The last weeks I thought a lot about how to get better at drawing. I realised that there are many online courses out there and found the drawingacademy.com Website. I entered the art competition there to win a course because the payment installments are not for me. I would rather pay a small monthly amount than pay several hundreds of dollar at once. Anyhow, I like their approach to art and it made me think a lot!
I read a lot about drawing, even classical books by, for example, Harold Speed. I know the Bargue drawing course and tried to draw some plates. And I want to practice drawing from life more and visit appropriate courses. I think that's a good start to get better in what I do.
Thinking about my first drawings, three years back, I improved. However, I never got the feeling of drawing from imagination would be easier after those three years. I finally found the answer why this isn't the case - I did it wrong, all the time. The majority of my drawings was done from photos where I used some kind of measurements with a ruler to get the proportions right. I might say, that I produced some nice drawings over time but I didn't practice drawing along the process. Why? I want to cite the drawingacademy.com Website:
"Do you want to be able accurately copy objects exclusively in a life-size ratio?
Or do you want to be able to draw realistically whatever you see, think, or imagine, in any size of your choice?
The second skill-set gives artists much greater creative freedom and genuinely enhances their abilities.
Because the sight-size drawing method is based on copying, it is easier.
However, it does not develop such necessary skills as constructive drawing, the use of perspective, or an understanding of human anatomy.
Becoming an original fine artist takes more than just being able to copy an object." (http://drawingacademy.com/sight-size-drawing-method)
After reading this it was clear to me, why I can't draw from imagination after three years of "copying" photos. I used some kind of "sight-size" method to transfer the picture on my drawing paper. When drawing from life I use a comparative measurement technique and it is so much more rewarding. The only problem is, I can't draw from life all the time. So I started to study how to draw human anatomy. I'm nowhere near finished, I also consider proportions of human heads and the overall figure. I found a nice figure drawing course on youtube. It's from Proko (just google it) and I especially like the gesture approach. What I'm not capable of doing is defining the figure in three-dimensional objects like cubes and cylinders. This approach is a dead end for me and I envy all these people who can do it. Proko masters this approach, as you can tell from his instructional videos.
I think it's a big downturn when you have to understand that your approach to drawing was wrong. So what about all those artists who work solely from photos and who I admired all the time? They are still great artists for me but when they draw from imagination as badly as I do, I would not admire them anymore. Drawing is so much more than copying. I thought I would be happy drawing accurately from photos but as it is just a wrong way of learning something, I'm not happy anymore with myself as an artist.
Fortunately I found another website and I liked everything about it. I read many articles and you can see how the artist improved so much over time.
Especially this entry helped me:
In short, you should guess first, make your mark and than get feedback in terms of measuring. I've done that already and it's my compromise now for when I don't have a live model at hand. Next I want to concentrate more on bargue drawings. It's the sight-size method which is evil according to the the drawingacademy site, but I still think it's a nice approach for when you have to draw from photos. Also I want to continue doing master copies because I love doing them. I also want to study human anatomy a lot more. And continue drawing on locations, at cafes or at the museum. I only found time once for it, but it should be manageable, I only have to push myself.
So this was going on in my head the last weeks. It was like waking up from a great dream and then finding out it was a nightmare. I fully understand now that for becoming a better artist it is essential to draw from life and to use a comparative measurement technique. However, this should not mean giving up drawing from photos. It's just an approach I should practice a lot more.