Jeff's Observations on Drawing from Life - Page 2

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  1. #31
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    Thanks Two - I'll try to be more clear. I try to be both clear and concise which sometimes leads to generalities or statemements that might seem contradictory.

    My point that the drawing matters, not the subject is that it doesn't matter if it is a drawing of a cube, cylinder, sphere, crumpled paper, face, etc. What is important is accurate shapes, proportions, values, edges, textures, etc. It is just generally easier to start with simple forms to understand form shadow, cast shadow, reflected light, hard/soft edges, etc.

    I don't think I said drawing from life is important because of the content - if that has been implied then I do need to be more clear. Content, or subject, doesn't matter - all subjects come down to fundamental visual principles. Even rock, water and clothing all have the same basic visual principles - form, value, reflected light, color, edges, etc.

    The reason I've started talking about this is because so often I see young artists trying to draw spaceships, castles, armored whatevers - and they do it quite poorly because they don't understand the fundamentals. There is such a lack of understanding that they are blind to it, spending hours and hours foundering with no idea on how to improve. It is far more rewarding to do a drawing or painting well, even if it is a simple subject - than to do a complex subject poorly. This builds our skills, observation ability and confidence.

    I think a good analogy is each principle is like a link in a chain. It is best to pull the chain from one end rather than pushing it or trying to drag it from some random middle link.

    Hopefully that makes it clearer?

    Last edited by JeffX99; February 16th, 2010 at 09:27 PM. Reason: Clarification in italics
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  4. #32
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    Responses to post about control z:
    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    You can scrape off oils with a palette knife easily enough when working wet on wet and you can remove fresh glazes as well. With pencil there is always the rubber.
    Quote Originally Posted by Anid Maro View Post
    And with Ink or Watercolor there's always Gouache.
    Really ignorant posts. A work of art is evidence of a struggle. Control z obliterates that evidence. Working in a physical medium retains all the evidence of the hand of the artist manipulating that medium. Also a physical medium, by it's nature, contains many orders of magnitude more information than can be represented by several thousand pixels.

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  5. #33
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    I have to agree with Armando about the amount of complexity, traditional media teaches you so many things on so many levels that digital is incapable of. Good traditional painters are like carpenters digital only painters are like someone who is really good with a screwdriver. Getting good with a tool is not the same as being good at a skill.
    When I look at digital painting especially concept art, the first thing I see is a lack of understanding of light and color and how it works. Shadows are black or too dark, color doesn't shift prismatically like in nature. All these things a good traditional painter knows and uses along with three dimensional texture and edge which digital is devoid of. Most of the stuff on this site is colored in monochrome strings from light to dark no warm or cool shifts in a color. All the colors are isolated and don't interact.
    You can't roll the pencil or brush in your hand with digital, you can't dry brush or do thousands of things that are so simple to do traditionally.Of course there are programs that simulate these effects but they are so limited compared to the real effect it is laughable.
    The only people I know of using digital as its own medium is someone like Android. Everybody else is just pretending to paint in a traditional manner without the skill or knowledge of a good traditional painter. Digital has to be plugged in or powered up you have to buy hardware and software for thousands of dollars.
    If you learn to draw and paint traditionally, you can draw and paint with anything. Digial slows people down in the beginning of their learning cycles and it speeds them up at a professional level. People who want to learn art faster should start traditionally and then use what ever tools they want once they understand their craft.

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  7. #34
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    I see I might have been unclear again with my use of the terms "content" as opposed to "subject". If I understand Armando's point, I agree and was trying to further clarify: content is the important factor - the content or truth within the subject as we observe and interpret that subject. The subject is not important, at least as far as fundamental principles of visual illusion and art are concerned. Simple forms are easier to study and develop fundamentals skills with, as opposed to trying to do a battle scene with crashed starships and energy weapons.

    And I agree with dpaint (and others), the digital medium has some severe limitations - it also has some major advantages - I just rarely see anyone working in concert with what digital has to offer - Android Jones being an excellent example.

    One limitation that hasn't come up yet, and I've never even seen discussed, is the digital medium does not really create an artifact - unless you make some type of print. I've been pretty good at storing, updating and archiving my digital work over the last 25 years but it is still not all that easy to access; whereas I was just digging through 15 years of figure drawings in my flat files and moving stacks of paintings. When I have a major project I surround myself in my studio with reference, studies and related paintings - if I only have that stuff digitally I have to look at it one at a time. Big difference.

    Not to re-open the whole digital/traditional argument - just wanted to agree with some thoughts and point out something new I had just been thinking about.

    Last edited by JeffX99; February 17th, 2010 at 05:37 AM. Reason: Bad typo
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    Quote Originally Posted by armando View Post
    Responses to post about control z:

    ...

    Really ignorant posts... Working in a physical medium retains all the evidence of the hand of the artist manipulating that medium..
    I think you'd be surprised.

    If one sets out to obliterate a mistake, one can quite frequently do so. It involves quite a bit more work than just merely scraping or applying a dash of opaque paint, but it can most certainly be done.

    There are paintings by Titian and other old masters where through use of an x-ray one can see many reworkings in lead white. And this is all without even touching the subject of reproduction, where it is much easier to hide mistakes.

    Try it sometime.

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    Anid maro: You just modified your post to agree with what I said. Your original post is to the effect that there is no difference between control z and reworking. "It involves quite a bit more work than just merely scraping or applying", more effort than pressing two buttons right? You realize that, due to these mistakes, he had to alter his method of painting in order cover them up. Thus the final painting is effected by the struggle with the medium. This does not occur with control z. Do you wonder if Titian could still see the errors even after his corrections?

    Jeff: I'm still confused: "Content, or subject, doesn't matter " "content is the important factor"

    Last edited by armando; February 26th, 2010 at 03:29 AM.
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  11. #37
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    Sorry - content (the handling, interpretation, and execution) is important - the subject is not; i.e.: a well drawn or painted milk carton feels better as an accomplishment to the artist, and is more pleasing to the viewer than a poorly rendered...anything. Maybe that is self-evident but so often one hears about how boring a basic, simple subject is when it is the execution that is important. Does that make sense? Just my feelings about it of course.

    They all have form, volume, shape is all. An example: during a demo the instructor, who is known for painting water well, was asked how he can paint something as complicated as water, with its transparency, movement, reflection, etc. so well. His response was that it was no different than painting a rock, a tree a cloud, a mountain - the "illusion" of the water is made up of the right color, the right value, the right size brush stroke with the right edge - all in the right place. That's what I was getting at - it basically all comes down to those fundamental principles of visual art.

    Last edited by JeffX99; February 17th, 2010 at 02:51 AM. Reason: Clarification
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  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by armando View Post
    Anid maro: You just modified your post to agree with what I said. Your original post is to the effect that there is no difference between control z and reworking. "It involves quite a bit more work than just merely scraping or applying", more effort than pressing two buttons right? You realize that, due to these mistakes, he had to alter his method of painting in order cover them up. Thus the final painting is effected by the struggle with the medium. This does not occur with control z. Do you wonder if Titian could still see the errors even after his corrections?
    My original post is to the effect that mistakes can be undone in traditional, that if there is a grievous mistake it need not be incorporated. Any meaning beyond that lies only in your imagination.

    If you want a proper comparison then the traditional analog to ctrl-z would be using a rag to wipe off a fresh brush stroke and then having another go at it, and that requires about the same effort as hitting ctrl-z. I actually do this quite frequently with watercolors, and it is very effective.

    On the other hand, the digital analog to scraping off oil or applying gouache over a mistake is to paint over an unsightly section that is no longer reachable with the undo function. An effort that requires substantial reworking of the painting.

    I do not disagree that the final painting is effected by the struggle with the medium (be it traditional or digital), but the sum of efforts is quite different from obvious evidence of effort... the latter of which can be quite thoroughly obliterated in digital and traditional mediums alike.

    And no, I do not wonder if Titian could still see his old errors. Of course Titian could see them, he's the one who made them and covered them. I do think though, that Titian slept soundly knowing that his mistakes were known only to him and him alone.

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    Moving on so as not to belabor the digital v. traditional argument...

    What I'm getting from JeffX99's latest posts is "Procedure, procedure, procedure!", and I quite agree. What you're doing isn't as important as how you're doing it.

    That's a point of truth that I don't see mentioned as often as I think it should. That's why art instruction books will focus on simple things so often, painting an apple, drawing a cube, et cetera. If you can do that, you really can do anything.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anid Maro View Post
    That's a point of truth that I don't see mentioned as often as I think it should. That's why art instruction books will focus on simple things so often, painting an apple, drawing a cube, et cetera. If you can do that, you really can do anything.
    Exactly Anid! Well said - and if you can't draw a cube, apple, etc. well, why on earth would you expect you could draw a dragon, robot, cthuloid, "X" well?! In any media, traditional or digital?

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  18. #41
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    Amazing info, Thanks a lot Jeff!

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    Jeff, amazing thread, why would anyone let this die? O.O

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  21. #43
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    Hey thanks Diarum! IDK - LOL - seems like good stuff to me! Thanks for the bump Bro!

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    Yea, no problem, I like BUMPING threads that are really heavy with info . I think I put this thread in my tutorial thread.

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    The link you posted to the other thread like this was really great to read. This thread was also very helpful.

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  26. #46
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    Hey JeffX99,

    Great thread, some really helpful tips. In an earlier post you mentioned how impractical it is to draw from life in the digital medium, but some people are lucky enough to have an iphone or an ipad, such as a David Hockney, who, whilst this sort of thing has probably been done by lots of people, has managed to make some interesting work,

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11666162

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/arts/a...vid-hockney.do

    Mind you, his foundations are in traditional mediums, but the possibilities of the digital medium are really interesting, hope this isn't too off topic

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    I started life drawing class a few week ago. The good thing is with the vertical easels it gives lot of freedom, but it still hard when you only have 5 minutes to draw the person. Hell, even if I had twelve hours it would still be hard. It's still enjoyable. One thing I've learned is to detach yourself when working, to look everything objectively, and when needed starting the piece over again.

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  30. #48
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    Dpaint: "Good traditional painters are like carpenters digital only painters are like someone who is really good with a screwdriver. "

    Ouch!

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    Thanks for posting this Jeff. Highly appreciated

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    Hi Jeff thank you for this great insights. Just a few question..
    What If I'm limited to life drawing? (I may draw from life but not most of the time) Won't drawing from google images of people help? I know some of you might think that this is just a reason and that no one is limited from life drawing. But if I wasn't, I wouldn't have ask these questions otherwise. It would help me a lot, even if you think this is a childish question or doesn't seem make sense.

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  34. #51
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    copying photos is not anywhere near the same as working to translate 3 dimensional life to 2 dimensional images. Pictures distort reality and compress it all kinds of ways that are obvious to every pro but are oblivious to amateurs. Drawing only from photos is so limited in its skill set; like learning to walk like a toddler when you want to be a gymnast.

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    Ugh, is this another thread debating whether its better to work digitally or traditionally? Can't we just accept that for all intents and purposes it helps to know both? For the sake of learning there are certain things that you won't learn with the same clarity unless you pull out the old fashioned paint and canvas (or, if on a budget, canvas board or illustration board) However, once you are actually working there are lots of jobs where you don't have time to wait for paint to dry, and you probably won't get the job if all you have in your portfolio are oil paintings. Could go into detail about how either aspect is necessary, but really, do we need a huge argument?

    If you think that you can get by with only one or only the other, well, I'd like to tell you that you are wrong but I've known people (even in our modern world) who only do one or the other and do alright for themselves. So even though I can't say you are wrong, I will say that in either case you are limiting yourself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Coene View Post
    Ugh, is this another thread debating whether its better to work digitally or traditionally? Can't we just accept that for all intents and purposes it helps to know both? For the sake of learning there are certain things that you won't learn with the same clarity unless you pull out the old fashioned paint and canvas (or, if on a budget, canvas board or illustration board) However, once you are actually working there are lots of jobs where you don't have time to wait for paint to dry, and you probably won't get the job if all you have in your portfolio are oil paintings. Could go into detail about how either aspect is necessary, but really, do we need a huge argument?

    If you think that you can get by with only one or only the other, well, I'd like to tell you that you are wrong but I've known people (even in our modern world) who only do one or the other and do alright for themselves. So even though I can't say you are wrong, I will say that in either case you are limiting yourself.

    This thread is about drawing from life. Hence the title of the thread. If you don't train to work from life you are going to be mediocre at best. That's why every top game and studio I've worked at, which included LucasArts EA, Sony, and Disney had life drawing session for the artists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    This thread is about drawing from life. Hence the title of the thread. If you don't train to work from life you are going to be mediocre at best. That's why every top game and studio I've worked at, which included LucasArts EA, Sony, and Disney had life drawing session for the artists.
    And if you notice I've always been very supportive of drawing from life. I was just looking through previous posts on the thread and found that while it may have been about that when initially posted, the emphasis has shifted.

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