When I am?in New York, I spend a lot of ?time sketching in the Metropolitan Museum. I keep returning to certain works every time I am there. For instance, I am?fascinated by the figure of the Virgin?in a?stunning Annunciation by Memling?. She?has the subtle expression of someone listening with utmost calm. To me, her?serene, wise?face is very moving.
I tried unsuccessfully to capture her expression. Then I?realized that the key to her air of composure was in her unusual facial proportions. I decided to analyze her face?geometrically.
This is the result (still not quite perfect, but close.)
Most actual faces would not line up this way, but as I looked at other Madonnas, from the earliest icons to the Renaissance, I kept finding the same proportions and features: long oval, long nose, small mouth, delicate chin. This face must carry layers of meaning, since it turns up century after century.
Later depictions of the Madonna gradually became more naturalistic. However, even Picasso seems to recall this ancient face in?his work. Her?appeal echoes echoes through time.
Lots of people come by to check my progress, and I like to think they take more interest in what I am drawing as a result.?Here is a another famous face in art.
I drew?this depiction of Alexander the Great from a Greek bronze. While I worked, I got to hear a lot of stories about Alexander. Parents, pastors, docents, and teachers told various?versions of his life story. Some were quite fanciful!
I love drawing the Greek bronzes. They seem so much more lively than most?Roman marble statues, many of which are copies of Greek bronze originals. If you get to New York City, I encourage you to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and bring your sketchbook!