Sunday, May 5, 2013

Training your eye



Recent studies of rapid eye movements have come to the conclusion that artists actually see differently than non-artists. According to this study, the non-artists tend to concentrate on focal points of a scene while the artists tend to look everywhere, and have more of an “overall” approach to seeing.

Quick gesture drawing is a way of training the eye to see in this “overall” manner. As an art student this was never adequately explained to me. Like a musician who must train his ear before making music an artist needs to train his eyes before he can make art.

A 1-2 minute figurative gesture drawing forces the student to look at everything at once to capture the gesture of the pose in the limited time available. He has no time to focus on a particular area. This is a painful mind altering exercise that over time changes the way one perceives the world.

The materials and speed of this activity are chosen to least inhibit the students from falling back into their focal pointing ways.  Because of this, the drawings are done on large smooth newsprint paper, using soft charcoal pencils or conte crayons at  arm’s length to the paper. This keeps them loose with their arms moving and eyes active with no chance of falling back into the tight constricted world of the Focal pointers.

From a practical standpoint the gestural drawing has been utilized by illustrators and artists for years "in the field" to capture enough information to complete the composition back in their studios.

Two examples of quick gesture drawings done for visual information are shown below. The first is a simple ink study done by Rembrandt. The second is by Alfred Waud, an American Civil War correspondent.

A good artist can take his simple gesture drawing and work it into a complete finished drawing. Likewise a “worthy” artist can take another “worthy” artist’s gesture drawing and work it into a finished drawing as well.

Borrowed from: British museum                                                
Borrowed from: Library of Congress

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