View Full Version : Chp3: The Practice And Science of Drawing

10-31-2006, 04:05 PM
I guess I should give some insight as to why I'm interested so far in this book.
It's from my trying to learn how to make a really good picture. No, it's not really so I have others justify my work, but so I can justify it. And while it's good to have others say nice things, that's not what I'm looking for, I am looking to know how to say what it is I want to say in creating my art.

Speed leaves off here at the End of Chp 2:

Yet however much it may be advisable to let yourself go in artistic work, during your academic training let your aim be a searching accuracy.

Ok I understand this to be, learn how to see.

Chapter three starts with him explaining "learning early to associate the "feel of an object" with its appearance."

We must know whether the ground is hard enough for us to walk on, or whether there is a hole in front of us; and masses of colour rays striking the retina, which is what vision amounts to, will not of themselves tell us

Sight is therefore not a matter of the eye alone

...take two painters both equally gifted in the power of expressing their visual perceptions, and put them before the scene to paint it. And assuming one to be a commonplace man and the other a great artist, what a difference will there be in their work. The commonplace painter will paint a commonplace picture, while the form and colour will be the means of stirring deep associations and feelings in the mind of the other, and will move him to paint the scene so that the same splendour of associations may be conveyed to the beholder.

I feel convinced that with that the great majority of people vision is seldom if ever consulted for itself, but only to minister to some other sense.

This accounts in some way for the number of good paintings that are incomprehensible to the majority of people. It is only those pictures that pursue the visual aspect of objects to a sufficient completion to contain the suggestion of these other associations, that they understand at all. Other pictures, they say, are not finished enough. And it is so seldom that a picture can have this petty realisation and at the same time be an expression of those larger emotional qualities that constitute good painting.
But to those painters who do not attempt "painted poetry," but seek in painting a poetry of its own, a visual poetry, this excessive finish (as it is called) is irksome, as it mars the expression of those qualities in vision they wish to express. Finish in art has no connection with the amount of detail in a picture, but has reference only to the completeness with which the emotional idea the painter set out to express has been realised.

two aspects from which the objective world can be apprehended
method Line Drawing and the second Mass Drawing

Sorry to qoute so much, but these are the main points I've gotten out of this chapter.

Historical perspective has always been a weakness for me. I try. I've had to study more than this book to get a handle on what he's driving at.
But like I first wrote, it's more than just trying to understand him, but it's about trying to understand him to help me to say what I want when I paint.

Chapter 4 is on Line Drawing.

11-01-2006, 09:54 AM
Ok.. I am caught up on reading these chapters now.

This chapter reminds me of the way Nicolaides speaks of countour in "The Natural Way to Draw". (I am reading both books currently) I find it fascinating the way the mind will combine senses to create perception. It is important to seperate the senses and understand how you use them. Nicolaides has you draw several hours just imagining that your pencil is touching and object and "tracing" the edges you see. For me, this is a valuable lesson in sight as its own individual sense. Copying something upside down has also helped me train my brain. We spend our lives looking, but seeing is a "whole 'nother story".

I like this book. I am really glad you got this started. Thank you Nickel :)

11-01-2006, 03:05 PM
Shehaub, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have this book by Nicolaides too so I appreciate what you are saying. I went to the garden center today. Sitting outside on a chair, taking in the sunshine and last warm days of this year I tried to think about what we have read so far and discussed. How to make a flower seem soft to the touch when you paint it seemed really hard for me today to figure out. Managed to sketch a few pumpkins, just used a line drawing and no shade/tone on the back of my cash receipt. Gosh, I do manage to sketch on whatever I have. Sketched a tin man too. All the time thinking how am I going to use these sketches and how would an OLD Master use them too. Getting the crazy eye from the cashier, I hesitated to bend over and sketch upside down. :) but will try to do some sketching that way this week. Just because I do like to raise eyebrows. I am liking this book lots.

Sam Cree
11-01-2006, 08:59 PM
two aspects from which the objective world can be apprehended
method Line Drawing and the second Mass Drawing

Sorry to qoute so much, but these are the main points I've gotten out of this chapter.

Chapter 4 is on Line Drawing.

Nickel, IIRC, it's the chapter on mass drawing which recommends that the student do a monochromatic painting exercise of a cast of grapes or whatever...first drawing the thing in charcoal and fixing, then smearing over it a layer of middle tone, then painting in the lights, and following with the darks. I think Speed shows a series of such paintings, but of a model?

I went ahead and did the exercise some months ago...didn't have a cast so I used a photo of one of daughter's friends which had a strong differential between lights and darks, as classicists and academics so enjoy. Anyhow, I learned a lot from it, and the subject himself loved the resulting painting, which he now has...I'll try and get an image of it, if that would be of interest at all.

Precious Mazie
11-02-2006, 12:55 AM
"I feel convinced that with that the great majority of people vision is seldom if ever consulted for itself, but only to minister to some other sense."

I am going to take this line and tomorrow I am going to spend the day using sight for its self. I did some thing like this once with touch. I blindfolded my self and spent two hours in a hotel room where all I did was explore the room with my hands. (I was traveling with my husband and had no car. He had to go to a factory for a service call and I was alone for the day.) Anyway feeling the sand painted wall and the sisal rug, the cotton sheets and the cold ceramic sink. I sent two hours going around the room almost inch by inch. When I was done my hands were tingling. They tingle now just recalling the experience. It will be harder to disconnect my eyes from my brain than it was to disconnect my hands from my eyes. But I will try! I feel that HS is saying that it’s important to really use sight. I know as an artist that the sight of something often inspires me to draw or paint. Like today the fall leaves in the rain struck me with their vivid wet colors. So much so that I almost missed a turn in the road because I was looking at the stands of trees along side it. That vision came unexpected, around a corner but tomorrow with intention to "see" and not going anywhere but staying right here in the very familiar environment of home. I'll let you know the results.

I've read "The Natural Way to Draw" too. Loved the little statue of the girl by the blind artist. Wish I could dedicate as much time as he recomemds for his drawing sessions. Every now and then I get out his book and do some of the exercises.

I noticed that I am about two years behind the start of this thread. Is there a chapter 4 thread?

Good night all!

11-02-2006, 10:55 AM
Link to chapter 4


Hi Sam, good to have you here! It'd be nice to have what ever you can share with us. I plan to work on cast drawings. Don't have cast, but plan to spray paint some objects with white paint, maybe an off-white paint and do the exercises. I think this will suffice for study.

Plan to post them too, so we get to use an eraser too! right?

Hi Precious Mazie, I've read all your post, it's nice to have you and your thoughts here. What an interesting experiment you are doing with seeing today.

Ok, not picking on you or anything but these threads just started.
They are not a few years old, so your right here in with us at
the start of our little talks. :):wave:

11-03-2006, 12:24 PM
I really enjoyed this chapter. I am learning alot.

I bet HS was a good teacher. I like the way the book "unfolds" deepening and unifying the threads of why and how we draw. It really makes me want to do my best and give my all.........

Yes, Sam I would like to see the exercise you did ,:)

11-03-2006, 12:31 PM
One more thing I got from this chapter on vision I realize how weak my vision really is , how weak the average person's vision is......how feel has dominated.......

11-03-2006, 08:21 PM
Excluding the blind and the seriously impaired, no one needs to learn how to see. We know how already. It then becomes a matter of interpreting what we see. I have no problem seeing any face. When I look into a mirror and attempt to draw my reflection, seeing my face profits me nothing. I have to interpret the light and shadows into shapes and lines that makes my ugly mug. Then it is like seeing the homely mess for the first time ever.

That is learning to see, techinically, I suppose, but "learning to see" carries with it the idea of a great mystery that has to be unlocked, like trying to "see" the sense of the Theory of Relativity or something. In art, start interpreting what you see into parts that rely on each other to make up a whole. From there on it's a cake walk.

Precious Mazie
11-05-2006, 10:52 PM
Hi, Well ...after having my computer crash and lots of company I didn't get to do the "seeing experiment" like I wanted to which had to do with trying to use my eyes as a main sense and not a supporting one which is what I got out of this chapter. I wanted to examine things in my immediate environment, things I see everyday and see if I could really discover them not just overlook them because of familiarity. But two of the things I did get to were one... really looking at a picture on my wall. I loved this picture when I purchased it and it has been on my wall for almost 10 years now. Even though it is hanging to the right of my front door. I don't think I have really looked at it for years. Oh I know its there and I see it many times a day. But I spent half an hour this weekend (while my computer was down) and I really looked at the colors and brush strokes. And I still love it! The second one ... my 3 year old granddaughter who I don't often get to see, visited from WI this weekend. After she fell asleep I watched for about an hour. I watched her breath, move her arms, roll over, even cry. I must say it was the most enjoyable hour I've spent in a very long time. I am going to try to set some time a side each day to "just see."
(As for the comment I made about this thread being a few years old.. I was looking at someone’s join date...See I told you I needed to practice "seeing":o )

11-06-2006, 10:20 AM
Good for you Mazie..........I will try and do that too.....

11-10-2006, 04:43 PM
Oh goodness, I’m trying to catch up here. Too many things have been going on!

Anyway, here’s my thoughts about the chapter. I will be reading your thoughts in a second.:

The description of how the eye works was excellent! Speed really did a great job!

The drawings in this chapter are gorgeous. Both the “Figure of Apollo” and the half-length nude of a young woman are really nice.

We do need to train our eyes in a different way, for us to become good artists. In normal day to day life, our seeing is much more general and inexact. We can often learn to be more precise, but it helps to know that we are having to learn.

Speed’s description of the Pre-Raphaelites was interesting. He felt that they were able to work in a finished detailed way that also had emotional impact. (That is what I think that he was trying to say.)

The idea of having drawing be more a part of standard education because it teaches people to see was an idea that I really loved! I’ve often felt this way.

His description of Line Drawing vs. Mass Drawing was such an important point. That poor line drawing cause drawings to lacked form and that poor mass drawing caused poor painting of form.

When I finish reading what you have posted, I will post again.

Barb Solomon:cat:

11-10-2006, 04:59 PM
I’ve read Natural Way to Draw!

What Speed calls “Outline” drawing is pretty close to Nicolaides’ “Contour Drawing”.

Some people don’t distinguish between the two at all. Some say that “contour drawing” suggests the depth of the curves in three dimensions, that it shows the outline around the object. They feel that outline is more simple and geometric.

Nickel - It must have been so much fun drawing pumpkins! :angel: :angel:

Sam - That’s a great idea. I would love hearing more about your project. Could you show us pictures?:thumbsup: :thumbsup:

Maizie - The Blindfold sounded like a fun experiment! Oh darn! It’s too bad that you didn’t get a chance to try it. (Did you get a “round to it” eventually?) :)

azulparsnip - This book does “unfold” in a nice way. I’m wondering what “surprise” will be next.:thumbsup:

Barb Solomon:cat:

Precious Mazie
11-10-2006, 06:31 PM
Hi Barb,

I did do the experiment with the blind fold and my hands still tingle every time I even think about it. The vision experiment was a little harder to do. Every time I set time aside something seems to happen. It is really hard to divorce sight from your other senses, its the direct direct path to the brain and the brain seems to have its own agenda! I did go on line and down loaded some really great pictures by Franz Hals. Some of the pictures where closeups of the detail. I spent a long time just looking at the detail he put into his portraits. http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/detail/Detail_hals_frans.html
is one of the sites I was on.

I am really enjoying this book and reading what everyone thinks about it too.

11-10-2006, 10:19 PM
Maizie - That makes a lot of sense. We really do use our senses together when we go about day to day life! Thanks so much for describing your experiment!

Franz Hal’s work is so incredible! I tried copying “The Merry Drinker” a couple of years ago. Lots of details!

Barb Solomon:cat: