This isn’t so much a book about how to draw figures as what you can do with them. The biography that came with it tells me that Eddie is also a musician and there is certainly a fluidity and rhythm to his drawings that may or may not be connected. There is also a sense of improvisation that echoes Paul Klee’s comment about “taking a line for a walk”.
None of this matters really, as sources, influences and possible cross-overs have nothing to do with whether the book itself is any good and whether we like the illustrations and can learn from them. On the other hand, when Eddie does what he refers to as “scribble drawings” and creates seemingly random birds-nests from which a shape, then a recognisable figure emerge, I can’t help thinking of free jazz. For the uninitiated, someone once described that as sounding “like a pet shop burning down”, so I probably won’t labour the point.*
What’s exciting, though, is just how much Eddie is prepared to experiment and how he works with line, tone and perspective to produce figures that have that all-important quality of potential movement. The thing about people is that they’re never fully at rest. At any time they can change position, get up or run off, and a really successful drawing encompasses that quality.
The other thing this book lacks is anatomy. That’s not to say it isn’t important, but sometimes we don’t have to get bogged down in it and this is one of those times. I love this book for the way it celebrates the human form and, once again, Search Press are right on the button with their choice of author.
* For those of you who care, I’m thinking of the moment the melodic figure emerges from seeming chaos in Endangered Species on the Pat Metheny (et al) album Song X. Makes me cry every time and that’s not an easy thing to do. Or Morning Dew coalescing out of the free jam, Epilogue on the Grateful Dead’s Europe ’72.
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