I caught up on practice sketching during my latest flight to China. It was a long, long flight, so in-between refining toy designs, answering emails and watching the horrible Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice in-flight movie, I did one anatomical sketch after the other.
Eyes are the most important part of any commercial or fine art sketch—they are the gateway to the soul. If you nail the eyes in your sketch the rest of the image usually hits the mark and if you don’t, then not so much.
So, why are eyes so important? Well, eyes don’t lie like smiles do. Handshakes are meaningless and words can’t be trusted in this day and age. Yes, eyes reveal the inner person—who they really are—the very essence of their true character.
I’ve known some extremely successful people who are filthy rich and envied by those who seek the same, but their eyes are empty, drained of life and any hint of a living soul. Their smiles, that is, the ones they use during meetings with special clients, are a mere facade to distract from the truth hidden deep within their eyes.
In my personal life, beyond toy design, I have served as a volunteer chaplain at a maximum-security prison for over well over twenty-five years now. It is safe to say I’ve seen a lot—too much to be honest with you and I know my eyes reveal that.
If you were to look into my eyes, you would see a loss of innocence I will never get back. Walking cell to cell, I have experienced evil first hand and can never return to living a candy coated life thinking all is well in the world around me.
I’ve been in prison riots, held a man as he shook and cried uncontrollably because he was raped the night before, and saw a murdered inmate lying on the ground staring toward the sky never realizing when he woke up that morning it was to be his last day. Yes, I can honestly say without being overly dramatic, I’ve seen too much and I will never get the innocence of my early years back.
My mentor, an African American chaplain, taught me how to keep from getting killed doing this sort of ministry—by not trusting anything but what you see in the eyes. Eyes are bitterly honest and betray even the best liar if you look hard enough. This not only works in the deepest recesses of a maximum security prison but also within corporate America.
If you clear your mind, eyes will tell you the real story. Once you learn to see the real person, the true nature hidden behind the carefully constructed image, you too will lose a sense of innocence, because the cold-hearted reality of what is hidden deep within the human nature is sobering.
The sales of anti-depressant medications are at record levels, even with those who are earning high levels of income, drive fancy cars and own the big house on the hill. It seems money and power cannot infuse life into a person’s eyes, and they remain inmates of their own carefully constructed prisons.