This drawing study will be helpful if you see a major drawing challenge standing in your way (to overstate the matter, you just cannot believe that you can get the drawing aspect of your study right).
This practice is adjusted from Betty Edwards’ “Drawing on the right side of the brain”, and is intended to help you feel how to switch from our day-to-day mechanism of vision (which insists on identifying “objects” and using all the prior knowledge base instead of seeing what’s actually in front of you) to “artist’s vision”. The basic idea here is that we really see more accurately when we cannot immediately identify what we see, put a name on it. By the way, experienced artists use this “life hack” too — when they turn their own paintings upside down to look for mistakes in drawing.
For this exercise, please print out a small black-and-white version of the painting you are studying; the print should fit on one page of your sketchbook. If you are right-handed, attach it upside down to the left page (so you can draw on the right page); if you are left-handed, the opposite arrangement is likely to be more convenient. On the other page, draw a rectangular area of exactly the same size; it will be useful to darken the margins in some way, so that your eyes aren’t confused by the edges of the page.
Now draw a copy of the print, looking at one section of it at a time. If it turns out to be too easy for you to identify the shapes you are drawing, take a blank sheet of paper and cover the lower part of the print (pulling it down as needed to show more of the original as you draw). Ideally, you will see only lines and unidentifiable shapes in different shades of grey. Copy the lines and the clearest, strongest edges between these shapes. Pay attention to the angles and the relative length of lines and edges. All in all, it should look and feel like a kind of geometric puzzle. Do it in one sitting, and don’t turn the sketchbook the other side up before you are finished.
The point of this exercise is to help you to notice how it feels when your brain switches from the everyday modus operandi to the more raw, immediate, artistic one (the association of these modes with the sides of the brain seems to be more controversial now, but their existence is beyond any doubt).
This post is a part of online program, “The Making of a Painting Masterpiece”.