Seriously, All You Need Is Average Eye-Hand Coordination

23 Oct 2012

Hello there, I'll be doing some blogging for Artist Daily about human figure drawing. The plan is to do half of the blogging as written text and half as video episodes where it would be easier to demonstrate the concepts I would like to talk about. But perhaps it is a good idea to introduce myself first. I am a self taught sculptor with a passion for drawing figures. A passion and, of course, a need as I work as a sculptor and I teach classes in person and via the web on Figure Drawing Online and my drawing lectures are here if you want to take a look.

Just to demonstrate the statement that everyone can learn to draw. Here, and below, are two comparison drawings of my students from the last term. The progress they made in just nine three-hour sessions is noteworthy.
Just to demonstrate the statement that everyone can learn to draw. Here, and below, are two
comparison drawings of my students from the last term. The progress they made in just nine
three-hour sessions is noteworthy.

Now, that all that is out of the way, I would like to say that everyone with average eye-hand coordination can learn to draw the human figure. I mean everyone. And I'm not talking about stick figures. I'm talking about believable drawings of the human form. At the time when I was trying to get the hang of it, I felt like I was being held back because I didn't have money to take a class and get taught figure drawing in the traditional way. I felt like I was wasting time reinventing the wheel.

Looking back, perhaps that was my luck. I did have to reinvent the wheel and in the process I not only learned what one needs to do in order to get a result, but also why. And so it all followed: human anatomy, perspective drawing, other elements of drawing, and endless studies of the Old Masters to try to see what is it they were after. One of the fundamental concepts I learned in my own studies of drawing is the fact that while everyone can learn to do a realistic believable figure drawing, not everyone who can do that is an artist. On the other hand, no artist can do his job unless he or she devotes attention and time to learning how to draw what he or she wants to draw.

Turning technical skill into artistry is a matter of making a visual statement with your drawing. This student is growing into their "artistry" as they learn foundational drawing skills.
Turning technical skill into artistry is a matter of making a visual statement with your drawing.
This student is growing into their "artistry" as they learn foundational drawing skills.

I like to use a trade comparison. After all, up to the mid-Renaissance there was no such thing as "an artist." The sculptors and the painters were tradespeople. To learn figure drawing was thought of in the same way as learning to make shoes. One follows a set of rules and one gets results. Of course, the more shoes one makes the better one gets at it. And the same goes for figure drawing.

Now the difference between a draftsperson and an artist is the same as between a standard shopping centre shoe and a designer piece. The draftsperson's drawing is just fine, has the right proportions and lighting and the anatomy is where it needs to be and so on. Just as it is with the standard shoe. Where the designer piece (and the drawing of an artist) stands out is by making a statement. It's not only the choice of materials, the craftsmanship, the relationship, and proportion of the parts. It is the statement it makes that turns it into something more than the sum of it parts.

--Robert


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Comments

on 11 Dec 2012 1:04 PM

I suggested in my previous blog that the difference between an excellent draftsperson versed in anatomy