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When you go to a museum or an art gallery it is very easy to make the assumption that the artist conjured the painting up from their memory or drew it by looking at an object. (This is the general assumption of how artists draw.)
Artist Rarely Draw from Memory
This could be true but it might not be. There are no rules in art. Tracing or copying your own photograph is not a bad thing. Once you learn to draw you have nothing to prove to anyone and getting an image onto paper or canvas the fastest way and as perfectly as possible is the objective. As long as, you do not use another person’s image without their permission and sell it as yours. Using other people’s images to practice is fine and has been used for 100’s of years as a way to improve.
How Artists Draw Perfectly?
It is not only a learned skill to draw something and make it look realistic, it takes time. In order to not starve as an artist, they need to produce pieces to sell. Time is money. Centuries in the past they were using techniques to recreate images on the canvas or paper to save time. What they did with those images is incredible regarding their skill as a painter. The “masters” of previous centuries really did paint masterpieces. ( In my humble opinion).
If the finished work is a painting then the drawing beneath is just a map of where to apply the paint. Spending 5 hours trying to get everything in the right place could dampen the enthusiasm and creativity of the artist not to mention valuable time wasted.
If you want to paint a picture you do not have to spend hours getting the image drawn if you do not want to. I meet many students that have no interest in learning how to draw, they just want to paint. They get immense joy from painting but, they just want to dabble and have fun. They have no intention of doing anything more at that moment in time. Art should be fun. As a teacher, I want to inspire and encourage my students. I want them to finish my class and then ask me what paints and brushes to buy.
Do I Have to Learn to Draw? I just Want to Paint!
If you do not want to learn to draw and you just want to paint then go ahead. You make the rules with your artwork. There are many tools and methods that allow you to do this. However, saying that, there are benefits to learning to draw. Drawing is the foundation of art. Famous artists like Picasso were classically trained, that foundation allowed him to be very creative.
Music and Art, Perfect Together
I always compare art to the way music is taught. If you learn the piano or guitar using the classical technique you know which notes sound beautiful together, how what a scale is, and how to play one and all the other very technical information that goes along with learning an instrument.
There are other ways to learn an instrument. For people that are more interested in having fun and singing along to a song that they can play there is the chord method. It is faster and easier and requires much less practice to achieve a song. When people can play a song in a few hours they want to learn more and play more songs.
Art Should be Fun!
Most people just want to paint a picture. I noticed that when I taught older students how to paint a picture in a two hour class they got really excited. My thought was why not do this when teaching children. Why does learning to draw and the repetition needed have to be boring? Also, why is perspective taught by making children sit with a ruler drawing every window on a tall office building? Why not draw some people on a beach with some near and some far away? Learning to draw is foundational, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly complicated.
From years of learning and teaching, a fun incremental curriculum was born. You can draw from memory but, you do not have to. After all, that’s how artists draw!