The systematic training of the memory is a thing rarely attempted, and yet perfectly easy, and of so great use, that some artists have insisted that the true method of study was to go out and look at Nature, then, returning from her, to paint from recollection. By doing this repeatedly, each time correcting some error, or supplying some deficiency, the improvement in the memory will be astonishing.
But this one thing ever remember, that before Nature you are to lose sight of yourself, and seek reverently for truth, neither being captious as to what its quality may be, or considering whether your manner of telling it may be the most dexterous and draughtsmanlike. It is not of the least consequence whether you appear in your studies or no – it is of the highest importance that they should be true. You will find, in after times, that the rudest effort to tell a fact in Nature will have a value, which will shame your studied prettinesses into the obscurity of rubbish portfolios.
These quotes come from the June 6, 1855 issue of The Crayon. The author is unknown but was likely Asher B. Durand’s son, John, who was one of The Crayon’s founders. You can read the letter in its entirety here.
This week, work on the same drawing, from the same scene, all week. Find a simple scene, like the photograph above, and study it during dawn or dusk. Return to it each day at the same time.
Search out the big shapes and values first.
Once again, take a photograph, not to draw from nor even check for errors, but to use during review at a later date.
Darren R. Rousar studied privately with Richard Lack and attended Atelier LeSueur, both in Minnesota, as well as Studio Cecil-Graves in Florence, Italy. He was the assistant director and an instructor at Charles Cecil Studios in Florence, after which he became vice president of The Minnesota River School of Fine Art in Burnsville. He has been a professional artist for more than 20 years, focusing mainly on Christian themes. Darren is currently an art teacher, technology coordinator/coach at Providence Academy in Plymouth, MN. He is the author of three books, Cast Drawing Using the Sight-Size Approach and Cast Painting Using the Sight-Size Approach and Memory Drawing: Perceptual Training and Recall as well as the producer of a companion DVD, Sight-Size and the Art of Seeing. Through his company, Velatura Press, he republished an expanded edition of E.G. Lutz's 1921 book, Drawing Made Easy and edited a combined reprint of Asher B. Durand's 1855 Letters on Landscape Painting with Birge Harrison's 1910 Landscape Painting.
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Needables from Amazon
Sir Henry Raeburn -Self Portrait Someone in the know once said, “Sight-size is just a place on the floor.”1 Others, seeing that many schools teach sight-size while using some form of mechanical measuring, disagree. In most cases, the issue is really not sight-size at all. Rather, in today’s newspeak parlance, it is the fear of [...]
Begin here and here if this is new to you. The image above is from Henry Poore’s book: Pictorial Composition and the Critical Judgment of Pictures If how often artists wrote about a subject is any indication, landscape painting was one of the prime reasons for memory training. Corot, Inness and Whistler are just three [...]
Begin here and here if this is new to you. What’s wrong with this apple? It’s perfectly round. Compare the apple above with the original image, below. I am sure that we can all agree that the basic shape of an apple is round (a sphere actually). But, and this is an important “but”, where [...]
On my first trip to Europe (back in 1988) I was introduced to the curator at the Leighton House Museum in London. I no longer recall his name but I do remember that he was kind enough to take me downstairs and leave me alone in a room filled with flat-files of Leighton’s drawings. I [...]
Begin here and here if this is new to you. For this week’s exercise we will continue to use actual objects. However, rather than using one object, like we did for the last two weeks, this week we’ll use a number of objects. That’s why I’ve used a still life by Chardin as the example [...]
There are artists. There are teachers. There are art teachers. And then there is James Gurney. I have no doubt that all of my readers know who James is, but if not you can read his full bio here. James, through his blog, books and appearances, is one of those artists who thrives on giving [...]
Begin here and here if this is new to you. This week’s exercise, like the last, is based upon a plate from Adolphe Yvon’s drawing course. You will notice that in this plate Yvon shows us a more volumetric way of perceiving and drawing the head. He still prefers to flatten the main curves, but [...]
Velazquez, Las Meninas, detail of self portrait (1656). The paintings in this post are, or have been said to be, self portraits. Above is a detail from his 1656 painting, Las Meninas. Below is a detail from The Surrender of Breda, 20 years earlier. Velazquez, Surrender of Breda, detail (1635). Are they the same person? [...]
Begin here and here if this is new to you. There are many ways to learn to draw, just as there are many ways to draw. The same can be said for learning to see. For the next month we are going to look at memory drawing through different ways of perceiving. These posts will [...]
Books and DVD
Memory Drawing teaches you how to visually perceive and accurately recall those perceptions.
Sight-Size is a way of seeing and comparing nature to your artwork from a given distance. The books and DVD shown below explain it in detail.
Children and young adults can learn constructive drawing through Velatura Press' reprint of E.G. Lutz's 1921 classic, Drawing Made Easy.
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