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.
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:
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.
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!