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    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    Well, whatever the OP was doing, in that quote I was simply referring to the fact that memorizing the individual characteristics of a particular subject is clearly not the same thing as memorizing a generalized schema of the human figure. As it happens I do both, but others might do either one without the other.

    However the most important point to repeat is that applying visual memory doesn't necessarily involve running up and down stairs. It's something you can apply in every drawing you do. The difference between that and passive copying is well explained in the Henri quote and its continuation in the book.
    Hey briggsy,

    I think there are several different concepts floating around here. But, the two major categories in which they reside are: short-term visual memory and long-term visual memory.

    What the OP has described is use of short-term memory. What you're shooting at is, as I read it, the use and development of long-term memory. Some would call this building up your "visual library."

    As such, the OP is not doing anything other than relying on short-term memory to copy a drawing bit by bit. To which I would say, well, how does anybody copy a drawing WITHOUT using their short-term memory?

    (I understand what you're saying about the pre-digested schema. But, my take is that Hogarth would have us believe that he's producing his work from memory in the same manner as Kim Jung Ji in the above video, with the pre-digested schema being more training wheels for students of his method.)

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    If you copy a drawing by measuring angles, distances, and all that relationships, you're still using this short term visual memory, but its not the same.
    What I'm trying to do, as a study, is to rely only on my memory and try to develop it by taking little snap-shots of the subject, feeling the relationships of the subject and visualize it directly on paper (like if I'm projecting on paper what I saw). I want to try and improve this short term visual memory by adding more and more information. (off course, I don't draw like this all the time, its just a way to study).

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    What visual memory means is as the term implies, which is not as important in drawing from life as it is in drawing from imagination. The few times visual memory seems crucial in drawing from observation are during quick sketches, e.g. sketching on the train where people constantly move around, so you need to remember certain things as quick before they move. Some people have "photographic" memories(eidetic memory), and can remember pictures more vividly than others, which presumably might also help in drawing from imagination.

    The reason why visual memory is not as important in drawing from life, posing figures or still lifes, is because they tend to be more static. Such exercises require less manipulations of visuals from memory, and thus purely copying suffices most of the time. Visual memory is still important in drawing from life, especially drawing figures, to the extent of design, e.g. when a person slightly shifts his arm or leg, you're not going to erase what you have drawn and chase the figure around, you're going to have to design that element from memory using the model as reference.

    Last edited by Vay; October 27th, 2012 at 06:37 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vay View Post
    What visual memory means is as the term implies, which is not as important in drawing from life as it is in drawing from imagination. The few times visual memory seems crucial in drawing from observation are during quick sketches, e.g. sketching on the train where people constantly move around, so you need to remember certain things as quick before they move. Some people have "photographic" memories(eidetic memory), and can remember pictures more vividly than others, which presumably might also help in drawing from imagination.

    The reason why visual memory is not as important in drawing from life, posing figures or still lifes, is because they tend to be more static. Such exercises require less manipulations of visuals from memory, and thus purely copying suffices most of the time. Visual memory is still important in drawing from life, especially drawing figures, to the extent of design, e.g. when a person slightly shifts his arm or leg, you're not going to erase what you have drawn and chase the figure around, you're going to have to design that element from memory using the model as reference.
    . . . . .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short-term_memory

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    The real answer to this whole discussion is the Robert Henri passage quoted by brigssy@ashtons a couple of pages back. "Memory" means what "memory" always means, he speaks of a memory of a "vital moment" when the arrangement of visual images corresponds to a feeling, mood, or idea. Simple example: the vital moment of an eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the sun; The arrangement could be written like so: my viewpoint + moon + sun = eclipse. A fool would paint an eclipse and show the sun and the moon seperate in the blue sky. This memory of visual facts and their corresponding meaning is knowledge. The strength of a drawing depends on the knowledge of the artist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by armando View Post
    The real answer to this whole discussion is the Robert Henri passage quoted by brigssy@ashtons a couple of pages back. "Memory" means what "memory" always means, he speaks of a memory of a "vital moment" when the arrangement of visual images corresponds to a feeling, mood, or idea. Simple example: the vital moment of an eclipse occurs when the moon blocks the sun; The arrangement could be written like so: my viewpoint + moon + sun = eclipse. A fool would paint an eclipse and show the sun and the moon seperate in the blue sky. This memory of visual facts and their corresponding meaning is knowledge. The strength of a drawing depends on the knowledge of the artist.
    Yet, that's still different from what the OP is describing.

    Here's the Henri piece again:



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    The topic of this thread is "the importance of the visual memory". Post 1 of this thread is actually a jumble of ideas: "drawing accurately", "quality of memory", "likeness", "angles and proportion"... also that first website quoted sucks "the artist forgets to keep looking up at the object, with the result the drawing is sourced more from memory " I stopped reading after that. It's better to ignore all that stuff and get to the facts like brigssy and Chris Bennett have done, otherwise we start talking about irrelevent wikipedia articles that have nothing to do with drawing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamber Parrk View Post
    Hey briggsy,

    I think there are several different concepts floating around here. But, the two major categories in which they reside are: short-term visual memory and long-term visual memory.

    What the OP has described is use of short-term memory. What you're shooting at is, as I read it, the use and development of long-term memory. Some would call this building up your "visual library."

    As such, the OP is not doing anything other than relying on short-term memory to copy a drawing bit by bit. To which I would say, well, how does anybody copy a drawing WITHOUT using their short-term memory?

    (I understand what you're saying about the pre-digested schema. But, my take is that Hogarth would have us believe that he's producing his work from memory in the same manner as Kim Jung Ji in the above video, with the pre-digested schema being more training wheels for students of his method.)
    What I am shooting at is more active, intensive and conscious use of what seems to be known as working memory, which is not the same as either short or long term memory.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Working_memory
    ...............

    As I read somewhere recently, it seems to be a general rule that the more important an idea is, the harder you have to hack away at people's resistance to it. I hope that before long everyone who has so far missed out on this important idea gets a good teacher with a strong arm!

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    The proof of any theory is in the practical application of it. Show me how the artists armed with this relatively new (forty year old) information are producing better work than the ones who have succeeded without it. It really doesn't matter what you call it because it is only a small part of the experience of learning to draw. There is also hand eye coordination, controlling the medium, mark making, pressure sensitivity and a host of other experiential things happening when you draw or paint. Practice with set goals in mind will accomplish more than worrying about whether or not you are remembering things in a normal way.

    People have been learning to draw in a representational manner for 2 thousand years. Why people who start out feel the need to reinvent the wheel is beyond me. You don't need computers or brain mapping equipment. Most people will never reach the level of masters who were painting 500 years ago without any of the things or ideas being bandied about in this thread. If most of the people on here spent as much time drawing and painting as they do talking about how to go about it, maybe they could actually have careers as professional artists instead of something else. As someone who actually makes most of my income from the sale of my artwork I can tell you mastering the act of drawing and painting takes prolonged effort and not much else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    The proof of any theory is in the practical application of it. Show me how the artists armed with this relatively new (forty year old) information are producing better work than the ones who have succeeded without it.
    Just quoting this to preserve the ignorance of Degas and Robert Henri.

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    Navy SEALS and other Special Forces go through intensive visual memory/observation and recall training, and most of those guys can't draw worth shit!


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    For a beginner I don't really see how it's much relating to memory as much as experience and simply learning the ability to "see" what's in front of them.

    I have a friend that's just learning to draw. Never picked up a pencil before to put lines on paper. I tried to give him a box to draw. It was skewed and off. I pointed out "here can you see yada yada yada this is why yada yada" he couldn't see it. I erased his lines and drew my own and he let out a big long "Ohhhhhhhhh..........". Tried to explain basic perspective point it out in the room. It wasn't something he could get or see because he hadn't sat down and observed the phenomena and really see things how they are.



    Learning to draw isn't just memorizing what's in front of you, or even inputting data into your brain to draw on. It's changing your entire mental process towards something. Which can only be done through an ass ton of putting lines on paper.



    and yes I'm talking mainly about beginners here. Once you reach certain points and your processing starts to change you can easier grasp things you hadn't before. Maybe read through an old book and be enlightened in new ways. It's an ever upward slope of learning and work.

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    I must have missed the post by the guy who said learning to draw was just memorizing what is in front of you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vay View Post
    The reason why visual memory is not as important in drawing from life, posing figures or still lifes, is because they tend to be more static. Such exercises require less manipulations of visuals from memory, and thus purely copying suffices most of the time. Visual memory is still important in drawing from life, especially drawing figures, to the extent of design, e.g. when a person slightly shifts his arm or leg, you're not going to erase what you have drawn and chase the figure around, you're going to have to design that element from memory using the model as reference.
    Although true, this doesn't quite get to the heart of the matter.
    Briggsy's Robert Henri quote is very applicable here Vay, and here's why I think that is so:

    As has been said earlier, drawing from life and 'drawing from memory' are in principle, identical activities so far as what is going on in the brain. You take your eyes off the model to make a mark and you are remembering something - albeit something that happened only a second or two ago.
    The difference between a successful drawing from life and an unsuccessful one, is synthesis of the information, not accuracy.
    The same goes for a drawing 'done from memory', that is to say a drawing undertaken a longer time after the subject was witnessed.
    Now.
    The danger with drawing from life is that one continues to absorb new information without trying to synthesise and 'bring it together'. One is endlessly seduced by new obsevations that contradict earlier observations without fusing them into a totality. One makes a list rather than a catalogue.
    So.
    When working from life we have to be on our guard against the habit of listlessly adding facts in the belief 'nature knows best'. (Ruskin has a lot to answer for here - or rather those apostles of his who misunderstood his deeper message). We must be mindful of the need to sythesise what we are harvesting before gathering in more observational wheat.
    When 'working from memory' this is less likely to happen because the abscence of the model has capped the incoming sensual information. It is a finite amount, as opposed to the limitless flux of new information coming at you when in front of the model. With finite information due to memorisation of a past event that cannot be cunsulted, we are encouraged to begin the work of sythesis. That is to say, give it meaning. That is to say, make bread from the wheat.

    Last edited by Chris Bennett; October 28th, 2012 at 03:53 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    The proof of any theory is in the practical application of it. Show me how the artists armed with this relatively new (forty year old) information are producing better work than the ones who have succeeded without it. It really doesn't matter what you call it because it is only a small part of the experience of learning to draw. There is also hand eye coordination, controlling the medium, mark making, pressure sensitivity and a host of other experiential things happening when you draw or paint. Practice with set goals in mind will accomplish more than worrying about whether or not you are remembering things in a normal way.

    People have been learning to draw in a representational manner for 2 thousand years. Why people who start out feel the need to reinvent the wheel is beyond me. You don't need computers or brain mapping equipment. Most people will never reach the level of masters who were painting 500 years ago without any of the things or ideas being bandied about in this thread. If most of the people on here spent as much time drawing and painting as they do talking about how to go about it, maybe they could actually have careers as professional artists instead of something else. As someone who actually makes most of my income from the sale of my artwork I can tell you mastering the act of drawing and painting takes prolonged effort and not much else.
    Like I said, if it doesn't interest you, why are you wasting your time also? But then again, I totally agree with you (the problem is that you are assuming too much).
    For me thought, its not about reinventing the wheel, its about curiosity and interest, just that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    Just quoting this to preserve the ignorance of Degas and Robert Henri.
    Henri was a mediocre painter at best. Look at twenty of his portraits and you will see the failure of his ideas first hand. Over reliance on memory leads to affectation, repetition and caricature. The fact he could get 18 year olds fired up in a classroom doesn't say much about his artistic ability. The book of his quotes are great as inspiration but little use for people who are learning the craft of painting. He also contradicts himself never letting consistency and facts get in the way of a good chance to pontificate.
    In my judgement you are applying meaning to the Degas quote that he never intended. He was against the then popular Academic system of Gerome and others of slavishly copying what was before them and slick surface quality. A funny quote from someone who trained in the very system he maligned later in his life, who practiced copy-work well past his training, endlessly reworked his paintings and used photos extensively. The quote was to caution artists on over-reliance on facts and letting the subject dictate the work of art. Degas was contemplative and methodical about everything he put in his paintings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    Like I said, if it doesn't interest you, why are you wasting your time also? But then again, I totally agree with you (the problem is that you are assuming too much).
    For me thought, its not about reinventing the wheel, its about curiosity and interest, just that.
    I don't know why the same people come in the threads that has a discussion going, just to say "nah, don't discuss what you have an interest, just draw. The time you spend doing shit, eating and sleeping you could use drawing instead!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by pegasi View Post
    Like I said, if it doesn't interest you, why are you wasting your time also? But then again, I totally agree with you (the problem is that you are assuming too much).
    For me thought, its not about reinventing the wheel, its about curiosity and interest, just that.
    I spend my time here defending a point of view I hold about becoming a successful artist. Something most people on this site have yet to achieve. I am doing my best to insure people have my point of view and an alternative to all the navel gazing going on here(in this thread and the site in general) and I hope to influence people to just go and practice. Put in a lot of brush mileage and forget about things that don't matter.The physical act of drawing and painting, with a little curiosity and experimentation towards a set of abilities will get them so much farther toward their goal than any of the worrying they are doing about whether they are holding their pen as efficiently as they could. Or whether their mark making is caused by their deficiency to remember what they just saw in a normal way. When you are starting out its better to not worry about constantly measuring where you are and just work. If you get stuck then worry, but in my experience that rarely happens to people who are just working on their craft. Those people go farther and faster whether they are self taught or not than those who are looking around for an excuse to explain why they aren't a special snowflake like their mommies told them they were.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Over reliance on memory leads to affectation, repetition and caricature.
    I can't see how that follows. You are talking about fomula and recipe, surely?

    Whistler built his landscapes from memory.
    Then there is Constable. His six foot landscapes were made entirely in the studio. The fact that he was referring to sketches he had made in the field does not mitagate this. They were 'aide-memoirs' - things to support his memory of the emotional moment he was trying to realise as landscape.

    Last edited by Chris Bennett; October 28th, 2012 at 10:18 AM.
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    dpaint, I agree with you, but I don't see anybody worried here, its just a discussion...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    I spend my time here defending a point of view I hold about becoming a successful artist. Something most people on this site have yet to achieve. I am doing my best to insure people have my point of view and an alternative to all the navel gazing going on here(in this thread and the site in general) and I hope to influence people to just go and practice. Put in a lot of brush mileage and forget about things that don't matter.The physical act of drawing and painting, with a little curiosity and experimentation towards a set of abilities will get them so much farther toward their goal than any of the worrying they are doing about whether they are holding their pen as efficiently as they could. Or whether their mark making is caused by their deficiency to remember what they just saw in a normal way. When you are starting out its better to not worry about constantly measuring where you are and just work. If you get stuck then worry, but in my experience that rarely happens to people who are just working on their craft. Those people go farther and faster whether they are self taught or not than those who are looking around for an excuse to explain why they aren't a special snowflake like their mommies told them they were.

    I understand and agree with you. I really like your posts, but you should take it easier when people are interested in other aspects of art besides just drawing. In this topic is just a discussion going, not a "do or do not", whining, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    I can't see how that follows. You are taking about fomula, surely?
    Chris, in my opinion that is what memory is. It is a formula or symbol that acts as a stand in for fact. Too much of it and you produce work like Burne Hogarth, Robert Henri, Claude Lorraine the landscape painter and a lot of the painters before the 19th century who relied on construction and memory. I agree with David on his one point, that you need a balance of construction and observation to be a successful artist. Too much reliance on either or the exclusion of either one produces inferior work in my opinion. In my thinking, art is the synthesis of fact and symbol, each artist mixes those ingredients in their own measure.

    Its one of the reasons I enjoy your work so much, you aren't enslaved by too much construction or too much fact but the work contains plenty of truth. The result is completely your own and I think completely successful as art.

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    I'm just going to leave this here for people who are still learning to mull over,

    "Theory has no place in an artist's basic education. It is the eye and the hand that should be exercised during the impressionable years of youth. It is always possible to later acquire the accessory knowledge involved in the production of a work of art, but never -- and I want to stress that point -- never can the will, perseverance, and tenacity of a mature man make up for insufficient practice. And can there be such anguish compared to that felt by the artist who sees the realization of his dream compromised by weak execution?"

    William Adolphe Bouguereau

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    Navy SEALS and other Special Forces go through intensive visual memory/observation and recall training, and most of those guys can't draw worth shit!
    Could you elaborate? I don't see the direct connection. The kind of visual memory training they do is very different from the one I try to talk about.
    Special forces memorize things differently, they don't memorize the angles, the distances and all that relationships, its a more generalized memory, while when drawing is more specific.

    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    I'm just going to leave this here for people who are still learning to mull over,

    "Theory has no place in an artist's basic education. It is the eye and the hand that should be exercised during the impressionable years of youth. It is always possible to later acquire the accessory knowledge involved in the production of a work of art, but never -- and I want to stress that point -- never can the will, perseverance, and tenacity of a mature man make up for insufficient practice. And can there be such anguish compared to that felt by the artist who sees the realization of his dream compromised by weak execution?"

    William Adolphe Bouguereau
    Awesome words.

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    One of my teachers, who used to be a marine, said that they learned basic "visual memory" to draw maps and plans of attack in enemy emplacements and so on.
    For example, Special forces would be on the beach or in the waters, they draw scene for Intel and so on. Since, sometimes, satellites can not get a good visual, or are unavailable, or it cost too much money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Bennett View Post
    I can't see how that follows. You are talking about fomula and recipe, surely?
    Take Manet - he was formulaic - all his portraits are variations on the same face (his wife) and that includes bearded gentlemen.


    I didn't think it was possible to be called an artist when you have nothing to say. It's like being a writer who publishes individual words as books and expects to be praised for it.
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    But it was a choice, as it was with Waterhouse - not a formula adopted because of lack of formal inventiveness.
    What is great artistic achievement but the synthesis of experience into a rhyming totality. How is that achieved? A distillation of the detritus of memory into cohearence, connectivity and therefore meaning.
    This cannot be done 'on the fly'. Our experience becomes memory to fester in the unconscious and emerge compressed into undersatnding. Marble from the sediment, bread from the wheat, art from life.
    To paraphrase you Ms Spot:
    Take Monet. He was melancholic. All his landscapes were of the same place.
    His greatest work was done at the end of his life, away from the model, half blind, remembering a lifetime painting in the sunshine; transfigured inside his studio into a floating Nirvana of that which had always sought, but just eluded him in front of the motif.

    Last edited by Chris Bennett; October 28th, 2012 at 02:52 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    In my opinion that is what memory is. It is a formula or symbol that acts as a stand in for fact.
    But we can never paint facts. It will always be a memory - A beam of early morning sunlight breaks through the trees and rakes across a patch of dewy grass. We hurredly plunge the brush onto the palette, look back at the the twinkling grass with a gob of paint poised on the brush. Turn towards the canvas and make some marks. The little moment, "le petite sensation", is a second old... two seconds old... But we are staring at an area of our picture and painting a memory nonetheless.
    The green, ochre and lavender brushstrockes we have placed on the canvas are therefore just what you describe: painterly symbols that stand in for a fact.

    PS: Thanks for your compliment on my work dpaint - BTW, I agree with the general thrust of your point of view in this thread, it is definitions (as usual!) that tend to throw us all out of sync.
    And contrary to what is often thought, being clear on definitions is liberating!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamber Parrk View Post
    Visual memory is not short term memory. I actually read this in a psychology textbook, don't need Wikipedia. The title of this post is "the importance of visual memory", is this not correct?

    How would you make short term visual memory into long term visual memory? The answer is practice, and the psychological term for this is "consolidation". However, recalling consolidated memory is not always accurate; there will be certain alterations to the visual memory. This is why the use of reference is needed, to compensate for what your visuals lack in, but the more you practice drawing certain objects the more accurately the visuals of objects becomes consolidated. Thus the difference between short term visual memory and long term visual memory is consolidation.

    Last edited by Vay; October 28th, 2012 at 04:43 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vay View Post
    Visual memory is not short term memory. I actually read this in a psychology textbook, don't need Wikipedia. The title of this post is "the importance of visual memory", is this not correct?

    How would you make short term visual memory into long term visual memory? The answer is practice, and the psychological term for this is "consolidation". However, recalling consolidated memory is not always accurate; there will be certain alterations to the visual memory.
    Again. . .

    What the OP is describing it the use of short term memory in his "visualization."

    Do you have a citation for the book you read?

    And, if "visual memory is not short term memory. . ." what earthly difference does it make "how you would make short term visual memory into long term visual memory. . .?"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_short-term_memory

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