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Characterisation

The Art Of Painting - Characterisation - 1, a brief series of articles on the art of painting and drawing
 
 
ARTISTICALLY speaking, it may be said that the perfectly symmetrical head, is lacking in "character"
The oval face ; the dual features the counterpart of each other ; the measurement from the top of the head to the brows, from the brows to the base of the nose, from the base of the nose to the end of the chin, which are all fairly equal in length ; the bow-shaped mouth ; the eyes parted by the length of one eye, and so on, would constitute a symmetrical head.
Although some such standard of measurement and regularity, both of the face and in a similar way of the body, might serve the ends of the painter and sculptor of cold classic figures and certain decorative schemes, they can only help the painter who is a student of nature as so many points of departure, for you will rarely find in real life anything approaching the regularity of the classic figures. Still, underlying all our personal observations, there is a consciousness more or less developed of the " perfect," for when we talk of a man with a long nose, of a woman with a short aristocratic upper lip, of a lean person or a short-limbed one, we are, perhaps unconsciously but no less certainly, comparing these features and characteristics with a set symmetrical standard of which we are conscious, and it is the variations from the standard—let it be of a leaf, of a hand, or of a face—that make for character.
The characteristics here instanced are obvious to the least discerning, but it is not only with the obvious that the painter has to deal. There would be little need to draw attention to that which is observed without effort, even though it may be hard enough to reproduce; but there are subtle variations that escape the untrained eye, and others with which the uninitiated have become so familiar as to let them pass unnoticed.



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