Men. Children. Black people. Three things I can’t draw. Or at least I think I can’t draw so I don’t draw. I have never drawn a male portrait. The closest I have gotten was a small drawing of John Legend but you can’t see his face so it doesn’t really count as a portrait. I’m not entirely sure why I don’t draw men. I think I simply don’t find the male face as attractive or interesting to look at as a female. So I figured it was about time I challenged myself and finally drew a male portrait.
Missoni, like Tod’s, are another high end Italian fashion house, known for their iconic zigzag print. Their spring 2020 show was in a giant public pool in Milan… cool! I found an image of a handsome model backstage holding a little yellow lamp in his hands. Coincidentally I’d just watched a documentary about the artist Olafur Eliasson, so I recognised this lamp immediately as a “Little Sun” portable solar powered lamp. Each time a Little Sun is purchased another is delivered by the company to someone living off-the-grid at a much lower, locally affordable price. The companies mission is to designing and delivering affordable clean energy solutions and inspire people to take climate action.
After hours of pain staking research stalking male models on Instagram,(trust me it was sooo painful), I finally worked out who this handsome dude with the Little Sun was – Pratik Shetty. Mr Shetty is from Mumbai and entered an Elite Model (India) contest in 2017 which he didn’t win! Disappointingly he says his “look” isn’t so appealing to Indian clients, (who prefer lighter skin tones), but internationally his career has taken off. He walked 15 shows during fashion week in 2019 closing the show for Lanvin. (opening and closing shows is apparently a big deal in the fashion world)
This is my third attempt with Strathmore toned paper and I am slowly becoming more comfortable with it. For this drawing I used mostly Faber Castell Polychromo colour pencils. They are much harder than my usual Prismacolors and the colour application appears less saturated. I was also using a set of 24 pencils so was forced to be more restrained in my colour selection. I’m not sure if these things combined have resulted in what I feel is a somewhat subtler portrait. In any case I am super happy with the end result.
Part of me, now that I am finished, wants to say that drawing a man was infinitely more difficult than a woman, if only to justify my reluctance to do one for so long. Truth be told I didn’t find it particularly more challenging. There are of course obvious differences between the male and female face. Female faces are generally less angular with softer features, although as someone whose nose verges more on the “Aquiline” than “cute-little-turned-up-button”, I may beg to differ.
If anything, I would say only the mouth presented more problems for me as without the addition of lipstick the edges or a man’s mouth are much less defined and more difficult to make out than a womans. Where does lip become skin or skin become lip?
Interestingly when considering this question, post portrait, I stumbled across a study by Professor Richard Russell from Gettysburg College. In short, Russell measured photographs of men and women and found that there is a greater contrast between eyes, lips and surrounding skin in female faces than in male faces. This is down to female skin being generally lighter than that of males, while lip and eye colour is essentially consistent between the sexes. Therefore there is a higher level of contrast in a woman’s face and this is regardless of race. Super-interestingly he found that if photographs of faces were manipulated by increasing or decreasing contrast, (that is making the skin lighter or darker), the same face would appear more female or more male.
Professor Russell also found that cosmetics are predominately used to increase facial contrast. Ergo, female faces wearing makeup have an even greater facial contrast than those not wearing makeup, making them even more feminine. This kinda explains for me why I am so much more drawn to choosing female fashion models for my art projects; all that colour and those defined features.
Making the eyes and lips darker without changing the surrounding skin increases the facial contrast. Femininity and attractiveness are highly correlated, so making a face more feminine also makes it more attractive.
So perhaps to compensate for my less than feminine nose I should set my inner Goth girl free and bust out some black lips and pasty white skin for maximal facial contrast.
PS A short follow up to last weeks post; Alina Bolotina made The Impressions top 20 models of fashion week – see I have a feel for this fashion shit