View Full Version : Question About Drawing from Mind Contra Lifedrawing

02 February 2007, 12:11 AM
I've always had as a goal to be able to draw whatever I want to from mind. Being able to just sit down with your eyes on the paper and draw whatever you want to, just from imagination. No references.

So now I've practiced anatomy for some time. I still draw a lot from imagination, but most of the time goes away to doing studies with reference. And well, this is all fine. What I'm afraid of though, is that, maybe my drawings from mind won't improve at all. The thing that kinda sparked this thought, was that I saw some guy who drew this really really good study from reference, but he had this other picture, from mind, which was a lot less of a pleasing product.

So what I wonder is basically:
Should I continue primarily with life-drawing, and then the drawing from imagination will come of itself after enough practice? Or should I do something else to increase my, um, rememberance of the figure? What's your experience on this subject? Are there a lot of artists out there who do good studies, but fall out completely if they're asked to draw something without looking at anything?

02 February 2007, 02:24 AM

Drawing and learning how to draw is a lifelong process, and at no point do you stop and say, "I am proficient enough to cease to look at references!" It just doesn't happen that way. :) People seem to have the misconception that drawing without any references is the holy grail of drawing. I fail to understand why this is since the great art of history has been created from reference - drawings from models, statues, previous master works, anatomical reference etc. - I rather doubt that Michelangelo created the David without first doing a hell of a lot of studies. ;)

I think a good drawing regimen is to sort of mix things up - do some drawings from reference, and some without. Each will contribute to the other - but I guarantee that if some point you decide to rely strictly on imagination, never looking at reference or drawing from reference again, your imaginational drawings will suffer. I don't think there are too many representational artists out there who ever completely abandon reference in favor of drawing / painting 100% from imagination.

The thing is that people erroneously think that if they use reference, they are somehow not 'real' artists. I frankly don't understand how this line of thinking cropped up. If you look at Renaissance art up through Modern Art, and if you look at 3D graphics, the practice of using reference is obviously present. I don't see why it should suddenly disappear because an art school phrase has been taken out of context and given more weight than it should have on forums, etc. :)

02 February 2007, 01:45 PM
Thanks a lot, becca! Cleared up things a lot. :)

02 February 2007, 02:42 PM
You're welcome! :)

02 February 2007, 03:10 PM
Funny i asked the same question some time ago :)

Rebecca is totally right you know. Of course using reference is Ok as long as you learn from it. Don't just copy the photo. try to understand the form and volume of the shape. I'm not drawing as much as i would like to but i try to understand the form and how it works and it helped. last weekend i drew a girl all the way from my mind. and she actually looked alright. this makes you so much more enthusiastic you know. Try drawing from reference for like an hour and then switch over to your imagination. I get you'll see progress as well.

02 February 2007, 09:19 AM
I don't know if this is even relevant to you or anyone, but I must say that with drawing from life rather than photography (not to mention without ref in the first place...:D ) there's something else that occured to me which is not result-oriented but rather somehing that has to do with the process itself.

It's an amazing experience. Just to observe a human body with the goal to draw it and realize that you really don't have the slightest clue how someone really looks like, the enourmous difference a slight tilt of the arm or change of the point of view makes as far as the "horizon line" of the 3dimensional form is concerned.

What I am trying to say is that using photo reference helped my drawing skills a lot. But drawing from life even adds a whole new perception experience which was just highly enjoyable... hmmm, hope that made sense to anyone except me...:scream:

02 February 2007, 12:29 PM
i asked my girlfriend to pose for me a couple of times and indeed that is a totally different experiance than drawing from photo reference. unfortunately there are no drawing groups in the city i live in and my girlfriend does not always have time to pose for me. i definitely have to agree with you MU.

02 February 2007, 07:06 PM
Thanks a lot for comments, guys. :thumbsup:

Yeah, Mu, unbelievable enough, I kinda got that. (I think) :)

But yeah, I haven't really tried drawing from life much. People speak really positively of it, so I'm absolutely going to try it, once I get a bit more confident.
But for now, it's Poser 7 for me. :D

Oh and, yeah, everything is relevant. :)
I get use for every single piece of wisdom .. The road is a lot easier to walk, when accompanied by people who've walked it before! :D

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