to Charlie Bolton and Angus Hyland, who translated the information into a simple yet sophisticated format that creates a striking and beautiful backdrop that illuminates the information. Most importantly, my partner, Ken Nintzel, who was unwavering in his support and faith in the mission of the book. Above all, this book is my homage to the artists, teachers, and students who have inspired me; it is my attempt to share the magic.
This book is unique.
The exercises are geared toward illustrators with the intention of simplifying the principles and ideas that are associated with the genre of fashion illustration and the lifestyle market. Although the figure is initially used as a template to examine these principles and ideas, this book is not only about drawing the traditional fashion illustration figure. There are no systematic charts of nine or ten heads to measure a typical first croquis. The focus is not on how to draw a collar or cuff, or render fur or satin, or draw an eye. The idea is not to reinforce a particular method of drawing. Instead, the exercises in the book challenge the student to reinvent their notions of looking and drawing and to analyze the visual of the figure in terms of line, shape, and value.
This book is geared toward the advanced student who has a working knowledge of the figure and drawing. However, the information provided will be of use to anyone at any level, as the exercises promote observation and draftsmanship. Structured around the method of using weekly sessions to expand the visual vocabulary of students, the book is primarily about the possibilities of drawing the figure and capturing a lifestyle.
Lifestyle illustration can seem an elusive term that defies definition. “Lifestyle” reflects the style of dress, environment, entertainment, consumption, and social habits of a culture. Illustrations that visually capture the essence of the lifestyle of a segment of society are, therefore, defined as lifestyle illustration. Advertising and promotional campaigns are geared toward such targeted audiences; the role of the illustrator working in this market is to create an illustration that not only reflects a particular lifestyle but also is attractive to the audience. This can be achieved by incorporating a fashion sensibility into an illustration, whether it is of a fashion show, luxury hotel suite, cruise ship, cocktail glass, or urban skateboarders.
The aim of this book is to provide the artist with the tools to transform the most mundane of settings into a stylized and graphic visual. In addition, because the exercises focus on thinking and choice, the information is not limited to a lifestyle market; they can as easily be applied to the genres of caricature, graphic novels, and general illustration as well.