On the Design of Woman
One thing that keeps being a puzzlement to scholars everywhere, as well as to man in general, is: Why is the design of Woman's body so powerful? Why does it make us lose our cool every time, no matter how old and experienced we get?
Why does it keep its power, no matter how many times it is used, in art and advertising?
A clue to part of the answer came to me as I starting working on drawings for a series of postcards for DOMAI recently. Now, drawing, as you will know if you have tried it, is not something that comes particularly easy to most people, and especially not drawing the human form. And the female human form is especially tricky, because you think it is simpler than the male form, not having as obvious muscles etc.
And here we come to the crux of the matter: It seems simple. But actually it is amazingly complex.
For my drawings, I was studying a video clip of a dancer, moving forward one frame at a time, and I noticed a peculiar thing: Even with just 1/24 of a second between two views, the body could look totally different in each picture. The lines were different, the curves were different, the relationship between different parts were different. Even a single part, like the head or an arm, could have a completely different outline between two pictures 1/24 of a second apart.
Now, learning to draw, there are many ways to observe. One popular way is to divide the body into moving parts, and make the head an elongated sphere, the upper arm a tube, the upper torso a cut-off cone, and so on.
This way makes it easier to understand the spatial relationships of the body, but it does not lead to very charming drawings all by itself.
Another way is to ignore space altogether, and to draw the outline of the body in one long line, not caring how it all fits together. This can lead to drawings with lots of charm, but usually messes up the proportions of the body something fierce. (Of course this is meant as an exercise, not a technique.)
A third way still is to draw only the shadows and light of the body, ignoring shapes and outlines completely. This can have some power, but is very difficult to get to hang together.
My point here is that with all those ways of seeing and drawing the body (and these are just a few), each of them taking a long time to master, it should be obvious that the totality of the design of the body is extremely complex.
As a matter of fact, my central epiphany as I was practicing was this: There is no way of simplifying the design of the female the body. This is important.
It is important because of this: If a given design is needlessly complex, it can always be simplified. And further, it will gain power if it is. (Engineers make great progress every time they do this.)
And of course the corollary is: If a design cannot be simplified, it means that every part of the design contributes to the effect. And if it is very complex, of course that ads up to a lot of power.
So the next time you look at some stunning beauty, and you wonder exactly what part of it that makes you sweat, forget it: it all works together. And that is the genius of it.
Letter of the week, from Sara
I have been thinking about this for a bit and I wanted to write about it to someone who might at least have a vague interest and for some reason I thought I might qrite it at you, since, for the most part it is DOMAI inspried thinking.
I read last week the story of Ashley, the girl who wanted to be more adventurous now that she is twenty, and I started to think. I had been thinking for awhile on the subject of innocence and sex which have also been dealt with recently in the newsletter, and I started to remember things.
I remember that when I was a child about seven or eight years old I was fascinated with my body and the bodies of others, but also I was very free and felt very free. I love to be out of my clothes, simply because it felt so nice to be free, I didn't see anything dirty or shameful in my desire to be nude. I liked to wander around topless and I can't even think of who many of those "baby pictures" I have seen lying around that feature me without my shirt, which was rather typical.
For awhile my family lived in the desert in Arizonia. If you've ever lived in the South West you have probably experienced a very fast thunderstorm. I remember one particular afternoon when the sky turned black in a few seconds and the sun was blocked all the way out. The wind picked up and it went from very warm to very cool in just a few seconds. I was wearing shorts and a tshirt, and I remember dashing out into the driveway as it started to thunder down rain and even a little hail. I was so young, six, I belive, and I started to dance in the rain. I ran to the drain ditch where the storm water was quickly gathering up like a little river and let it run over my feet. I threw off my shirt because it was to wet and it was interfering with my play. My parents where on the porch and my brothers and sisters were screaming at me to come back. But for a moment I was there in the rain, and the water and I was half naked and I was really alive.
Next thing I remember is my father picking me up and chastising me for my nudity, telling me how ashamed of myself I should be. I was given a lecture which became rather familiar to me as I was growing up. The lecture consisted of the several points of shame that I should feel for taking my clothes off and why I should not do it. It took years and years, but it did eventually hit home to the point where I still have difficulty being fully nude even today. Sometimes I really envy the girls on DOMAI for not only their spirit but for their willingness to shed their clothes despite I'm sure hearing those same lectures as they got older.
I think it is a real shame that we often teach our daughters and our sons to abhor their body and the bodies of others. I think that DOMAI deserves honor for reclaiming beauty in it's purest most functionally innocent way, and for helping me to reclaim the same feelings of comfort and self-purity that I once felt.
Fine art nudes © Andrey Slastyonoff, Arnold Studio, Alexander Feodorov