Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hurst and Hips, Age and Youth, Etc.

The point of my Hurst post (below) entitled "Just One More Thing" was that the girl in the image was drawn with wide shoulders and narrow hips, which is counter to what most anatomy books describe as the way to draw an idealized "feminine" figure. Usually anatomy books tell you that the way to show the difference between male and female figures is that adult females have broad hips and narrow shoulders while male figures have narrow hips and broad shoulders.

I was pointing this out as an example of how to bend or break established "rules" and yet still get the desired effect (in this case, a feeling of femininity).

It has been suggested (fairly) below that it is a bit misleading when I say that the Hurst image below features a girl with broad shoulders and slim hips. It's true that her hips are perpendicular to the viewer and her back is parallel to the viewer, so therefore the position of the viewer makes the broadness of her shoulders and the narrowness of her hips exaggerated. Obviously, in the post below that, I pointed out the twists in the figure so I get how that is the case.

So maybe that's not the best example of this type of stylization, but I still contend that Hurst's style was to portray his females with broad shoulders and narrower hips. In looking through the internet archives I can find of Hurst's work and in looking through the excellent book "The Art Of Earl Oliver Hurst" I was unable to find a single example of Hurst breaking this rule. Every female figure I could find of his had narrow hips. If someone is aware of one that breaks this pattern I would be very interested to see it!





The reason I find this such a great concept to study is that if you can draw a figure with slim hips - breaking the established cliche that wide hips are more feminine - and still put across the feeling of femininity, then obviously Hurst is doing other things that put over the female aspect. You then have a great opportunity to ask yourself "what other tools is Hurst using to put over the femininity of this figure"? or "What original ways has he found that say femininity that can't always be found in anatomy books?"

He certainly didn't invent the idea of the feminine woman with the slimmer hips. Erte and Patterson drew plenty of them too.




Also you can contrast his work with artists that tend to draw the more traditional slim-shouldered heavy-hips type of woman and see how the two types create a different feeling. To me the women that Hurst draws have an energetic, athletic, innocent quality - the slimmer hips make them feel younger and more streamlined. They look fast and sleek....for lack of better words.

As a broad generalization women with the more voluptuous, heavier hips feel a little bit older, not quite as innocent, definitely more sexy, and they feel slightly heavier and more sedentary...for lack of better words. Hurst's women feel like they could leap off the page and are always up for a game of tennis....Dedini's women feel like they would rather have a comfortable seat somewhere and enjoy an expensive meal. Hurst's women feel very open and honest while Dedini's feel like they are mysterious and are keeping some dark secrets (obviously this goes well beyond the hip thing. Both of them have many stylistic traits that add up to these impressions. And again, these are just my impressions...they may be totally different from your impressions! No one interpretation is "Correct"...I'm just telling you what my gut is telling me here. That's all an artist really has...the ability to look at something, register how that visual makes him or her feel, and analyze what it is that makes it seem that way).





Sokol




Of course it's said that us guys are more attracted to women with wider hips because they have a better chance of surviving multiple childbirths and passing along our genes into the world (or something like that).

At some point the hips get wide enough that it starts to indicate middle age instead of voluptuousness. Also, the more rounded the shoulders, the stronger the feeling of middle age becomes. Things like the costume and makeup on a woman, as well as many other things, can be additional clues as to their age, as well as their character and personality.

It's hard to find photos of someone aging from youth into a middle-aged woman, but these portraits of Hillary Clinton show her progression over the years to a more rounded fuller figure. It's easy to see how the more rounded version reads instantly as older.






Funnily enough, the process can continue and you can have pudgy old ladies...



...or just as easily old ladies can be gaunt and thin, completing the transition back into a slim figure with thin hips.



So what's the point of this crazed babbling? Have I finally lost my mind completely? This may all sound like madness but, to me, these kinds of thoughts and observations are what makes a great artist great. How could you ever expect to be a great character designer unless you knew how to draw a voluptuous woman and also a frumpy one? What makes each look like their personalities? Unless you've thought about how a voluptuous woman moves and how a frumpy woman moves, and why they move that way, how can you ever expect to become a great animator?

Unfortunately nobody ever tells you this stuff. There's no list of what makes a sexy woman look and move sexily and frumpy one move and look frumpy. And if there was, it would all be a cliche already. So get into the habit of looking at people and analyzing what you see and how it makes you feel. Get used to making snap judgments about who people are based on their look, and then asking yourself what gives you that impression. It's always advisable - if not imperative - to read all you can and learn everything that books and teachers can teach you, but don't always rely on the "rules" put forth in books and in classes to communicate to an audience. Use your creativity, originality and personal experiences to come up with something that the world hasn't seen before!

I found all these great images from different places around the web, including the great Asifa archive site.

9 comments:

B! said...

great post, nice analysis. Very enlightening!

tek! said...

another element to consider, apart from hip and shoulder size is the waist-hip ratio, an indicator of attractiveness and health.

mlenife said...

Flipping through the channels one night, I idly watched a young man running on the beach, in silhouette. In the next scenes, the young man was shown to be Bo Derek.
Her figure is broad shouldered and narrow hipped. And so she is a real life model of exactly the figures you talk about.
I think that these unconventional figures catch the viewers eye, perhaps because they push at the edges of normal.

Alex Grigg said...

Mark!! your analysis of Hurst's painting is amazingly helpful. I really appreciate the time you've put into conveying the decisions behind it. thank you!

juan pablo n said...

uuuuuuyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!q buenos trabajos q tenes.me encantan!!!!un abraso.

John Musker said...

Mark:
I agree with your basic point, although I don't think the drawing you originally chose illustrates that as cleanly as others. The athletic sexy forties look I think did go beyond Hurst as you say with Patterson, etc., and in films the slim hipped Howard Hawks women, Bacall, Hepburn, Veronica Lake, etc. This standard was supplanted I think in the 50s by the curvy types: Loren, Monroe, Mansfield, etc. Each age develops its own ideals whether its the Gibson girl, Twiggy, or even Jessica Simpson. We may be entering the age of Megan Fox but I'm not exactly sure what that is.

Joakim Gunnarsson said...

I just posted the first pages of the Earl Oliver Hurst entry in the 1946 book "Forty illustrtators and how they work" on my blog:
http://sekvenskonst.blogspot.com/
Some nice shots of him in the studio etc.

Wouter said...

i just love reading this and thinking about these things

thanks so much for your effort again

Wally

David Apatoff said...

An excellent, highly enjoyable treatment, thanks! I would take exception to only one phrase in the whole post: "the hips get wide enough that it starts to indicate middle age instead of voluptuousness." I don't know how familiar you are with middle aged women, but it's not an either / or kind of thing.