In my last post I referenced an article by Trey Ratcliff on the 10 Principles of Beautiful Photography. One of his 10 principles was to learn to draw. That really surprised me since I’ve never seen or heard a photographer suggest learning another medium. <Broad Generalization coming up> Photographers gripe about being accepted as artists, but then they never seem to include other visual mediums in their artistic processes. That is either because they are elitists, or they don’t have the skill to dabble outside of the photo world. That may seem to be a harsh statement, but in my case it is true. I’ve always felt that I took up photography because I didn’t think I could do any other type of art. I wasn’t ‘talented’ enough. The draw of photography is the entry cost is so low. Especially now. You spend some money, buy a camera, point, shoot and you’re creating passable images. Yes, there is a great deal to learn and practice to really become proficient. But that first image doesn’t really take much effort to look decent.
Where as drawing a picture and getting a nice result on the first attempt is challenging. It takes more more time, concentration and effort to come up with something decent. The materials are simple and abundant, but the effort is much greater than snapping a picture.
I’ve always wanted to be able to draw. My first real exposure was in college. Photography was taught in the Design Department at BYU. So we sat through a bunch of non-photographic classes, which I loved. One of them was Drawing. The most important thing I learned in that class is that I actually could draw, if I made some effort. But I didn’t keep it up after the class – one of the bad choices I’ve made in my life.
So as part of my creative resurrection I’m going to learn to draw. I finally found a couple of books that hit the mark. The first one is ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’ by Betty Edwards. It is a great approach to learning to draw, with practice exercises and lots of theories and quotes for those who want to pretend that they are learning by reading and never actually pick up a pencil. (That would be one of my challenges…)
At first I thought it was a book about being creative so I didn’t buy it. Then I read a review on it and gave it another shot. Great book.
The other book I found that I love is my anatomy book. I’ve been looking for a good one for years and finally found this one:
Starts at the bones, adds muscles, skin and lots of great stuff. They include proportional systems for Heads, 3 quarter and full figures. A wonderful book.
Now all I have to do is sit down and actually draw something.
A few weeks ago I drew almost every night for a whole week. Then I stopped. On Sunday I was talking to an artist friend/neighbor, Anne Sorensen. She’s does beautiful water colors. In the course of the conversation she made/encouraged me to commit to draw a half an hour a day. So that got me going again. Two days into it and I’ve got a perfect record. Thanks Anne.
So, I’m working through the exercises in ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’.
Now, I’m going to do something I haven’t been excited about. I’m going to post my attempts. The thought of doing this is hard and humiliating, but mostly from the simple fact that nobody reads this thing, I think I’ll give it a shot.
And maybe I’ll actually show some improvement.
First exercise – a self portrait.
Just to show that I’m not completely hopeless, the first image is the self portrait I did in college. The second is the one I did last night. Neither are amazing, but I think the second shows I haven’t lost everything I learned 30 odd years ago.
This is actually a copy of my Sr. picture from high school. My hair really wasn’t that long at BYU.
I promise this is the same person. Both even look like the subject, I’m sorry to say.
Tonight’s exercise was to draw my hand:
I’m glad to say my middle finger isn’t actually broken.
But just to finish this off on a positive note, this last picture is my final project from my college drawing class:
I’ve always been proud of this. Over the years it has stood as a reminder that I can actually draw, if I’d apply a bit of effort. Yes, I have a long way to go, but it is a possibility.
This is Mr. Durer’s version: