#85 - Wax On, Wax Off For Artists

My most popular posts on Pinterest are related to 3d form studies, and it is the most significant source of newsletter subscribers at the moment.

Google Search Console tells me that the most popular pages on my website are a rotatable 3d cube model, a skull model, and a page where you can easily create things on perspective grids.

I understand: you want to reduce learning to draw to smaller chunks you can focus on, the fundamentals. Form studies. Anatomy: learning the proportions of the head and the human body.

But I believe it is the wrong thing to focus on.

Drawing from memory has been my best exercise; it replaces form studies because it trains you to “feel” when a line is off or does not match the underlying form. It is a far more valuable skill as it frees you from constructing.

Here is one drawing I made from memory this week:

 
Artists, no ai!
 
It is based on an illustration by T.S. Sullivant, which I believe is in the public domain.

I didn’t draw this to memorize this specific thing. Instead, doing this exercise makes me better at visualizing the things I want to draw and using what I see in my mind’s eye as a drawing reference. It also makes me better at feeling when things are off.

I have drawn this a dozen or so times. I am learning to figure out what makes the drawing work, what aspect I need to draw accurately, and which parts I can wing a bit. In this case, the egg shape of the body must bend downward. I had to work on balancing the box on the bee so it didn’t topple off. Things I didn’t need to be as accurate about are the feet of the bee and the number of lines on the bee’s body.

Notice how I also practiced 3d form when drawing the bee’s body and the box.

This is way more fun than just practicing form, and it is rewarding when you end up with a nice drawing, especially when you have to make a dozen attempts to figure out what makes it work. And as a bonus, you learn all the fundamentals along the way.

This is the “wax on, wax off” for artists. If you have seen “Karate Kid,” you will understand the reference.

 
 
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