Thursday, September 10, 2009

Velazquez Rediscovered

There is an interesting article this morning in the New York Times about a Velazqeuz portrait in the Metropolitan.  For those who were working recently in class on a portrait, notice several things.  

Look at the highlights on the nose.  The highlight line along the nose is not simply a straight line.  It follows the turning edge of the nose; it follows the form.  It provides information about the nose.   The nose is made up of several forms, not one.  There is the nose itself, with a front plane and two side planes, the ball of the nose and the two wings of the nostrils.  Each of the forms follows the rules of light theory.   In the Velazqeuz portrait, in addition to the highlight line on the nose itself, the ball of the nose has a highlight. What about the nostril? Notice the up-plane of the nostril.  There is a stroke of lighter value that indicates this plane.  It is not a highlight.  It is an upturned plane receiving light from above and while lighter than the surrounding planes is is usually not as light in value as the highlight.  If the subject has a very pronounced nostril form, the nostril can have both a crest line and a highlight.

Pay attention to the keystone of the brow, near the bridge, where the nose ends and the brow begins.  There is a plane change at this point and the highlight line ends here.  It is very important to be correct about this point because misplacing it will indicate that the nose is longer or shorter than it is - even when the drawing is correct!  

Lastly, notice how little detail Velazquez used on the shadow side of the face. There is really very little there beyond the shape and value of the combined shadow planes.

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