Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Drawing from Memory

This year I am hoping to study human anatomy in order to be able to draw more of what I see in my mind. Recently I found an article on drawing from memory that was an encouragement to continue my efforts. Note that this post is based on that article, in the American Artist Drawing Magazine's Fall 2004 issue - "Drawing from Memory".

Artists use this skill generally and some specific artists in particular excel at it. As has been said, every artist moves their eyes from their subject to their drawing, in that interval, they must memorize what they saw. That is a general use of this skill. In particular, this skill was commended by Leonardo da Vinci and Sir Joshua Reynolds. James Whistler used it famously for his nocturnes series. And Edgar Degas is reputed to have drawn from memory when his eyesight failed and he could no longer view models.

Above you see a sketch I did from memory, based on the from life sketch I had made earlier that day. Initially it was the lines between the peppers that captured my attention, I didn't manage to capture it in the first sketch, and had completely forgotten it by the evening. Ah well, we must begin somewhere...


Jeanette said...

I think we can all draw from memory up to a point. We can create recognizable shapes, but they don't hold the detail realism that life or references provide to the artist.

Now of course not everyone wants realism and in that case, the mind's eye view works beautifully. However, in my 30 odd years of drawing and painting, I've yet to meet a person who draws completely from memory.

References or life are the starting point to achieve the guidelines needed to make recognizable objects. After that, the sky's the limit.

Rose Welty said...

I agree Jeanette. I wonder if, over time though, one's ability to create "detail" expands because one can guess what it would be, even if one can't remember it? Of course this only applies to things that one has drawn many times before.

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Its interesting Rose. Its interesting to do a couple of the videos drawing from the Human Mind on youtube. In the first few he talks about reprogramming the brain with formulas to drawing the human body so that you eg. an eye is postiioned here and the knee is here. I find i am much better at drawing humans as my memory isnt always acurate and it helps create which i see with my mind with some guidelines.. its a great help (if i remember to practice :)

love the new blog header btw looks great :)

Valerie Jones said...

Thanks for sharing, Rose. I would love to draw from memory. You did a fantastic job on the peppers from memory. I have found the more I draw a certain shape, it is easier to draw the shadows where I think they would be. The more you practice, the easier it will come to you.

Rose Welty said...

Belinda, thanks for the tip on the videos, I'll have to check those out. I never think to look on Youtube - I guess I'm a little dated. Glad you like the header - with everyone putting images in theirs, mine just became very plain. :D

Valerie, thanks for the encouragement.