I have completed three more lessons on visual measuring from the Ctrl+Paint Unplugged Traditional Drawing series--Gesture Drawing: Spoons, Drawing Shape: Contour, and Drawing Shape: Linear Block-in! The lesson on gesture drawing, something I had never really used because I'd always erroneously thought the goal was to draw perfect contours immediately, was especially helpful (and difficult). Ha!
But the more I practice, the more I find myself naturally incorporating these measuring techniques into my sketching. I think I'm making progress.
I tend to be hard on myself if I don't rise to my impossibly high standards, so I try to remember (as my Grandmother is always telling me), to find something about my work I am pleased with. You know what? I really like how this racoon turned out. (You probably can't tell from my rendering, but I referenced a ceramic my mother owns, which I have always admired. And I think I managed to at least convey the shape of it in my drawing.)
I've watched the next four Ctrl+Paint lessons, and I'm eager to begin the next assignment!
Two summers ago, a local art gallery hosted artist Gerald Cloud, who instructed a week-long drawing class based on the methods explained in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I attended, and produced this self-portrait over the last two days of class:
It was fun (I daresay the hair was much better than my usual--you should see how frightfully I had previously drawn hair--and I got to learn about visual measuring for the first time to boot), but my favourite part of the experience was getting the chance to watch the other students, some of whom had never really pursued drawing before, as they progressed. Most of their before-instruction-portraits were cartoonish, and while you might've guessed which belonged to who, the drawings hardly bared resemblance their creators. Even so, each one of our final portraits turned out beautifully.
I was regretting I couldn't show you these transformations, when I found a fellow classmate's blog post about the workshop. :D (Go take a look. Seriously. Don't read any further until you do.)
Now, with that proof having been flashed before your retinas, you will believe my next statement. The person who does not think he has an artistic bone in his body will, through Edwards' methods, be surprised to find himself capable of realistic drawing within a short period of time. Now, you won't become skillful artist, just like that. But you'll have hopefully realized that drawing isn't a magical gift granted at birth by one of the thirteen fairies. It's a skill learned with work, just like writing, or anything else. This, I believe, is the most important lesson learned from Edwards.
I think if you can find a local Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain workshop in your area, that would be ideal. But if you don't have such classes available in your area, I have listed the assignments we were given, so that you might try them on your own.
The exercises given during the week were designed to help us accurately observe and record shape and line with less frustration that we otherwise would have experienced. We never needed think, "this is far too complicated for me to draw," because we had only to observe and record in manageable chunks, then react in surprise when our drawings looked better than we expected they would.
Jump ahead in the video to each exercise: ONE [Pre Instructional Drawing] // TWO [Vases Faces] // FOUR [Upside-Down Picasso] // BONUS [Pure Palm Contour] // SIX [Your Portrait]
SOME OF MY STUFF FROM CLASS
The exercises are really fun, and work excellently to push you past your mental I-can't-draw block. But Betty Edwards is really only the beginning! I have barely scratched the surface of my understanding of art, yet I can see that there is so much more to learn--from colour and line quality, to things like constructive anatomy and gesture and tone and a bunch of other things I don't understand yet.
"Edwards’ book is an excellent place to start for someone who has a new or rekindled interest in drawing. I frequently recommend it as the book concentrates of the fundamental and most difficult problem adults face in learning to draw, and that is learning to see what is actually before them, and not what they think they see.
In other words, seek out further teachers (the blog post linked to above has a list of resources, as does my art syllabus post).
If you try, or have already tried, Edward's methods, I'd love to hear about your experience with them! Leave me a comment, and feel welcome to link to any of your work. I'll check it out.
Green grass and cool breezes,
P.S. I'm planning to update my Art Syllabus post with all of this, but it's gonna be tricky cause Weebly glitched out. So it might take a while. xD
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