mardi, novembre 17, 2009

Face of Beauty

Second day in the countdown for november 22.

Tuesday: Face of John F. Kennedy

I am repeating myself when I say that to me, JFK's biggest mystery has always been the fact that he is beautiful – without being it. Especially his « hanging » eyes with the over-developed lower eyelids certainly do not match the classical criteria for « beauty ».


Even tough, he is considered good looking by a majority of people. A huge challenge, especially for an artist. How can I render his beauty ...all while drawing the eyes?

Some time ago, I decided to solve the mystery by the means of « science ». I carefully measured his face and discovered that it has perfect proportions, meaning that every lenght, thickness and so on keeps repeating in other parts of his face. Measuring other faces made it obvious that he has more of these harmonies than a majority of the people, including his wife Jacqueline.


This explains why one has to avoid even the slightest error when drawing him – the proportions can not differ as much as a millimeter - or the result will be simply, "not him".

This is very difficult and probably the reason why most of the JFK-portraits I know are not good. Not really. I don't exclude myself from this poor rate: To my feeling, only one out of 100 from my JFK drawings are halfway accurate. This gives me headaches, sometimes.


I have a photo of him where some Idiot tought it was a good idea to « overpaint » his "eye-rings" (the lower eyelids). On the contrary to what the idiot probably wanted, JFK doesn't look good this way. His face is just boring, like some kind of shallow dressman. The "rings" are needed to render his beauty. HIS kind of beauty.
That leads us to the everlasting but so seldom respected conclusion, that beauty is indeed individual. There may be some basic criteria, like  proportions in harmony, but there is also something in addition to that.
Let's talk a bit more about the eyes. In addition to their form and their underlying « charms », they were particular big. But this can only be seen on photos where he is in a darkened room. He was very vulnerable when it comes to bright sunlight and squinted his eyes most of the times, when he was outside. 

The above photos show the phenomenon very well.

Of course, we all may have that kind of reflex, but it was strongly developed on JFK. You will barely find a photo of him in normal light showing him with the eyes open like on the sepia photo at the right. As I already mentioned in another post, his eyes were not blue as most of the people think, but seaweed-green.

As for the nose and chin, they have both the particularity that they are just enough developed  to make him look manly, but still so much refined and gracile to give him the all over willowy look. Mouth and lips are drawn in perfection, without the slightest irregularity.

It's an old artistic tradition to draw people handsomer than they are. Idealising is the word.  With JFK, this doesn't work, because reality will always be better than any artwork. Or am I idealising right now? I think, all artists feel this way when talking about their muses. Maybe this actually is the very true nature of a muse.

Tomorrow: JFK's chest and arms

2 commentaires:

Geier a dit…

"Schön" im klassischen Sinne ist er sicher nicht, aber das hat den Vorteil, man kann JFK wenigstens zeichnen + erkennt wer es ist. Die meisten Schönlinge sind so 08/15 glattgebügelter Durchschnitt, daß einer wie der andere aussieht - besonders krass bei Frauen, die kann ich kaum auseinanderhalten.

Diana Kennedy a dit…

Bei Frauen ist es in der Tat extrem, was natürlich damit zusammenhängt, dass sich das weibliche Schönheitsideal auf praktisch einen einzigen Grundtypus verdichtet hat. Grad mal die Haarfarbe darf noch variieren. Nicht nur gezeichnet ist das ein Problem, auch in US-Serien kann ich manchmal die ganzen Blondinen nicht mehr voneinnader unterscheiden.