Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Br'er Fox and other musings


I am old enough to remember Walt Disney's Song of the South, a short animated movie that told some of the tales of Uncle Remus, the Tar Baby story being the primary one. The hero of those stories is Br'er Rabbit, but the villain of the piece is often Br'er Fox or Br'er Bear. I suppose the stories are no longer considered politically correct, as they are a white man's retelling of old Slave stories. Joe Chandler Harris wrote the stories in dialect to approximate how they would have been spoken by an old black ex-slave. Is the dialect accurate, probably not, between that and the mere fact that a white man was doing the writing will offend some now. It is too bad, the stories are wonderful, or at least I think they are. My memory of them doesn't include any racial slurs as such, unlike Thorton Burgess's tales. I used to own a couple of Burgess's books and was appalled to find mixed in with one of the stories about nature what I would call a racial slur. He of course was only reflecting the attitudes of the time (1874 - 1965).  Since otherwise he wrote some wonder stories about nature it is too bad, On the Green Meadows was my favorite.

Anyway the fox in the above drawing reminded me of Uncle Remus and the stories of the fox and the rabbit. Course my fox is chasing a mouse and not a rabbit, but just drawing a fox brought those other stories to mind. I am rather pleased with my active friend who is modeled after a real fox not one of the classic illustrations. I have already finished a rabbit, so now I need to finish off the bear and I will have three of the animals in the stories illustrated.

Below is my figure drawing from last evening:


I find this a much more successful drawing than I have done the past couple of weeks. Not sure where my mojo had run off too, but it wasn't working on Monday nights. Last weeks drawing particularly has bothered me. Scott has suggested that I might want to redraw the pose in my sketchbook even just as thumbnails to see if I can work out where I went wrong with it.

I think it is one of those drawings where even if you draw everything correctly it doesn't look right because the brain is looking for a subtle distortion that really isn't there. Hmm, I don't think I have phrased that understandably. The brain is as much a part of "seeing" the real world as the eyes are, when you look at something the brain interprets it for you. This factor is one reason why it is difficult to draw from photographs, when you look at a scene live the brain automatically ignores a lot of the details which show up in a photograph and can be distracting. Sorry I digress a bit, but I think something similar happens when viewing some poses. In real life the brain interprets what it sees a certain way, but putting the pose on paper even if it is really accurate is not the way the brain "sees" it. That discrepancy makes the drawing look off. Ingres was known for distorting his figures in subtle ways that the viewer doesn't notice and makes them come alive. One of my goals is to learn to do the same.

That is it for today. Per usual comments are always welcome.