Poking a nose out of my comfort zone

Noses are hard

One of my projects for this year is to learn to draw. And that means that somehow, sometime, I need to figure out how to draw noses.

Think about it. Eyes are fairly easy – they’ve got eyelashes, which are usually dark like a pencil line, to outline them, and the iris and pupil are nice and dark too. Lips aren’t too hard either, since there’s a noticeable boundary between the lips and the rest of the face that justifies using an outline to show the mouth.

But noses? In profile they’re no big deal, but head-on they blend right into the rest of the face! You can’t show the shape without making it look like your subject’s nose is on sideways. Or can you??

Well, artists can. I’ve tried to draw noses by using what I can figure out on my own, and the results look like nothing from this planet. So why not steal techniques from people who know what they’re doing?

I sat down with a book of drawings by Ingres – if you look hard enough in this house, you can find a book about just about anything – and copied Ingres noses for a while. Not as good as his, but much much better than I’ve been able to figure out by myself.

Then I tried drawing noses from photos.

Ingres was really, really good. (Surprise.)

I’ll need to spend a lot more time working on this. (Surprise.) But really, bad as these are, they’re the most convincing noses I ever drew.

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6 responses to “Poking a nose out of my comfort zone

  1. The trick with noses is “less is more”. If you are only just venturing into portraiture then these are brilliant.

    • I’ll remember that, and figure out how I can apply it! Yes, I am just trying portraiture – I think they’re awful, but then I know what I wanted them to look like, and that makes me supercritical. So thank you!

  2. I applaud you for venturing into the world or drawing! It takes time, care and detail and I think it’s the detail that I am lacking the most! As long as you’re having fun and you’re creative juices are flowing – then you’re on the right track!

    • I think – and I’m a long, long way from being an artist – that there are two sides to detail. There’s seeing the actual detail of what you’re trying to draw, instead of just putting down a standardized symbol (like the way young children trying to draw a house often draw a smallish box with a peaked roof, an enormous door, and a couple of oversized four-paned windows on either side of the door). Then there’s judging which details need to be included in your drawing! I’m not sure which one is harder, but I suspect it’s the second one.

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