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Seeing like an artist

From: Foundations of Drawing

Video: Seeing like an artist

So what I want you to do is grab a piece of computer paper. Does it look anything like this? If it does, then you're on the right track. Okay, a tree might look very similar to the cloud, but So if we ask 100 people on the street to do a drawing of So take, for example, drawing a house.

Seeing like an artist

So what I want you to do is grab a piece of computer paper. Just a 3B pencil and I want you to draw a cloud. Not from looking out the window or any images, just from a memory. Just to draw a cloud. Okay? I'll wait for you to do that. Does it look anything like this? If it does, then you're on the right track. This is a classic cloud symbol drawing. Now I want you to draw a tree. Okay, a tree might look very similar to the cloud, but just with these 2 lines which suddenly now makes it a tree. So if we ask 100 people on the street to do a drawing of a cloud, you'll find a real similarity in all the drawings that are produced.

And this is because we all rely on our memory and our symbol system that we learnt when we're children as we draw. And this is what we've gotta try and break through, to actually draw something realistically rather than relying on our memories to try and help us to draw what we think should be there. So take, for example, drawing a house. This is the classic memory drawing of a house. So why does that cause us a problem when we're approach drawing when we're older? Even when we know that a house doesn't actually look like this.

But on a subtle level, our memories of what an object should look like influences our perception of what the object actually does look like. So imagine you're on holiday and you see a lovely view out in front of you and you think, right, that's it, I'm going to get the pencils out and have a go at drawing it. So you setup your pad, setup your pencil and start to sketch exactly what you see in front of you. And more often than not, the very first things that you start to draw actually look really accurate. The lines are looking good.

And, everything's working well in the drawing. And, it's only when you get to a stage, which your left hand side of your brain, perceives as being more tricky or more difficult, so it saves your boat in the distance that you start to try and make sense of it. And your logical brain says, that bone can't be that small in the distance. You have, it tries to help you out, and it tries to change what your observation is. So what often happens, is when you get to the end of your drawing, you'll say, well what happened there? It started off really well and then it looks like a child's done it.

And that's because your brain is subconsciously relying on those memories that happened when you were a child. That's what we've got to learn: how to actually begin to learn to see what's in front of you. And when your left brain says I can help, I can help. You say I don't need that help. I just need to concentrate on what's there. So first thing we're going to look at is the amazing power of upside down drawing, as it helps to abstract what we're looking at and really help to learn the concepts and the principles of how drawing works, and how you can learn to see like an artist.

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Foundations of Drawing

33 video lessons · 10199 viewers

Will Kemp
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