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  1. #61
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    Even when you work from life if you want to make an effective piece of art you've got to make changes, proof: caricature. Caricature is just a super obvious example of what goes on in every piece of art. Can everyone who works from life make an effective caricature? No.
    Working from life is no guarantee that you're going to be studying form and rendering it in your drawing, proof: the Angel academy method.
    Photography has permanently changed the way we make pictures. Since everything you know about art influences everything you do in it learn as much as you can about it, and draw from every source.
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  3. #62
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    I'm just gonna chime in with a vote for 'draw whatever'.

    As some have already pointed out, drawing from life or photo is a non-issue until the artist can understand the difference, which most beginners won't.

    The young members of this site are living proof that it doesn't matter, as you'll find an abundance of artists reared up on drawing from photos, and many of them are well on their way in their endeavour.

  4. #63
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    Here's something I learned in last couple semesters of just simple art foundation classes....

    I was rather good at drawing from photos for an outsider and a dabbler, prior to the classes.... and now matter how many photo references I would collect, I could never quite out things together well, to have a polished looking presentation. It was always 'pretty decent for an amateur'. I couldn't draw much from life to ... save my life.

    So, I made myself start on a pretty classic approach to art foundation classes.... 2D Design, Drawing from life, Painting from life, figure drawing from life...

    All I an say about that is WHOA, what a difference. There is so much more information available to an artist when drawing from life, then from a photo. From a photo, most people who have no experience in drawing from life tend to focus on copying an image.

    When you draw from life, or mostly from life, with assistance of photos when not on location to fill in the blanks, you learn how to breathe the life into the image. You draw or paint the record of you entire experience of the subject... rather then just copy an image that the camera captured.

    The more one draws from life, the more proficient they get at breathing that entire experience into the image....
    My recommendation would be, if the choice is photos vs. no drawing or painting - use photos.
    If the choice is Life vs. Photos, go for life.
    Every chance you have, work on drawing from life (it's a tad harder then from photos, AFAIK, but you also learn more)



    Quote Originally Posted by Bowlin View Post
    What I'd really like to see is artists that can draw and paint from life so well, do a painting from life... then take a GOOD picture of the same scene (meaning a professional quality photo) and paint the same picture from it. OR do it the other way around and really point out the differences. Just comparing a photo and a painting from the same scene just doesn't cut it. Doing a few of these (painting/photo vs painting/life from same scene) should be a lot more convincing than just saying "draw from life".
    The problem here is that most people who can make a 'really good drawing or painting from life' already have the experience to breathe more life into drawing from a photo.

    Personally, the more I draw from life, the more I dislike working from photos, I end up feeling somewhat claustrophobic with photos. There are many more things I 'see' during live observation, that I can work into the piece.

    It seems that drawing from photos has taught me some nice techniques, bit drawing from life is starting to clue me into some of the not so tangible artistry.
    Last edited by Conniekat8; November 21st, 2011 at 01:23 AM.

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  6. #64
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    Is it so bad to use the right tool for the right job? Photos are good for some things. Life is good for other things. Practice from both, think about what you're doing and why and apply as needed.
    *** Sketchbook * Landscapes * Portfolio * Store***

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  8. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by armando View Post
    Even when you work from life if you want to make an effective piece of art you've got to make changes, proof: caricature. Caricature is just a super obvious example of what goes on in every piece of art. Can everyone who works from life make an effective caricature? No.
    Working from life is no guarantee that you're going to be studying form and rendering it in your drawing, proof: the Angel academy method.
    Photography has permanently changed the way we make pictures. Since everything you know about art influences everything you do in it learn as much as you can about it, and draw from every source.
    It sounds like what your saying here is that if you know and understand Design well enough, that you can make a very effective piece of art from life or photos. I'll buy that. But that's not really the point their talking about.


    I'm still surprised that no one ever just paints a life/painting vs photo/painting of the same scene to point out the differences (plus post the photo they used).

  9. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bowlin View Post
    I'm still surprised that no one ever just paints a life/painting vs photo/painting of the same scene to point out the differences (plus post the photo they used).
    It wouldn't make sense to do that. People with skill to paint well from life have also learned to make up and infuse a lot of that into additional vibrancy into painting from a photo.

    This who don't know how to paint from life couldn't do justice to a painting from life, and those who have experience are likely to 'improve' upon a photo. I'm one of those people who could do a lit from photos, and would make a mess drawing from life.... then I learned that the observational skill drawing from life is different.

    The crux of the issue that most people are tying to point out is that LEARNING from photos is not a good thing to overuse at the expense of life drawing and painting.

  10. #67
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    Connie, well how about looking at it this way... A LOT of people on this site are VERY supportive of Loomis's books. His figure drawing book that has recently been reprinted, "Figure Drawing for All It's Worth", he says that if you have the means to draw the figure from life, by all means do so. But he stresses that it's just as valid to draw from photos and construct figures from imagination (page 18). The whole point of the book is to draw the figures in the book. He says to try and get the meaning behind the drawing rather than just copying line for line and tone for tone. And this is the book that many pro's have learned from.

  11. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bowlin View Post
    Connie, well how about looking at it this way... A LOT of people on this site are VERY supportive of Loomis's books. His figure drawing book that has recently been reprinted, "Figure Drawing for All It's Worth", he says that if you have the means to draw the figure from life, by all means do so. But he stresses that it's just as valid to draw from photos and construct figures from imagination (page 18). The whole point of the book is to draw the figures in the book. He says to try and get the meaning behind the drawing rather than just copying line for line and tone for tone. And this is the book that many pro's have learned from.
    We used that book, among others in my live figure drawing class.

    The point that I was making (I'm not entirely certain if you read all of what I wrote), and I gather a lot of other people here are trying to get across is that any one method or one book or one technique will leave the person with very one sided (lopsided) skills.

    Lopsided skills is something I am personally trying to remedy right now. While I do make money from my artsy craftsy skills, it has certainly not made me a well rounded artist.

  12. #69
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    Solely learning drawing from other people's photos and illustrations = bad
    Learning to take your own photos = good
    Drawing from your own photos = good too
    Drawing from life = good
    Drawing a lot = very good
    Drawing a lot from a variety of sources including other photos master copies, life etc.. = very good

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  14. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bowlin View Post
    It sounds like what your saying here is that if you know and understand Design well enough, that you can make a very effective piece of art from life or photos. I'll buy that. But that's not really the point their talking about.
    I was mostly just saying the antonym of "when you draw from a photo you have to change it so it looks like it's done from life". Well done illustrations don't look like they're done from life but from imagination, that was why I referenced Angel academy. It is related to the discussion but not directly enough to merit continuing. There are multiple points being made here.

    If you believe that drawing is the graphic appreciation of looking at life, and the communication of this, then drawing from photos is by definition not drawing. This would mean that pros don't need to look at photos when makining an illustration, because the photo would be able to tell them very little of anything they didn't already know. People can adhere to this idea strictly or loosely.

    To me drawing is the graphic understanding of phenomena, used for communication. The transfer of experience onto paper right then and there from life is an important idea, but the way I see it we are constantly immersed in life so it's not that big of a deal to draw from a photo. Some phenomena are easier to study in photos: shattering glass, whirlpools, fast action, smoke, explosions, lightning, micro organisms, bugs. You could say it would be better to freeze a lightning bolt and study it from nature but that's unrealistic.

    If you want to know the difference between being there looking at something and drawing from a photo what you should do is to draw from memory. Pick a spot, take it's photo, then start memorizing, go home and draw what you looked at from memory, then compare it to the photo, then make corrections to the memory drawing using the photo you took. note: the last step wasn't done here
    Attachment 1368793
    Attachment 1368794

    All we've done here is gone in a circle. Suprised no one has yet mentioned that there is also the opinion that the student shouldnt start from life or photos but from master drawings, art itself. Charles Bargue.
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  16. #71
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    Good drawing is an imaginative activity.
    Drawing from life encourages the imaginative faculty because no answers are supplied.
    Drawing from photographs discourages the imaginative activity because of answers supplied by serendipidous solutions of surface pattern.

    The truth of this is demonstrated by great artists (Degas is one example) advocating that poorer photographs are better for drawing from.
    From Gegarin's point of view
    http://www.chrisbennettartist.co.uk/

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  18. #72
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    we're taught a number of methods in my classes. they tell us they are all tools we can use for this and that. The more tools you have, better off you are.

  19. #73
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    Just draw please.
    "Twisted by the dark side, young Artist has become. The boy you trained, gone he is... consumed by Deviantart."
    Please, visit my SB ~ N E C R O S K E T C H I K O N ! [Updated :: November 2011]
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  20. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie G View Post
    I can work on volume using a photograph and it sure as heck doesn't give me the answers, but if I'm working on shape, it does give me a lot more.
    But that's my point.
    It's providing a solution and your imagination goes out the window. It so easily becomes a form of 'freehand tracing'.

    This is why it is not good for beginners - and even experienced artists have to fight against this happening.
    'Not making it look like it was done from a photo' is the prime concern of those using reference. That tells you everything you need to know about the non-benifits of working from photography regarding learning how to draw.
    From Gegarin's point of view
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  22. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by armando View Post
    Suprised no one has yet mentioned that there is also the opinion that the student shouldnt start from life or photos but from master drawings, art itself. Charles Bargue.
    Jeffx mentioned when you ask a pro how to get better, usually it's "draw from life"... and it's true, but usually because it's a quick and easy answer. But if you ask them about their influences they'll tell you all about their favorite artist while growing up and how they would do countless numbers of drawings from their paintings. Realistically, that's how they started learning to draw. A lot of people do start using photo's, copying line for line and tone for tone, building up their drafting skills, but they need to start drawing from life to learn how to construct, use their imaginations and so forth... plus other artist. So, variety is a better answer.

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