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Only for those who want to draw action comics
on January 30, 2016
There is something bizarre and spooky about Hogarth's figures. The sketchy ones look like demonic action figure heroes, the fully shaded ones look like the subjects have tumors all over their bodies. They are pictures of humanoids. It's hard to see how anything that Hogarth presents actually has to do with art. The making of art through figure drawing calls for sensibility, and Hogarth shows little to none of this. Look at drawings by Rubens or by Proudhon, with the grace and natural rhythms of the human form . Even an artist like Lucian Freud who refuses to prettify the body in any way has a deep feeling for it, and can convey the humanity of his subjects. If an artist lacks sensibility, no drawing, no matter how inventive, is going to resonate with the viewer.
Hogarth seems to think that figure drawings or paintings are interesting only if the figure is depicted as being in motion. This is simply false. He says that an art student becomes an artist when he/she is able to render figures in motion. Creating a work of artistic value demands much more than this.
Some of Hogarth's anatomical rendering tips are useful, as is his emphasis on the forms of the torso, but if you really want to learn to draw, do not rely on this book. For a look at what drawing is really all about, see the books by Sherrie McGraw or Juliette Aristides.