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Thread: The importance of visual memory

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    The importance of visual memory

    Hi guys,

    Being the eternal beginner that I am, here is a beginner opinion on visual memory:

    Has I draw more and more, I start to think that the reason why some young people have an head start in drawing is because they have a good visual memory and the ability to retain more information in their brain.
    Especially when drawing people from life, that are constantly moving and changing angles, this skill is very important.

    Drawing an object involves looking at the object and then looking down upon the paper in order to record what is seen. Of course, whilst the artist is looking down, the subject matter in front is not longer being looked at. Drawing accurately means retaining what has been seen and transferring this information down onto the paper. But in many cases, a short term visual memory can interfere with the accuracy of the drawing.
    source



    There are times when I can retain some information of the subject I'm drawing. When this happens, I can visualize a portion of the subject in the paper and draw easily. For me, its an amazing feeling , and I'd like to feel like that the entire drawing.

    I leave an example of this drawing. After I finished I was tired, burned out and my head hurts. I tried to copy as close has I could, but it took all the concentration I have.

    Edit 25-10-2012:
    I have to stress that it is a very difficult thing to do if you are starting out, at least for me, but it's trainable. And as QueenGwenevere said on the second page, it gets better with training.
    It's a great feeling when you can visualize the information in the paper before you put any mark on it, and I'm very interested in this kind of visualization.

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    There are several other reasons why memory training is useful, for the landscape painter outside where things are constantly changing, a memory of the way it looked before is very useful. But the subtler and most important reason in my estimation is this. When you are working from life, you make an observation from nature, when you then look away from nature and look at your canvas or paper, you must recall what you just saw. The quality of the memory you formed a second or two before is extremely important. It is not so much that you will have forgotten what you saw, but the ability of your mind to store it in the first place. Imagine a recording made on fine studio recording equipment, a lot of good information is there. But if recording is done on poor quality equipment, the information is muddled, incomplete or unclear.
    Source


    I will keep this quote for understanding purposes. But it's not meant to be read literally. It just expresses the idea that good visual memory is connected with the ability to copy something by drawing. If you have it and you're not trained, you can copy better than if you don't
    Since the dawn of human art-making, the divide has been clear: There are people who can effortlessly sketch an object's likeness, and people who struggle for hours just to get the angles and proportions right (by which point the picture is scarred by eraser marks, anyway). What separates the drawers from the drawer-nots?
    Source

    If you draw by measuring this becomes easier, a good book is "Drawing Essentials". But I'm not discussing this method, even though its a good method, it falls short in drawing moving objects from life.



    The good thing is:
    "There are few human skills which don't improve with practice."

    It would be cool to hear some ideas from you guys,
    Thanks
    Last edited by pegasi; October 25th, 2012 at 10:00 AM. Reason: tried to explain better..
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    Since the dawn of human art-making, the divide has been clear: There are people who can effortlessly sketch an object's likeness, and people who struggle for hours just to get the angles and proportions right (by which point the picture is scarred by eraser marks, anyway). What separates the drawers from the drawer-nots?


    ^This is is new age twaddle. There are no people who draw effortlessly. Don't buy into this crap. Drawing and painting is hard, its takes a long time to learn. That's why there are no young child prodigies in representational art like there are in music.

    As to your first point, learning to draw moving people from life is learning proportion. A person has a number of things that don't change size in relation to the whole body even in motion. Once you know these things you don't waste time looking at all the things that do change. So when drawing you learn to mark these things first in the pose you want. Its construction and accurate mark making more than memory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    I leave an example of this drawing. After I finished I was tired, burned out and my head hurts. I tried to copy as close has I could, but it took all the concentration I have. I felt me breathing very quickly to maintain concentration.
    I know what you mean. I have fought a long and mighty battle with achieving any accuracy, and I know from experience that a more or less successful drawing (after more than twenty years of study and practice, I have yet to achieve a completely successful one!) usually leaves me so drained and exhausted that I can't draw for days afterward.

    I do think that at least as far as the ability to accurately copy what we see is concerned, short-term visual memory plays an important role. In my case, my short-term visual memory seems to be more or less non-existent - I have kind of given up on trying to copy anything.
    ____________________________________________
    My sketchbook thread:
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...ight=blogmatix
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Its construction and accurate mark making more than memory.
    But by making accurate marks you need to use memory
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    Quote Originally Posted by blogmatix View Post
    I know what you mean. I have fought a long and mighty battle with achieving any accuracy, and I know from experience that a more or less successful drawing (after more than twenty years of study and practice, I have yet to achieve a completely successful one!) usually leaves me so drained and exhausted that I can't draw for days afterward.

    I do think that at least as far as the ability to accurately copy what we see is concerned, short-term visual memory plays an important role. In my case, my short-term visual memory seems to be more or less non-existent - I have kind of given up on trying to copy anything.
    This.

    (oops, sorry for the double post)
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    Just to note, your sketchbook link doesn't work.

    Why not try drawing the same thing again, after you've drawn more and see if you think it's such a struggle. Like say, do it in 2 months, or 1. Try again in a year. People don't look at the baby steps of their progress look for excuses why they can't get something right instead of looking at the progress they have made.

    So either sit there and make excuses why it's not coming out right this time, or look at what you're doing right and just keep learning. Up to you.

    It's not that you can't have your frustrations, but it amazes me how many people make more excuses than drawing. When I saw my friend drawing he was like a machine. He still makes lots of crap drawings but the ratio started turning because he kept going, not looking for things to make him stop or piss over "Why he won't be as good as X"

    Even though I don't have time to draw as much due to work, I'm not complaining. I don't make topics to make excuses - because I know I have to work at it. I may never be as good as "x" but you know what? Fuck it. I get better each time I draw.

    But this maybe another thread why people should read the book Art & Fear.
    Last edited by Arshes Nei; October 24th, 2012 at 10:48 AM.
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    Just to note, your sketchbook link doesn't work.
    Thanks


    o either sit there and make excuses why it's not coming out right this time, or look at what you're doing right and just keep learning. Up to you.
    I think I'm doing that. You got the wrong message.
    One way to improve is to try to understand why things work. If by training my short term visual memory I will improve my drawing than its great. Same thing for learning about light, color etc. This is how one practices effectively.
    I haven't stopped drawing, nor will I. I'm just learning more about myself and trying to find ways to improve.
    Getting others opinions is a good start.

    And just to note, I believe strongly that one can go very far just by working hard.
    Last edited by pegasi; October 24th, 2012 at 11:01 AM.
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    You get better the fastest by literally just putting miles on paper. Draw a ton from observation. The stuff in front of you. Draw people. Draw anything and everything. Be aware of proportions and actively observe what's going on in the drawing. Everyone when they start gets stuck in the "What should I do, and how should I do it phase". When I found I improved the most when I stopped asking about things and just did it. Then later without even realizing it I looked back and realized I improved. Often even with reading material I've found myself going back over books because I just simply wasn't at the level to use them properly yet.


    When it comes to drawing from observation. The more you draw the more you can see, the more you can see the more you can draw.
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    When doing studies like this, don't imitate the marks on paper. Imitate the original artist's thinking and method.

    Yes, it's much harder than imitating the marks; but it makes you think of how and why the artist made those particular marks. Much more useful as a learning exercise.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arenhaus View Post
    When doing studies like this, don't imitate the marks on paper. Imitate the original artist's thinking and method.

    Yes, it's much harder than imitating the marks; but it makes you think of how and why the artist made those particular marks. Much more useful as a learning exercise.

    How exactly do you do something like that? I must be overthinking what you mean.
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    Since the dawn of human art-making, the divide has been clear: There are people who can effortlessly sketch an object's likeness, and people who struggle for hours just to get the angles and proportions right (by which point the picture is scarred by eraser marks, anyway). What separates the drawers from the drawer-nots?
    PRACTICE.

    There is no such thing as mystical-magical-automatic talent. The "drawers" are the people who actually draw. The "drawer-nots" are the people who sigh wistfully and wish they could draw while waiting for someone to hand them the magickal key to drawing.

    (And let's not derail this thread with blather about savants who can copy pictures from memory or recite the entire phone book after glancing at it, we all know that's not applicable to the practical question of learning how to draw.)
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    guys, I know the way to improve is to work hard.
    What I'm trying to say is that I think short term visual memory is an important skill to have and that you can improve it. Some of the links on my first post show some exercises.
    You can do a million different types of exercises to improve and I think this type of training can be one of them.

    I think the problem is because I showed one of my drawings instead of just talking about the subject, in some way I made the thread personal... but this is not about me..
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    Visual memory is about having good theories on what you are drawing.

    For instance, if you study face construction methods and anatomy you will know what to notice in a face. You will know the proportions, skull structure, basic planes. You will have learned what makes eyes, nose, ears, lips their shape and how they go in the face and why. You will know how to make variations from the standard. You will also know that when drawing from life you should use that knowledge and break down what you see into simple shapes. So you have this complex description of what a human head is memorized, which is a deep understanding of it. When you look at someone and draw the person, you are drawing your understanding.

    I drew a young guy from memory who I saw in the subway. I was too shy to draw him from life. I didn't manage to memorize all his features (I didn't notice his ears at all, for instance) because the face shape, nose and eyes were my focus. It's not a great drawing by any means but it's at a standard better than an absolute beginner who stares at a face and yet can't put what he sees on paper because he hasn't learned what to see and I've read some Loomis and looked at some Rilley tuts, so I'm a bit ahead.
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