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  1. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    The fact is I believe anyone who has a good visual memory, being young or old, having trained their visual memory or not, if they have it, they can copy any photo or image with accuracy. That's about it.
    No.

    Drawing is not the same as observing.

    Example: My friend I go into a room and look at a table with various objects for a certain period of time. We both walk out and are told to draw it.

    I can remember more objects on a table than my friend. He may draw a table more accurately than me because he's drawing much more. He is better at mark making because of how much he's done it. He understands perspective better.

    Memorizing what is in front of you is not the same as "learning to see" As I posted in that video - there's a part where you have to remove yourself from "argument from ignorance" and symbolism. The drawing you're trying to copy you see a face, nose eyes and wrinkles. A person learning to see is learning how to construct the face away from symbolism. They learn about how to accurately judge distances, learn form, edges, mark making etc...they want to view the face as a whole. One artist may leave out a pimple or hair, because they're trying to get the overall look. Another may focus on those details but still may not make accurate mark making.

    When one uses their visual library it is from a lot of observation. I may know what kind of metal and how it reacts because I've studied, and looked at the same metal under different conditions to see how it works. I look at a towel rack with the same metal. I learn how to construct it with combination of observation and study (similar to scientists learning how to construct events and theory).

    Learning to observe as an artist goes with learning how to draw. Just having a good visual memory can be totally irrelevant if you don't know how to draw.
    Last edited by Arshes Nei; October 25th, 2012 at 10:13 AM.


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  4. #47
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    Even thought I agree with some things you say, I don't agree with everything.

    A person learning to see is learning how to construct the face away from symbolism. They learn about how to accurately judge distances, learn form, edges, mark making etc
    This is true. But if the visual memory of the person is strong enough, then it is possible to memorize distances,form,edges etc.
    It's like tracing a photo. Anybody can trace, you just need to follow the contours of the photo with your pencil.
    A person with a strong visual memory is doing the same, only the tracing occurs from the visual memory your brain retains. (this is not draftsmanship. Its literally copying what you see.)

    And this can be trained. Even thought it's not needed to become an artist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    It's like tracing a photo. Anybody can trace, you just need to follow the contours of the photo with your pencil.
    A person with a strong visual memory is doing the same, only the tracing occurs from the visual memory your brain retains. (this is not draftsmanship. Its literally copying what you see.)
    No, not everyone can trace. If you can't draw, you can't trace.

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  7. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    No, not everyone can trace. If you can't draw, you can't trace.
    This could be. Years ago, frustrated with my inability to copy anything accurately, I tried copying by means of a grid over a reference photo (someone told me it would help to train my eye to learn to see). I found that the grid didn't help; in fact, my drawings done that way looked even less like the subject than ones in which I just eyeballed it. And boy, was it a boring way to draw!

    So what does work then? I have no idea - I still can't copy accurately!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arshes Nei View Post
    No, not everyone can trace. If you can't draw, you can't trace.
    I'm talking about simple contours here, with greaseproof paper.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    A person with a strong visual memory is doing the same, only the tracing occurs from the visual memory your brain retains. (this is not draftsmanship. Its literally copying what you see.)
    Er, no. This is NOT what you are doing when you draw from memory. There's a good deal of reconstruction, editing, and filling-in-the-blanks that happens as well. Same as when you draw anything from your head - you are pretty much never going to just "trace" a mental image, because it changes while you draw it. The very act of drawing changes it. So there's always a lot of give-and-take between the mental image and what you're setting down on paper.

    (Unless somebody is some kind of bizarre savant-type of the kind that can memorize a phonebook by glancing at it. But that's extremely rare and generally involves sacrificing basic living skills in favor of a super-memory. As far as anyone knows, this cannot be learned. Yes, people have tried experiments.)

    When I capture something in memory, it's usually a combination of specific shapes and colors AND basic structure AND the overall gestalt of a motion or attitude. Drawing it later involves parsing that info and combining it until it looks close to what I remember.
    Last edited by QueenGwenevere; October 25th, 2012 at 10:54 AM.

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  11. #52
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    Arshes Nei: I think Pegasi means mindless mapping when he/she talks about anybody can trace.

    Just to add another point to the 'better visual memory=better drawing' concept:

    Imagine someone with a photographic memory, that is to say, a perfect visual memory. They are (to coin Mr Ferrara's wonderful phrase) a camera made of meat. Drawing is synthesis out of a consciously chosen set of shape intimations extracted from an infinite flux.
    Last edited by Chris Bennett; October 25th, 2012 at 11:00 AM.
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  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    I suspect the best way to learn to draw is by combining both memory and direct observation. Work from memory sometimes, work directly from observation sometimes, mix it up sometimes. The memorization helps strengthen your ability to observe, and the direct observation helps correct any tendency to drift toward schematic ideals and also strengthens your ability to observe accurately. At least, that's been my experience so far.
    I think there is another thing that comes in here, and that is the learning of stylistic conventions. In any culture there are certain standard ways of representing particular things. Of course, one can overdo it and end up with drawings that are recognizable but that look like emoticons. However, almost all drawings will have a certain amount of emoticon-ness to them, and that is not necessarily wrong. In fact, I think it is part of the learning process. Thus, looking at and copying the work of other artists may be of much use.
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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    Er, no. This is NOT what you are doing when you draw from memory. There's a good deal of reconstruction, editing, and filling-in-the-blanks that happens as well. Same as when you draw anything from your head - you are pretty much never going to just "trace" a mental image, because it changes while you draw it. The very act of drawing changes it. So there's always a lot of give-and-take between the mental image and what you're setting down on paper.

    (Unless somebody is some kind of bizarre savant-type of the kind that can memorize a phonebook by glancing at it. But that's extremely rare and generally involves sacrificing basic living skills in favor of a super-memory. As far as anyone knows, this cannot be learned. Yes, people have tried experiments.)

    When I capture something in memory, it's usually a combination of specific shapes and colors AND basic structure AND the overall gestalt of a motion or attitude.


    There are times when I feel like I'm tracing the photo on the paper. I know that the information when it gets to your brain, it has already been edited. But its what it feels like when it happens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    Arshes Nei: I think Pegasi means mindless mapping when he/she talks about anybody can trace.

    Just to add another point to the 'better visual memory=better drawing' concept:

    Imagine someone with an photographic memory, that is to say, a perfect visual memory. They are (to coin Mr Ferrara's wonderful phrase) a camera made of meat. Drawing is synthesis out of a consciously chosen set shape intimations from an infinite flux.
    Could not agree more!

    Being able to copy exactly what you see its not art, but its a pretty good skill to have.


    By the way, I know that my thinking is flawed, thats why I made this topic from the start. And I've got some great input already!
    Last edited by pegasi; October 25th, 2012 at 11:05 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by QueenGwenevere View Post
    I suspect the best way to learn to draw is by combining both memory and direct observation. Work from memory sometimes, work directly from observation sometimes, mix it up sometimes.
    And above all, work from memory while working from life.

    From an extended discussion of memory drawing in Robert Henri's The Art Spirit:
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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  18. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post

    Being able to copy exactly what you see its not art, but its a pretty good skill to have.
    Indeed.
    It is a dangerous one. and has to be used with infinite care (like the blur/smudge tool ) Mimetic skills are the plague of all the arts.

    Briggsy: Completely agree with that Henri extract. There appear to be exceptions in the likes of William Coldstream, Cezanne, Uglow etc, but they are really a special catagory of what Henri is saying and, if intepreted rightly, follow Henri's understanding and distillation of the issue perfectly.
    Last edited by Chris Bennett; October 25th, 2012 at 11:18 AM.
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  20. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    And above all, work from memory while working from life.

    From an extended discussion of memory drawing in Robert Henri's The Art Spirit:
    I now need to buy that book.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    There are times when I feel like I'm tracing the photo on the paper. I know that the information when it gets to your brain, it has already been edited. But its what it feels like when it happens.
    Ok so how do you work from life? I see mentions of photos, but what about the subjects around you?

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    I'm not saying I draw exclusively using visual memory. Its like the Bargue's Drawing, its just a way to study.

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