| Ever since I fell in love with drawing , I felt
a purpose beyond simply creating. I wanted to help make a better world
by providing it with art of a special sort...a sort with feelings so extreme,
it might exorcise the viewer's pain.
An anger, a feriocity has always driven my
work. As a teenager, turning to a career of art meant independence from
my family. The need to forge ahead was feverish; in my work, human emotion,
casual cruelty and resultant pain are ever-present motifs. I have a need
to express, and to speak to others whose needs and feelings are not being
adressed in a culture that encourages the "glossing over" of true feelings,
in life as well as art.
In my work, joy is another extremity, wish
fulfillment with mighty sensuality swelled to bursting, expressed in rich
impasto or heavy slashes of India ink. I parody the excesses of popular
culture. I fight to keep my figures and backgrounds full bodied and full
of motion, to never do anything 'easily', to always twist the figures and
perspectives into going that 'extra mile'.
I consider my art to be international; although
I am at heart an American cartoonist, from birth I have been intensely
interested in every kind of art. Abstract, Asian, African art and more
continue to be influences and inspirations, keeping my art from being insular,
to my personal delight, and hopefully to the delight of my audience.
My interest is rarely in recapturing or approximating
reality, but in creating new ideas and forms and in giving them their own
Copyright 2002 by Milton Knight CONTACT
Posted: September 24, 2006
My new enterprise: Giving cartooning
lessons through the internet; the following is an excerpt from one of them,
in which I personally address an artist's concerns over making his figures
"a bit more fluid and less static", first by giving him requested tips
on character construction:
The proper construction is the one that you find
you are most comfortable with. For me and most animation-style cartoonists,
the oval (chest)- tube (waist/spine)-oval (hips/pelvis) system is the most
flexible. It can be seen below as I first learned it from these drawings
by Russell Patterson. (From MODERN CARTOON by Walter Foster. Book copyrighted
by Walter Foster Art Books. Now out of print.)
drawings along the way; but the final, improved
results will show off a new knowledge that make the trouble worth it!
||Several factors give variety to a character's stance:
1) An important thing to remember is that when a person
is not standing at attention ("ten-hut!"), one always favors one leg or
the other. This creates the slant to the figure that gives variety to the
stance, creating the curving "line of action". (Studying full-figure movie
stills or fashion photos show one the many ways people stand, conciously
and otherwise.) I try to put myself into the character physically, making
myself aware of how it is distributing its weight. It is an unsure process
at first, causing one to create a raft of bad
||(Illustration at left from DRAWING THE HEAD AND FIGURE
by Jack Hamm. Book copyrighted by Jack Hamm, published by Penguin Putnam
Inc. Currently in print.)
2) In the more extreme,
physical styles of cartooning (notably traditional animation), the mindset
of the character visibly and broadly affects the character's distribution
of weight. It is a matter of making what's inside the subject's head visible.
In the opening panel of the Little Audrey comic strip I've attached (drawn
by Steve Muffati), the large man, a most unrealistic, tiny-legged figure,
leans forward in a bow while making himself acquainted.
LITTLE AUDREY Copyrighted by Harvey Famous Cartoons.
It's a literal supplication, a gross exaggeration of courtesy,
replete with a daintily extended pinky. In the third panel, he answers
what seems to be an obvious question from Audrey; at this point, he is
condescending towards her; his entire body becoming a huge, amused shrug.
He leans with his weight on the small of his back, exposing his belly,
practically asking that she 'hit him with her best shot', which comes in
the form of the girl's 'punch line'. This blows the man off his feet; his
head jerks forward to follow Audrey's path as she walks off, and he lifts
both arms to keep balanced. If the viewer finds the art amusing, it is
largely because he has felt the emotions and reactions the figure expresses;
he can relate to them. A kinship is created between a human being and an
unrealistic, tiny-legged figure of pen-and-ink!
3) Another trick to keep the figure a subject of interest
was used heavily by artists and sculptors during the Italian Renaissance:
While the top part of the body faces one direction, the hips are twisted
in another. This is especially effective in sculpture, because the figure
forms a beautiful 'picture' from whichever direction the spectator views
it. In drawings, the technique is rather snake-like in appearance, creating
an unpredictability; one never knows how the figure will 'end up' from
head to toe. (See curve.jpeg.)
4) One can also occasionally strive to indicate that the
viewer's POV is slightly above or below all or part of the figure, as in
my attached glenda.jpeg, where the POV is definitely from below, giving
a unique, foreshortened angle to the shoulders, breasts
|and skirt. This gives your audience a surprise, keeping
its interest. I think the one quality I aim for in my own cartooning is
one of constant surprise;
in figure work,
It should be remembered that as we discuss all this twisting
and turning, a stiff, doll-like approach to the figure can still be used
to great effect. I use it in the sketch below. This type of stance
provide a bald expose of the character's essentials. "Here I am, now what
are you gonna do about it?"
LESSON COPYRIGHT 2006 BY MILTON KNIGHT
After these words, I apply comments,
hints, and quick sketches to three of the student's own drawings: "The
legs of the figure in the foreground lack construction, bulging in a way
that suggests improvisation[---]wonderful in itself, but in my quick-n-dirty
jotting, I've gone a bit literal and indicated more definite shapes &
joints to them. They are unrealistic, but supple because they are constructed
in pieces with joints connecting them. A more definite illusion of walking
could be achieved by indicating the slightest swing to the arms. The head
is cast slightly downward, and there's more of a lean to the body. The
waist is bent forward, and therefore, the line indicating division of shirt
& pants is curved as if seen from above."
"For my sketch addressing your
pedestrian [---], I've employed a lower POV as mentioned in the lesson.
The man's shoulder closest to us is higher than the other. Arms and legs
are all given slight inward curves to indicate that they have weight and
are being lifted. The cuffs of his shirt and pants resist slightly, and
hang down, also being of matter, and therefore, weight."
...and so on. If YOU are interested
in learning with this affable cartooning veteran, CONTACT
COPYRIGHT 2006 BY MILTON KNIGHT