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on nicolaides book if i remember he says look at the model and drawing it as if you were looking at it in a 90 degree angle (as if you were sitting in the place of someone else.) i guess to develop the sense of form in 3d...has anyone tried this?..seems like a very difficult thing..also giving your back to the model..turn around see as long as you want then turn around again (without facing the model and draw it..to develop a sense of visual memory...
i like nicolaides book, it focuses more in the abstract aspect of art..the feelings..is not a book on technique .
It is very much a book on technique. It gives you a working understanding on the mechanics of drawing. But only if you follow through the schedules. I'm on chapter 14 now, and did every exercise for as long as specified.
To my understanding, there are three ways to learn to draw well. One is the atelier way, drawing bargues, casts, and from life a lot. The second is following "The Natural Way To Draw". The third is drawing a lot, reading all the books you can find and spending as much time as possible with good teachers. Neither is foolproof, and one cannot substitute the other.
Now the exercises you described are quite a way into the book, chapter 7 or something like that. Without the preceding exercises, you can not - if you haven't had different, strong education - complete this exercise well. The book gives you a foundation that enables you to draw any way you want in that it takes the biggest problems out of your way. It does not do the work for you, it just enables you to do it yourself. For instance when copying old master drawings, i can copy them on directly to a piece of paper as if i'd trace them on transparent drawing paper, with no effort at all. At a life drawing session, i'd put my pencil to the paper and copy the models proportions with no lay in or trial and error, as if writing words in a book. Of course, making the drawing look good is another problem, but i'm confident the coming chapters will help me with that, i still have 11 chapters to complete. Among them are anatomy, light and shade, composition and design.
The book is not about feelings or abstract concepts. It is about seeing masses, relating values, and anatomy. It is about the essence of art, and it is a great foundation to drawing realistically. It helped me loosen up, seeing contour lines and masses, drawing things as three dimensional objects, understanding compositions, varying lineweights, all the things essential to good draftsmanship. I still have a good way to go with the book, but if you want to draw the way Loomis, Bridgman and others did, it will help you grasp the concepts they describe.
For instance, when Loomis and Bridgman show you how to build the head from spheres and boxes, you think to yourself well, this is pretty easy. Then you draw many heads from circles and squares, but you have no grasp of why the lines you draw don't seem to have volume. Reading about a concept is nothing, and Nicolaides knew that. He makes you experience the concept for yourself. You cannot drive a car because you read a manual, and you cannot draw like Loomis just by copying his drawings. Some people have a natural grasp of it, or learn it by experimenting, like Marko Djurdjevic, but most have to seek guidance. This is where the book comes in.
One more thing, you cannot just read the book and think your mind would do the work for you. It is not enough to try some of the exercises, because they all build on each other. Nicolaides even says that if you read into the book before working through it the way he laid it out for you, you may not be able to profit from the exercises anymore, because your mind is preoccupied with thinking it knew everything already.