Letter From Draw123
artistic discipline requires two kinds of mastery: Creative and
Technical. The Creative part is exploring ideas and discovering
connections that lead to a fresh view of the world. The Technical
part is learning to control an instrument, hit the right notes or
make the "correct" lines on paper -- in short, to realize the artist's
In the past half-century, many art teachers have neglected and even
ridiculed technical training, calling it too "left-brained" and
formulaic. This has damaged the development of many young artists.
We do not teach beginning musicians to improvise jazz without first
teaching scales, fingering and musical form; yet life drawing students
are told to "express themselves" without the tools of classic draftsmanship.
An artist who has mastered draftsmanship can draw with impulse and
inspiration, much as a jazz pianist who has mastered the scales
can "let feeling take over" and not be frustrated by lack of skill.
It is true that over-emphasis on technique can bog down artistic
expression, but that is the lesser problem for most students. Most
students want to invent figures and draw them with authority, but
don't know how. Most students want to master anatomy and perspective
but find them overwhelming. Properly taught, technical skill is
not a hindrance; it enables an artist to express an original vision
Classic illusionary drawing is a living tradition with a remarkable
variety of style. It has a six-hundred year history of problem solving.
As my mentor and colleague Don Lagerberg said: "It's unlikely that
you're going to invent any drawing problem that the great masters
didn't face." Every great master begins as a student, building on
the creative and technical skills of the past. My goal as a teacher
is to make these skills as simple and accessible as possible.
I love to draw. If you have not discovered the love of drawing,
it may be that you are frustrated. I hope that I can guide you enjoyably
and efficiently to the confidence that comes from skill, and prompt
you to make the best pictures your talent can offer. -Marshall Vandruff
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