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  1. #61
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    Ups and Downs

    This morning I read this post and was buzzing,I thought that Frazetta guy doing that stuff from his mind Is amazing,I left to work in the shop with a smile on my face.(Its true I am a serious figurative artist and that is sacred to me and I really feel all that mark making is my soul force etc...)But I love a naked woman holding a sword as much as the next guy so imagine my dismay when I arrived back from work to read he was a fraud all along.So I thought to myself -that does it,I can prove to myself one way or the other by trying to do a single figure from memory in the Frazetta style and even though it will never be as good as the man him self it should give me the answer to the question.Q.Memory or Reference.
    Obviously through out art history paraphrasing your heros in your own work has went on for hundreds of years(I,m eluding to the use of a single figure copy)...........by the way the answer might be no,no Christopher you cant draw a figure from memory that looks half decent.


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  3. #62
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    Here's the deal: Frazetta painted figures from his imagination, from models, and from other artists' work, and, without seeing a painting and it sources side-by-side, you can't tell which is which. That's the all-important takeaway.

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  5. #63
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    Well I wouldn't say it's a "swipe" but saying Frazetta didn't use reference. I remember him mentioning a photo of his wife and it ended up being used in one of his paintings. I don't got the book by me right now so I'm sure someone will post it.

    I particularly don't care he used his wife as reference. But I have a hard time believing it was "just from memory" it's not discredit to the works he's done because he's really inspirational. I just don't see the harm in admitting "yeah wife posed and I took it from there".

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  7. #64
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    Utterly not,as soon as photography was invented and became practical for the general user many major artists from art history used it with out any negative implication (Rodin,Degas,Picasso,etc)but to eliminate a layer of mechanical process from the expression of paint or any other medium may be a beneficial removal of a veil under certain circumstances.So if it is possible to have this power of figure from memory I am Interested.

  8. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    You either use reference or you don't. I've shown and stated all great artists use ref. This includes Frazetta. So why are you and others arguing that artists don't use it.
    Because there is a distinction between "using reference" and "using reference" sometimes. Take Brad Rigney for example. He will practice off the page to a problem for hours in order to commit it to memory. Then he'll come back to the painting and paint it from memory. Iaian McCaig uses a similar process.
    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Frank said a bunch of stuff in his last days that contradicted himself when he was younger. In the old fanzines there were pictures of him posing for paintings and comic panels. I think its sad he felt he needed to be better than he was. He is probably the greatest American fantasy artist of the 20th century.
    Well I can't comment too much on Frazetta since I'm not really a fan like some others but a rational explanation could be that maybe as he got older he committed more and more to memory. To give an example of this. I remember reading a post from Marko where he stated that he loved Ctrl-Z while he paints. In a later post he stated that he doesn't use Ctrl-Z while he paints. Marko evolved in that direction. Marko also draws and paints from memory as well.
    Its a given that in order to draw from memory you have to draw from life and use references first. You have to commit it to memory through repetition and study. I'm not so sure what the quote actually is about Frank but it may just be that he can paint from memory well and not than he didn't use references.
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  9. #66
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    No there isn't Jason. There's no qualifier on it. Using reference means to refer to something for information; life, photos, an object, other works of art or illustration. If someone says they never use ref and then use it they're just a liar and shame on them for confusing the issue for people starting out trying to gauge what they need to learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by C McElhinney View Post
    ... so imagine my dismay when I arrived back from work to read he was a fraud all along.
    Noooo... I wouldn't ever call Frazetta a fraud. It's really difficult to explain and for the general public to understand methods of using reference. It's hard for a lot of pros!! No matter how much reference comes out of the woodwork, I still have a lot of respect for the man's work. He created his own design and style. He knew how to take an idea and make it a thousand times better. He's still "The Man" in my opinion.

    So with that said, here's some more examples...

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  12. #68
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    The following is NOT an opinion: Frank Frazetta was way, way, wayyyyyy more talented than the average artist. To not get that understanding is a kind of failure of the imagination.

    All you have to do is look at what he doodled in his notebooks to see the incredible amount of information he could call upon from his imagination. I have seen almost every prelim he did for almost every painting he did and most of the information in the final paintings is already in the initial sketch. And what was left out was anatomy and lighting, which we know from looking at his notebooks he could well do out of his head.

    I would say way more than 50% of his work is unreferenced. Yet I am sure he used reference all the time when he felt he needed. None of the ref was slavishly copied.

    As I see it, the myth around Frazetta's artistic prowess is actually not all that much of myth.
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  14. #69
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    I could definitely see more than 50% of his work is unreferenced! I imagine when he did use reference, he probably found it before he even did his rough? Anyways, no doubt he could outdraw anyone from memory too.

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    I'm not impugning Franks talent; but there is no need to lie about using reference to beginners; this idea you are a failure or your cheating if you use ref is BS. Everybody worth their salt uses it.

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    I don't think anyone is arguing on his ability. But rather just giving a bit of truth where something became a tall tale.

    Just because Frazetta used some reference doesn't equate to "completely from memory"
    And just because he used some reference doesn't equate to "he can't draw from memory"

    There is no black and white side to take here.

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  18. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    I'm not impugning Franks talent; but there is no need to lie about using reference to beginners; this idea you are a failure or your cheating if you use ref is BS. Everybody worth their salt uses it.
    Beginners also tend to slavishly copy photo reference, which only makes you good at copying photos, and you wont retain much from that. I say do studies of reference, but only take what you need, no use polishing. Then put the reference away and do it from your head.

    It seems TOO pointless to just do a study of something, without then testing what you've retained.

  19. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    No there isn't Jason. There's no qualifier on it. Using reference means to refer to something for information; life, photos, an object, other works of art or illustration. .
    Artistic reference isn't thought of so abstractly. When someone claims that no reference was used we understand exactly what that means. No one is really going to say "Yes you did because you referred to the humans that you've seen before and that now you have memorized." As if its the same thing as shooting a model(s) and copying elements or the whole. That's just not the essence of the discussion here.

    Frazetta is known for having painted most of his pictures straight from his head, instead of the standard practice (among realists) of relying on models. This approach may seem to be a foolish handicap, or even proof of laziness. But I believe it enabled Frazetta to compose pictures of greater power than most of his contemporaries. To quote
    the excellent Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting:

    "The memory exaggerates the essentials; the trifles of incidents tend to become blurred. Protracted painting of what one sees before him dulls the initial expressive shock. In painting from memory, the whole stress is laid on expressive agents. In direct-from-nature painting, much useless lumber insinuates itself, interesting for its own sake, but derogatory to the whole. The eye is greedy. There is always too much material seen, with not enough synthesis. Until mastery of memory is reached,
    the brain refuses to act as a filter."
    I'm don't think Frazetta ever claimed to never use reference.
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  20. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Ross View Post
    I'm don't think Frazetta ever claimed to never use reference.
    I remember quite a few denials in the books I read.

    http://www.raggedclaws.com/home/2009...yeth-frazetta/

    But read the comments below after you read the article.

  21. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Ross View Post
    Its a given that in order to draw from memory you have to draw from life and use references first. You have to commit it to memory through repetition and study.
    First, just wanty to say I appreciate the discussion has been productive and civil.

    This is the sticking point for me though Jason. Correct me if I'm wrong, but "first" implies that at some point you know enough and have committed enough to memory that you no longer need reference? And that somehow you can commit to memory the nuances of light, form, texture, etc. through repetition and study?

    And I think we've all agreed that yes, to a certain extent you can develop relatively generic or stylized forms accurately. In Frazetta's case a handful of archetypes were easy for him to call into being, again, to a certain level of realism (sketches, composition layouts, etc.).

    So back to why I'm stuck on the notion of getting to a certain point and then it is committed to memory (which relates directly to the OP's original question).

    I don't believe it is true, and I think it is a major misconception, that you can "memorize" or study enough the infinite variables of light, form, texture and color to reproduce it at will from imagination. Particularly in the context of a scene and the complexities and relationships found therin.

    Basically to me it is an axiom in art that the more "realistic" or natural result one is attempting the more one needs to work from life. The proof of this axiom is that artists and illustrators do exactly that. Which was implied in my original question as to why would artists bother with models after a certain point if it wasn't necessary?
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