Friday, September 20, 2013

Art and Memory Training

In speaking with Michael Klein recently on the importance of memory drawing he described that his course is essentially trying to get people away from strictly copying the model. As shocking to the ears of the classical art student as this may sound, it's also exactly what we need. Michael went on to say that students run the risk of becoming too dependent upon the live model and simply don't take the time to figure out structure or anatomy. 

"With this type of drawing we are confronted with the difficult task of remembering the essence of the pose and then relying on our memory and understanding to reconstruct the figure.  I'm just as concerned with the block-in, form, structure and anatomy as I am memorization.  I believe all these elements combined and put into practice, is what makes it a useful exercise for the student," explained Michael.

Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci where memory drawing is used.
"Historically, memory drawing and painting was used to capture the essence of the pose or train your visual memory to become more astute.  We think of Renaissance drawings of horses in motion or men in action.  Anytime you see drawings of animals you can assume there was some sort of memory work incorporated in their process."

Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci
"As we get closer to the 19th century, you see artists like Whistler and Inness working entirely from memory to capture only the essence of the subject.  They felt that if the landscape was not edited by the artist it was a form of meaningless copying as opposed to picture-making.  Although I don't agree with this theory altogether,  it nonetheless shows another example of how memory was used in art history."

 Inness, Evening Landscape, 1863

Michael Klein's sketchbook
Understanding anatomy is emphasized in class.
On Monday evenings, students have the opportunity to learn memory drawing with Michael Klein at GCA.  Poses go in cycles of 5 minutes observation only and then 20 minutes drawing from memory. Students can work from the model during the last two poses. The class is 3 hours long. For advanced students interested in trying out the class for one night, join us on Mondays at 6:30 p.m from now through the end of October. (There is no class on Columbus Day,  October 14th) Students may either paint or draw. Drop-in classes costs $40 each, on a first come/space available basis. You can pay online using paypal in advance to guarantee your spot or with exact change or a credit card just before the class begins. Class starts promptly, so arrive early. View the full schedule here and sign up here.  

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