Friday, September 5

Learning to Draw Naturally

Today’s Image
Beach Lighthouse
Oil Pastel on Paper
24 x 30 in/61 x 76 cm
Copyright 2008

Fresh new art blog with artist tips on acrylic, pastel and oil painting, supplies, book reviews, occasional news & much more

In the Studio
I completed my second lighthouse painting done in oil pastel, and am pleased with the results. I used lots of different colors not only on the flowering tropical plants but also on the grasses to provide depth and reality. You may not notice, but there are at least four blues used on the lighthouse, too. As you may remember from earlier blogs, I’ve recently become a fan of oil pastel. It gives you the quality and control of soft pastels but with the ability to paint with a watercolor effect. I predict it will become more popular than ever as people learn more about its capabilities. It’s Today’s Image.

In the Art Library

After a week off due to last Friday being the last day of August when I review the month’s blogs, In the Art Library returns.

I’m reviewing The Natural Way to Draw, A Working Plan for Art Study by Kimon Nicolaides. I’m pretty sure this is a Classic. It was published in 1941 not too long after Nicolaides’ death, unfortunately, according to the Publisher’s Note.

I know it was still recently being recommended at a least one university for those studying art and design. I suspect it may be recommended at others as well. I also suspect it was used as a textbook for many art classes in its time.

My most favorite thing is in the Introduction when he says, “Art should be concerned more with life than art.” Wow. I will try to remember that every time I draw or paint anything.

One thing that makes this book a classic, in my opinion, is the rigor that Nicolaides almost insists upon regarding the study of art. The book is divided into 25 sections. They’re called sections and not chapters, which indicates this is not for casual reading. There is a How to Use This Book section at the beginning, and it says the book is arranged not by subject matter but by schedules for work. And work you will if you follow this. Each section has subject matter followed by a schedule “representing 15 hours of actual drawing.” For example, it say, “Begin your first day’s work by reading the first section until you come to the direction that you are to draw for three hours according to Schedule 1A. THEN STOP AND DRAW.” (The all caps are his not mine.) As I said, it’s rigorous.

He talks about the importance of observation and uses terms that I’m not sure are used as much today, such as ‘contour’ to teach about drawing as you view the subject. He also uses ‘gesture’ as describing the way to capture potential movement--“In gesture drawing you feel the movement of the whole.”

He moves from pencil to charcoal to watercolor. He covers drawing parts of the body, weight and modeling, and proportions as well as anatomy. Before he covers light and shade, he includes a couple of sections called ’Drapery’ and ‘The Figure with Drapery’ where he discusses drawing cloth, folds in cloth, shadows and contours in cloth to be used in drawing clothed (and draped) figures. I don’t know if or how they teach that today.

To repeat, this is a Classic, with a capital C that every serious student should probably read. I doubt very much if I would have passed his course.


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