Thursday, January 28, 2010

Heritage Illustration Auction February 18, 2010

Heritage Auction Galleries has posted the online catalog for the upcoming February Illustration Auction. As always with Heritage, make sure to check out the high resolution scans available for each piece in the sale. Artists in the sale include J.C. Leyendecker, Norman Rockwell, Tom Lovell, Dean Cornwell, Andrew Loomis, Gil Elvgren, and many more.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Words of Wisdom: Nancy Guzik

"We all strive to become better artists technically, but it's the honesty of your own personal language coming through that really captivates the viewer," Guzik explains. "No other artist sees the world exactly as I do or feels what I feel- that story is mine alone to tell. When I start to ask myself questions as a person and a painter, try to understand why I'm drawn to a certain subject matter, and become vulnerable enough to paint what's inside of me, that other dimension starts to come through in my work. We can see this with the painters who have made it- they seem to be connecting with their subjects on a higher level and searching for ways to put their heart and soul into every brushstroke."¹

¹ Allison Malafronte, Nancy Guzik: Finding an Authentic Voice in Today's Art World, "American Artist," (March 2010): p. 20.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Contest Winner! Masters & Pupils

Congratulations to Jeff Wand of Texas for correctly identifying ALL twenty-one painters in the last contest, and also the seven teachers responsible for shaping those pupils. It's no surprise that Jeff, who is a video game artist, was a pupil himself of one of the artists whose work is pictured, Glen Orbik, of the California Art Institute. Jeff didn't fall for any of the traps I set, including Row 6, in which all three pupils were students of R.H. Ives Gammell, but two were also students of Richard Lack. Great job, Jeff, and I hope you enjoy the books!


Row 1: Robert Maguire, Clark Hulings, James Bama - Students of Frank Reilly
Row 2: Joyce Ballantyne, Richard Schmid, Gil Elvgren - Students of Bill Mosby
Row 3: Jeffrey Watts, Glen Orbik, Morgan Weistling - Students of Fred Fixler
Row 4: Nancy Guzik, Rose Frantzen, Dan Gerhartz - Students of Richard Schmid
Row 5: Anderew Loomis, Norman Rockwell, McClelland Barclay - Students of George Bridgman
Row 6: Richard Whitney, Paul DeLorenzo, Allan Banks - Students of R.H. Ives Gammell
Row 7: Jacob Collins, Michael Grimaldi, Anthony Ryder - Students of Ted Seth Jacobs

* There are a few neat connections in this family tree of artists: Clark Hulings was also a student of George Bridgman, Paul DeLorenzo and Allan Banks were also both students of Richard Lack (who was a student of Gammell), and Ted Seth Jacobs and Fred Fixler were also both students of Frank Reilly.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Defining Beauty: Symmetry in the Human Face

Head Construct by Giovanni Civardi

In all artist constructs of the proportions of the adult face, from daVinci to Loomis, symmetry plays an important role in the human design, but why is symmetry important? Isn't character and variation from the "norm" just as likely to be alluring? According to recent scientific research, the significance of symmetry is that it aids in representing "averageness" and averageness may be the most notable attribute of attractiveness. It may be possible, however, that some people are just "more average" than others.

It seems that all humans, no matter their culture, are hard-wired to be attracted to averageness. The reason for this attraction is simple: an average, symmetrical face is associated with a potential mate who has a better ability to fight off diseases and infection and who would "pass on this fitness advantage to future offspring."¹ People with more distinct features, even those in the prime of their reproductive years, are less attractive because it is thought they have a poorer health background. "Distinctiveness is, by default, thought of as bad because, (says Lisa DeBruine, an experimental psychologist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland), 'there are more ways to be nonaverage and ugly than there are ways to be nonaverage and beautiful.'"²

That humans are attracted to other people with a better genetic profile is not just an assumption. In a recent study, Hanne Lie, and her colleagues Gill Rhodes and Leigh Simmons, all of the University of Western Australia in Perth, determined that there is a direct correlation between "attractive" people and diversity in those people's MHC (major histocompatibility complex- the principal determinant in tissue type and transplant compatibility). MHC, a cluster of 128 genes and their surrounding genetic material, plays an important role in the immune system,³ and in some tests, diversity in this segment is a predictor of reproductive success in some mammals.

"Averageness, one researcher quipped, could account for as much as 85 percent of good looks. Here, average does not mean dull or boring, but rather nondescript, lacking distinct or dramatic features. In the late 1870s, Sir Francis Galton combined photos of men convicted of serious crimes to develop an image of the prototypical criminal's face. He found the composite image-with its smoothed out features and absence of irregularities--surprisingly attractive. More than a century later, in the early 1990s, psychologist Judith Langlois, now at the University of Texas at Austin, and her colleagues confirmed that blended faces are more attractive than the originals. (Averaged faces are also preferred by infants; babies stare at composites longer.)"⁴

Dr. Stephen Marquardt's Beauty Mask, discussed in an earlier post, may actually be a better representation of the average, rather than of the beautiful. Brad Pitt, who is considered by the majority to be a particularly handsome man, was far from a good fit when his image was mapped with the Phi Mask. Pitt's features which do not match the framework of the Mask, are facial distinctions which actually enhance his attractiveness. His non-average qualities, such as his strong jaw line, are examples of sexual dimorphism in the human species. Basically, the areas in which Pitt does not match the Mask are in his features which show off his maleness.

Brad's accentuated chin just makes him more masculine.

Sorry, Mr. Leno. Too much of a good thing isn't as attractive as averageness.

Sexual dimorphism accounts for the characteristics which make men masculine, and women feminine. Big eyes, small chins, high cheekbones, and larger lips in women, and pronounced brow ridges, thin lips, and strong chins in men are all variations from the norm which make a person more attractive. These are features which many artists have exploited over the years to create the archetypical leading men and women in advertising illustration.

Notice the traits of sexual dimorphism, and how the woman's posture adds to her attractiveness

Visual representations of sexual dimorphism are more important in determining the attractiveness of men in a static image, than they are of a woman, however. Woman's beauty is often enhanced by movement, which is harder to portray in a painting. Blinking, nodding, and head tilting are all indicators of femininity⁵ and all add in making a woman's face more attractive. Men, whose facial movements are often more subdued than those of women, rely more on their physical traits rather than expression for communicating their attractiveness.

Symmetrical Brad Pitt: Right/Right

Symmetrical Brad Pitt: Left/Left

Though symmetry is known to be important in determining attractiveness, how humans perceive it is a bit of a mystery. In most cases, test subjects cannot even pinpoint symmetrical faces in a group of photographs, but when asked to pick out attractive faces, they will indeed pick out the most symmetrical visages. However, women shown only one-half of a man's face could still determine if the subject was attractive, even not knowing if the face was balanced. And not any face with mirrored halves will do, either. Human beings have a bias for the right side of the face (the left side of the face when looking at the subject). Right-right combinations are preferred two-thirds of the time.

How does this information best benefit the artist? If you are someone who is working in the classical style, rather than someone doing accurate portraits, there are several ideas here to keep in mind when creating the figures in your paintings:

  • The three aspects of visual, facial beauty are symmetry, averageness, and sexual dimorphism.
  • Include traits of sexual dimorphism- big eyes, small chin, high cheekbones, full lips, etc. in women; pronounce brow ridge, thin lips, strong chin, etc. in men.
  • Symmetrical head constructs are good starting points for crafting attractive faces.
  • Average looks are more attractive than distinct features.
  • Blended features are more attractive. This also supports the adage that "less is more" when painting women; smooth features are more beautiful.
  • Variations from the norm or average, can be attractive if those variations fall along the lines of masculine/feminine accents. Too large a variation is too distinct, and is less attractive.
  • Movement relates to attractiveness. Be aware of poses and postures which aid in portraying masculinity and femininity.
  • When trying to create a symmetrical face when working from the model, features from the subject's right side, when mirrored, are more attractive.

¹ It's Written All Over Your Face: To Potential Mates, Your Mug May Reveal more Than You Think, "Science News," January 17, 2009, retrieved from {'s+written+all+over+your+face:+to+potential+mates,+your+mug+may
² ibid.
³ ibid.
⁴ ibid.
⁵ ibid.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Defining Beauty: Harrison Fisher (1877-1934)

A countless procession of models has posed for (Harrison Fisher). In almost every instance, when he has suggested a certain pose to one of his models, she will say: "Oh, no! Don't draw that side. This side is much better." Much self-examination has taught her at what angle she looks her very prettiest. The reason models have learned so much is this:"'they have been sketched and photographed hundreds of times. They learn from the pictures of themselves. A photograph reveals and exaggerates defects in a way that a mirror does not, for most persons when they look into a mirror unconsciously set their features into an expression they have long before decided they liked best. But a photograph not only catches us as we are much of the time but it brings out strongly all defects and lack of symmetry. If the nose is deflected slightly to one side (and almost all noses are), a photograph which emphasizes one cheek will make the nose look long and strange; if it shows the other cheek, the nose will look flatteringly short and straight.

In fact, it is said that if one had two photographs taken of the right side of the face, and then had one of them reversed, the resulting ensemble would not be perfect--there would be a difference.

Models who have been photographed and sketched hundreds of times know all this.

" Some of my models," Mr. Fisher said, " confide to me that when they go to a restaurant to dine with a man they always arrange that their escort sits at such and such a table and in such and such a chair, so that all during the evening he will be gazing upon the girl from a point of view which is the most complimentary to her prettiness.

" These girls know that one eyebrow is different from the other (and, of course, they like the prettier eyebrow better). Or the ear on one side is better. Or the teeth are not so straight and even on one side as on the other." Of course, I think that these irregularities are often the very things that enhance a girl's looks and make her beautiful. Eyebrows that are different--one higher than the other--can be charming. Even defects are sometimes fascinating. I have seen girls who have had a slight cast in one eye, or who have eyes of a little different color, or who are ever so slightly walleyed, who are more magnetic and attractive because of these things.

" The kind of girl I have admired and drawn a great deal (so much so that it is the kind of girl that is demanded of me, and so I will probably continue to draw her for the rest of my life) is a girl with a straight, short nose, blunt but well-shaped. I think of it as a blonde's nose frank, childish, honest. Among the girls who pose for me, this seems to be the kind of a nose they admire most. Usually if they haven't one, they wish they did."Almost every girl, says Mr. Fisher, unless the bony structure of her face is malformed, has the possibility of good looks.

Alexandra Grey, Has Your Face a Better Side? The Views of Harrison Fisher, magazine article from the 1920s, retrieved January 11, 2010 from {}.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Defining Beauty: Dr. Stephen R. Marquardt

Californian Dr. Stephen R. Marquardt is a retired oral and maxillofacial surgeon who has spent the last several decades in pursuit of creating an objective standard for judging the beauty of the human face. Marquardt, through his foundation, Marquardt Beauty Analysis, has theorized that the highly visual human race has imprinted in its genetic code an archetypical image of what its fellow human beings should look like. The closer someone comes to matching that subconscious ideal of "humanness," the more positive emotional response will consciously be engendered in the viewer, and attraction will follow. It is his belief that this human archetype can be mapped mathematically, and after years of research, Marquardt put forward his controversial Facial Mask.

The shape of B-DNA fits perfectly inside the Golden Decagon Matrix

Using the Golden Ratio (1:1.618) as his basis, Marquardt constructed a two-dimensional figure called the Golden Decagon Matrix, a design which perfectly correlates with the shape of B-DNA , the most common form of DNA found in nature. Within the shape of a Primary Golden Decagon Matrix, forty-two secondary golden decagon matrices (each smaller than the Primary by a multiple of Phi [1.618]) were overlaid and uniquely positioned to form the various components of the human face. When the extraneous lines are removed, the resulting image is the Phi Mask or Facial Mask, composed of line segments and shapes which relate to each other through the Golden or Divine Proportion (1:1.618). The placement of the secondary matrices and the decisions as to which segments were removed were influenced by data collected by studying photographs of people "universally" considered beautiful (ie. supermodels).

The resulting mask structure is not only purported to represent the ideal facial features of adult women AND men, but it is also said to do so independently of race. MBA then uses this idealized map to outline dental and aesthetic surgical options for persons needing reconstructive procedures. Eventually, Dr. Marquardt would like to further refine the research providing separate facial guides for infants, children, and mature adults, as well as further developing an understanding of variations by ethnicity. He also plans to begin mapping the body as a whole to increase the knowledge of human physical beauty in its entirety.

Marlene Dietrich

Greta Garbo

Marilyn Monroe

Heather Locklear, smiling

On the MBA site, Marquardt offers several examples of the mask overlaid on the faces of celebrities and models, past and present, to show how the mask directly correlates to these "known" beauties. I plotted a few faces of my own, and was surprised by some of the results.

Angelina Jolie fits the mask pretty well, except for her lips being larger than average, which should come as no surprise. (Her head is tilted downward in this photo, which would account for some of the ill-fit around the jawline).

Jolie's counterpart in beauty, Brad Pitt, however, doesn't fit the Mask well at all. At its best fit (top), the Mask would indicate that Pitt's nose is too wide, and his jawline too pronounced for mathematical beauty.

Soccer superstar turned occasional model, David Beckham, however, fits the Mask almost perfectly, the only variation seeming to occur in the brow area, though the flattened eyebrow area is not uncommon in European caucasians. It would be of no surprise to Marquardt that Beckham fits the Mask so well, as the doctor feels that athletes are predisposed to physical symmetry. It is this symmetry which makes them good athletes, and results in so many athletes being attractive.

Actress Megan Fox also fits the Mask exceptionally well.

Dianna Agron of the TV show Glee, fits Marquardt's Frontal Smiling Mask nearly perfectly.

Perennial beauty, Grace Kelly also fits the Lateral Mask quite well.

Barbara Hale

The biggest surprise for me was how well the Mask fit actress Barbara Hale, whose face I had decided to plot just because she had been one of Gil Elvgren's models. Elvgren defintiely had a good eye for beauty.

Marquardt also superimposes his Mask on several pieces of famous art on the MBA site.

A painting of The Madonna by Raphael

Lady Agnew by John Singer Sargent. Lady Agnew was considered a beauty, and Sargent's painting does her comeliness justice.

I also mapped a few images by artists whom I have previously profiled for their personal senses of beauty.

In this classic pin-up, the Mask fits Elvgren's portrayal of smiling model Janet Rae perfectly, except in the eyebrows, which the artist intentionally exaggerated.

Andrew Loomis' excellent painting of a man has features which match the size and relative shape of Marquardt's Mask, but the placement of those features is quite different from the Mask's layout.

Waterhouse's ideal of beauty doesn't match the Phi Mask at all.

Despite Marquardt's claims of the Mask's universality, detractors point out that it best fits northern European caucasian women with masculine features. This is very much due to the data collected from supermodels. (One supporter of Marquardt claims that supermodels are chosen for their masculine attributes by homosexual clothing designers who prefer the looks of males. To me, this theory seems a bit far-fetched and near-sighted at the same time. It is more likely that the women are chosen for their body types, and how those body types showcase the clothing: that the woman have features commonly associated with men has more to do with physical traits common to their body shape. Models are often chosen in their teens because their general body shape is correct, but their facial features do not yet have the angularity of an adult).

The Mask can be used much like the construction faces put forth by artists such as Andrew Loomis. On the MBA site, frontal and lateral masks are downloadable, in both smiling and repose expressions, and these can be compared to your own artwork. The easiest way to superimpose the Mask on your artwork is through photo-imaging software, such as Photoshop. In Photoshop, open your artwork, and create a new multiply layer (under the 'Mode' tab, choose 'Multiply' when creating the layer). Paste a copy of the Mask in that layer, and transform its size using the Scale feature. Tips on re-sizing the Mask can be found on the MBA site under the category Mask Applications: You and the Mask.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Passing the 400 Mark!

Masters and Pupils
(see full images below)

Wow! You guys really snuck up on me this time. It was a pretty rapid climb from 350 to 400, and now that we have reached a new milestone, it's time for a new contest!

I've decided to try something different this time, although, to win, you will still be asked to identify several artists by their paintings. In the image above, there are 21 paintings divided into seven rows of three pictures each. The images in each row are connected by a common thread, which is that the three artists represented all studied with the same teacher. To win this contest, you need to be able to name all 21 artists listed, and the 7 teachers who each helped to shape their respective group.

As I have been discussing artists and their photo reference often lately, I have decided to bestow upon the winner of this contest a copy of Norman Rockwell: Behind the Camera. The book has been getting great reviews, and I hope the winner will like it (I have yet to purchase a copy for myself!). I will also add in a copy of the out-of-print Norman Rockwell: Illustrator by Arthur Guptill, which includes a nice section in the back, written by Rockwell himself, which discusses his palette and working methods.

Send your answers to

Best of Luck!