Trying to See

We need to have a deep willingness to do “bad” or “ugly” art when trying to see rather than copy.

Nicolaides warned in his book The Natural way to Draw that many of the drawings I will be making will go straight into the trash. This is what is happening with all my gestures, but I didn’t expect that my other drawings would so profoundly effected as well.

I’m drawing differently than I ever have my whole life. Due to the influence of Ncolaides’s course and Robert Henri’s insightful words. Here is how the latter gives his account on the idea of seeing.

It is harder to see than it is to express.

The whole value of art rests in the artist’s ability to see well into what is before him. This model is wonderful in as many ways as there are pairs of eyes to see her. Each view of her is an original view and there is a response in her awaiting each view. If the eyes of a Rembrandt are upon her she will rise in respond and Rembrandt will draw what he sees, and it will be beautiful. Rembrandt was a man of great understanding. He had the rare power of seeing deep into the significance of things.

The model will serve equally for a Rembrandt drawing or for anybody’s magazine cover. A genius is one who can see. The other can often “draw” remarkably well. Their kind of drawing, however, is not very difficult. The can change about. They can make their sight fit the easiest way for their drawing. As their seeing is not particular and it does not matter. With the seer it is different. Nothing will do but the most precise statement. He must not only bend technique to his will, but he must invent technique that will especially fit his need. He is not one who floats affably in his culture. He is the blazer of the road for what he has to bring. Those who get their technique first, expecting sight to come to them later, get a technique of a very ready-made order.

Robert Henri

This is what as artists we should always strive for. Not just the acquiring of a technique. Having a bank of knowledge for how we always draw a certain object but seeing each object fresh and new. Trying to see the idiosyncratic emotion that brought you to your subject in the first place.

I feel that I have enough command over my tools now to travel this new journey. At any point I can work hard and make a great copy of a photo or a model. But I want more.

Today’s Drawings

Today’s drawings are my frustrated testament to trying to see and my eventual surrender and finally my willingness to fail.

Learning to see rather than copying

This drawing is looking terrible at the moment. But this is fine. I’m searching inside for a voice.

Even my gestures today were a point of discomfort because I was really trying hard to forget each part and piece of the model and trying to see the whole. The essence of the model and the post. An emotion to communicate in broad terms.

The sooner you make your first five thousand mistakes, the sooner you will be able to correct them.

Kimon Nicolaides

What went well?

Getting out of my comfort zone.

What didn’t go so well?

Learning to see inwardly and communicate that is super difficult but I think even more rewarding with time.

What did I learn and/or how can I do better?

I need to take some tips from Peak by Anders Ericsson and clearly identify what I’m going to focus on for each exercise and put as much concentration on that aspect for the whole session.

Session Details