Lend Me Your Ears!

We all learned that line from Julius Caesar, didn’t we? I happen to be very fond of Shakespeare, especially his tragedies. I enjoyed memorizing Mark Antony’s funeral oration when I was in school.

Julius Caesar by Peter Paul Rubens
Julius Caesar by Peter Paul Rubens


Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Caesar …

I won’t quote all of the speech, but you can find it here:

Mark Antony’s Funeral Oration

It’s taught often in literature classes as an example of rhetoric. It’s come to my mind, though,  for a totally different reason.

I’ve been drawing ears, you see. Remember, I warned you that you might be seeing dismembered body parts appearing here.

I recently graced these pages with my drawings of funny-looking feet, but honestly, when it comes to funny-looking, ears win out over feet hands down…but, no, let’s not talk about hands quite yet. Ears are enough to keep me busy for a while.

The humble ear gets little appreciation from artists.
The humble ear gets little appreciation from artists.

I don’t think anyone really likes drawing ears, do they?

Ears are complicated, involving six intrinsic muscles, and three extrinsic muscles. The human ear is divided into three distinct parts:

  • Outer Ear
  • Middle Ear
  • Inner Ear

It is, of course, the outer ear — or auricle — which we see, and which, as artists, we draw. It’s anatomical purpose is to focus sound waves and channel them into the inner portions of the ear.

It’s made up of many different parts: the helix, scapha, anti-helix, fossa triangularis, concha, tragus, anti-tragus, and lobule.

Is it any wonder we don’t like drawing ears? First, we have to remember how the ear is constructed, and then we have to create a likeness for each different part.

I know, I know…you’re so glad I’m studying anatomy, and you’re delighted I’m sharing it all with you, right?

Of course, I’m joking, but all the same, I hope you’ll show the humble ear a bit of appreciation. If we’re doing portraits and hope to make them realistic, learning to draw ears correctly is time well spent.

So, here’s a quick look at how ears are put together. Let’s go back to that list of parts I mentioned earlier:

The helix is the outer edge of the ear. Directly inside is the scapha, which appears shaded in my drawing. Next comes the anti-helix, the lighter ridge. The fossa triangularis is that triangular-shaped dark area toward the top. The concha — the word means shell — is the opening to the middle ear. It extends downward toward the tragus, another dark area of shading. The anti-tragus is the lighter area at the top of the lobule or earlobe, as we know it. Of course, earlobes can be detached — as in my simple sketch — or attached, or somewhere in-between.

Geneticists still disagree over why there are variations in earlobes and whether or not the trait is dominant, but I’ve bored you enough already. If  you’ve continued reading this far, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Ears get joked about a lot, and they continue to puzzle geneticists and frustrate artists. Especially me. When I did the California Girl portrait, I breathed a sigh of relief. No ears showing. With my portrait of This Old Man, I painted ears — very badly. It was time to learn how, I decided.

I have a the perfect subject in mind.  Julius Caesar, ears and all. I know my painting won’t begin to compare with that of Peter Paul Rubens, but it will be an interesting challenge.

And here you probably thought this post would be about Vincent Van Gogh!









      1. My husband would never sit still long enough for me to draw anything of his…LOL. When I was doing gesture drawings last fall, I did make a couple of quick sketches of him. He was not impressed. It just made him feel weird to think I was drawing him, so I don’t try that any more.


      2. TV! Baseball games. We’re big fans. I always draw his feet, nearly every night. If he wasn’t watching tv, it’d never work. I think there’s a sleeping artist inside him too and I’m hoping to wake it up! The one thing he won’t do is a nude lol! He barely lets me get the sentence out! 😃

        Liked by 1 person

      3. We’re baseball fans, too. Of course, it’s been fun the last two years with the KC Royals going to — and winning in 2015 — the World Series. They’re not doing so good this season. What team are you guys rooting for?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I’ve often thought of sketching some of the players as they’re sitting in the dug-out. Some of their expressions are incredible. I did do a sketch last summer of a bat and glove in the grass. I thought of giving it to one of our grandsons — he was playing little league — but I didn’t think it was really good enough. It was one of my first full-page drawings. I might post it one of these days. I was looking at it yesterday and was actually surprised by how good it looked — considering how inexperienced I was at drawing. But to answer your question, yeah, sometimes I’ve even grabbed my cellphone to take pictures of players, but I haven’t tried drawing them yet. Now that I’m doing figure drawing, they would make excellent subjects!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Well if you’re ever looking for inspiration, Kerfe makes it look easy. She’s even drawn them from life. Me, I pause TiVo. Otherwise I’m not nearly fast enough. If you’re into figures, and baseball, seems like a cool thing to try! Beautiful lines when the bat connects with the ball. Pretty incredible, really. Pure art.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m playing with abstracts today…just having fun with the colors. I don’t know that I’ll have anything to show for my time when it’s all done, but it is fun. Oceans and palm trees sound fun, too. It’s so cold here this morning I’ve turned the heat on again, and my husband actually wore his winter coat and wool scarf when he left for work.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is such silly weather! I said it was going to snow in June when we have glorious spring weather in February. I was just joking!!!! But here is is darn close to June. EEKS! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Good ear!! Some years ago I got hold of Bridgeman’s books on drawing the human figure. You may know of these books? He draws in a beautiful, solid classical style that exaggerates the blockiness and structure of forms, including those of the ear, hands and feet. I copied these over and over and it may have helped me, who knows.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not familiar with Bridgeman. My art anatomy book is by Joseph Sheppard. I really enjoy anatomy although I do sometimes get overwhelmed by all the muscles in our marvelous bodies. I’ve been working on arm bones and muscles. There are so many of them!


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