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On the Design of Woman

By Eolake Stobblehouse

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 damn 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.

Yours, Eolake Stobblehouse

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