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THE HUMAN HEAD – 2 Courses

clay head, r. side complete1. Structure of the Human Head

"The human head is stranger, and a thousand times more mysterious, than the head of a wolf." Alberto Giacometti

The human head is the central image in art, and the most neurally "loaded" of all visual images. Rilke wrote, "Who can look with respect enough at the human face?...(for) we are looking into the face of God."

Purpose: to explore this image with respect. To achieve an understanding of the sound basis on which portraiture rests.

Student with clay modelMaking clay heads: The head as a unit, the skull and its importance. Modelling a clay skull (working from various craniums provided) to learn the structure of the head. The muscles of expression: building the facial musculature in clay, studying and experimenting with the expression generated by muscular contraction. Finally eyes, nose, mouth and ears completed in their relation to the head as a whole. The stance of head on neck/shoulders, hair and other details. These realistic heads can be later hollowed out and fired.
2. Drawing the Human Head

This course follows naturally from the first, but can also be held separately.
The head drawn as a unit, proceeding as much as possible from the method of work in clay. Working in depth, concentrating on structure, musculature, placement on the shoulders. How the eye sees, how the brain perceives. Strategies to encourage the student to look rather than work from learned responses.

The real sources of likeness and recognition. Many examples from visual psychology and perceptual theory. The features – how to draw them without conceptual (learned) interference. The reading of facial expression. Stance: the importance of the position of the head on the shoulders.

Various models: infants and children: what constants make for likeness? The changes and constants of aging (explored through drawing a child and its look-alike parent). Drawing those of another ethnicity (with examples – drawings of Captain Cook and his crew by Japanese artists, Gauguin's Taihitians). Drawing the elderly. Opportunity to use colour, work with individual problems and/or interests.

History of the portrait as an art form, and present possibilities of the genre. Reasons for, and expectations of, the portrait through history. The head as image in different cultures. "Readings" of famous portraits – the student should now be able not only to see what is portrayed – but also to know exactly how.

Materials:
(Course 1) Clay and modelling tools, stands. At least 4, if possible 6 - 8 craniums, preferably one of which should be an infant's, one a child's.
(Course 2) Pressed charcoal, newsprint, drawing pencils. Pastel or paint if desired.

Models:
(Course 2): First half of course: fair, shorthaired or bald young model without makeup. Second half of course, in this order: infant (newborn if possible), toddler, two children about 6-8 who can pose together, parent and child with strong likeness who can pose together, African or Oriental model, elderly model.

The Panum Poems by Heather Spears is comprised of poems and drawings on the musculature of the human head.


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