Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How to Study Drawing: Harold Speed 8

This post gives some highlights from chapter 7, entitled, The Study of Drawing, from Harold Speed's book on drawing. On my favorites page you can see all of the posts in this series.

Up until this point in the book, Speed has discussed that there are two approaches to drawing - a line centered approach and a mass centered one. So, it is natural that he then argues the student should study both aspects of drawing - beginning simultaneously and separately. Essentially, one should draw entirely with line without regard to tone or mass in one drawing and then in the next drawing work entirely with masses and tones, without regard to line. Eventually, the two styles will converge but in the mean time, he argues, there is plenty to learn.

Below I give bullet point lists of Speed's points (because the modern reader finds this easier) but these are essentially quotes from Speed.

Line drawing teaches:
  • accurate observation
  • expressive value of line
  • hand coordination
Mass drawing teaches:
  • the importance of tone values
  • the expression of form by means of planes
If you only study line drawing, you will lack:
  • knowledge of the tone and atmosphere that always envelop form in nature
  • the ability to switch to a brush when you take up painting
If you only study mass drawing, you will lack:
  • accurate observation of all the subtleties of contours and the construction of form
  • understanding of the mental stimulus that the direction and swing  a brush stroke can give

In my own experience, I can definitely say that my studies have been strong in line and weak in mass. I'm therefore very encouraged to spend more time working with masses in my studies. At the top and bottom of this post I've put a few more drawings from my venture into Bargue's drawing course - these are focused line drawings aiming at observation and accuracy - and it appears I need work there too!


Teresa said...

Hmmm.... very interesting. I appreciate you taking time to summarize what you're learning... really good info. Thanks, Rose!

Rose Welty said...

You're welcome Teresa!