Drawing Naturally vs. Constructively

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  1. #1
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    Unhappy Drawing Naturally vs. Constructively

    So I've hit a bump in the road that's been bothering me for some time. A while ago I was attending life drawing sessions on an almost daily basis, and got to a nice standard of work according to some people. It seems I may have plateaued, and shortly after realizing this, I started asking around my school for advice on how to reach a better standard.

    The thing is...I didn't get the advice I was expecting. Virtually everyone (professional faculty, students in their fourth and final year) told me to 'just keep drawing' and let your mind do the work, or 'keep doing what you're doing.' This started to really frustrate me after a while, because I thought that I still had some issues in my work, but I felt that they were maybe non-issues because no one would comment on them. I also wanted to do exercises or have a specific goal while I went to these lifedrawing sessions, but I kept being told to just draw and that exercises would ultimately hinder me (or maybe my process to draw what I see; like drawing a loomis head instead of an actual one). Every once in a while I got comments like 'work on your feet or necks' but I still didn't feel like this was enough direction.

    In the end, all this indecision may have led me backwards, in the sense that I don't know what information to trust, and have I stalled my ability to learn.
    This problem is reaching to other areas of my drawing too, like when I do cafe sketches or try to draw from imagination.

    Note: There's some examples of my work on the fourth post.

    Last edited by J.Geo; May 31st, 2012 at 04:45 PM.
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  3. #2
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    Hi J.Geo.

    Without seeing some of your work, it's going to be difficult for anyone to give much more than generic advice.

    Generic advice:
    - Challenge yourself. Find something difficult and practice it until it's easy. You don't learn much from doing easy things.
    - Do in depth studies. Anatomy, master copies, etc. Learn things in detail.
    - Draw from life. Expand your mental library of what things look like.
    - Change things up all the time. Set artificial limitations on the methods or materials used in a drawing session. This forces you to innovate and get out of your comfort zone. Limitations breed creativity.
    - Look at the art of people better than you. Figure out what makes it better.

    I also wanted to do exercises or have a specific goal while I went to these lifedrawing sessions, but I kept being told to just draw and that exercises would ultimately hinder me
    That person is wrong, and should be ignored.

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  4. #3
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    Where's your stuff?

    It's always a challenge to break through a new threshold...you just have to do whatever feels right for you. Asking for lots of other opinions will of course lead to hearing lots of other opinions...and advice from others on what worked for them. If you want to thin down that advice then look to the artists and styles of work you like and pay attention that what they offer.

    In the end the only one you can trust is yourself, so take control of your own direction and move forward with passion.

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    It's simple and complex problem at the same time.

    You can find answer when you just test your knowledge in drawing/painting stuff that you're aspiring for (which can be anything so it's hard to give specific advice). If studies don't help then you need to change approach to something different that's more suitable. Be prepared though that it can take some time or even going in circles before you figure out what's missing for you. In other words you have to think a bit like scientist .

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    Sorry about that, I'll post up some of my recent work in this post, and hopefully that'll help if there are any future replies. I'm interested in animation, and right now my aim is to draw structurally sound figures based on quick poses and strong gestures. At the moment I'm studying human anatomy and cafe sketching, and doing some animation on the side.

    Although all the advice you guys have given has already proven to be helpful. It's making me glad that I posted.

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    Exercises hindering depends on the level your at. I can't count the beginners that come in making threads "How do I draw gud?" and every time people reply 'just draw'.

    If your in a life drawing session you already have a goal no? Drawing from life.
    Do that.

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  10. #7
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    Forgive me if I'm misunderstanding what you're asking..

    I draw a lot from imagination and that has been pretty good at helping me identify my weak points. Most weeks when I go to my life drawing session I come in looking to focus on whatever part of drawing the figure that was giving me trouble through the week. Sometimes I will even ignore the figure as a whole and move about the room making studies of whatever I am focusing on.

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    You're unhappy with the advice that your teacher and fellow students are giving you, but they are correct. You just need to draw a lot more. If you need a laundry list of stuff you need to work on, you can't expect someone to pick one or two things and tell you that. It really wouldn't be in your best interest. You are placing false expectations on yourself. You can't schedule progression. Sometimes a off hand comment will click with you and you'll progress to a new level, but other times it is just like killing little monsters in a video game. Each one gives you more experiance points and you gradually move on to bigger badder foes. If you keep practicing you'll be ready for the big boss fight at the end of the level.

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    You have to learn to see the structure in what you are looking at. This divide between "naturally" vs "structurally" is imaginary. Get rid of the misconception and learn to see the structure in everything.

    And, yes, draw a lot more.

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    Just as everyone else says, keep on drawing. And even though my teachers are telling me not to draw out the structure of the person i see in front of me while drawing from life. I stopped doing that, but I`m trying to consciously THINK (my teachers cannot complain about that since they don`t know, gna gna ) about that structure and apply it to what i`m currently seeing, that is how you can throw in feeling, notice differences from the ideal model and personality in my opinion.

    keep on going !

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    If you're stuck and all that you're told to do is keep your foot on the gas, that's not very helpful. Definitely keep drawing, but draw smartly. Identify for yourself what it is you don't like about what you're doing and change it.

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    Find someone who will actually teach you something. Like this guy'

    http://barnstonestudios.com/learn-to-draw-videos/

    Watch the clips, see if they stir anything.

    "Talent is a word found in the mouth of the lazy to dismiss the hard work of those who have achieved."
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  17. #13
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    if these are life drawings, they don't actually look like life drawings. they look like you're affecting some style rather than drawing what's there.

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    I'm totally not into the whole drawing-for-animation thing. I've never been a fan of the look and I don't suppose I ever will be.

    I would urge you to continue doing what you're doing- drawing in the manner you wish to work in is, of course, very important. However, also make naturalistic drawings that are as close to life as you possibly can. It really doesn't matter how you want to end up drawing- this practice will always help you.

    Also do copies of artists you admire- not so that you may draw like them, but that you may understand like them. See what they see. What they drew was what they saw- look through eyes more experienced than yours and you will learn. Then look through their eyes at your subjects. It's as if they we're there to critique your work first hand. Doing studies based on the aesthetic of greats has shown me a lot.

    Also don't think that drawing will ever be a totally conscious process. The years of practice will manifest themselves in ways in which you would be hard-pressed to understand. You don't build up a bank of information that is to be called upon- it informs your work in real-time.

    Lastly I would encourage you to seek support and comfort not in exercises and rote, but in seeing the beauty of the world around you. Often we go into life class as soldiers. Spend a few minutes every session appreciating what you're looking at.

    How else will you find what is really there?

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  19. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by drd View Post
    I'm totally not into the whole drawing-for-animation thing. I've never been a fan of the look and I don't suppose I ever will be.
    A little off topic, but what do you mean drawing-for-animation, specifically?

    J. Geo: have you thought about taking you drawings, overlaying tracing paper, and with an anatomy book on hand going through using construction/proportion to correct the problems? You might also find it helpful to take an anatomy book with you to your lifedrawing class.

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  20. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alice Herring View Post
    A little off topic, but what do you mean drawing-for-animation, specifically?
    The general aesthetic employed by those drawing the human figure for use in cartooning or in any other drawn moving medium. It's the image my mind fetches for me when I think about figures drawn for use in animation.

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    Alice - I've never really heard of doing that before, but it seems pretty helpful so I'll give it a shot.

    From what I've been exposed to, there is a sort of 'drawing for animation,' where poses that last minutes are ideal over ones that last hours. I personally thought that it was okay that my stuff looked a little cartoony, thinking it was inevitable seeing that I'm simplifying everything to get a pose down in a short amount of time.
    However, I was considering going to Toronto's Academy of Realist art and learning how to draw more realistic figures, but it's expensive and I haven't figured if it's worth it or not.

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  22. #18
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    There certainly are many great drawings that could be classified as 'cartoony'. I don't mean to denigrate these. They are masterful. It just isn't my personal favorite aesthetic.

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  23. #19
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    Even if you want to focus on animation, you should focus on being able to draw realistically. The better your understanding of actual anatomy, the better you'll be able to simplify it for animation.

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  24. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by SmallPoly View Post
    Even if you want to focus on animation, you should focus on being able to draw realistically. The better your understanding of actual anatomy, the better you'll be able to simplify it for animation.
    Well. The only caveat is someone interested in animation will likely find studies/classes that focus more on learning through construction more useful than focusing on sight-sizing. (Although from my understanding the two can't be completely divorced into separate areas?) Somewhere there is an entire thread discussing the difference of the two.

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