Muscles, fat and clothes

Chapter 21 of my BOOK “Drawing with Knowledge“, entitled “Deformationsmuscles, fat and clothes“, is not finished. Many of the large number of images required for illustrating the issues discussed in the text have not been made. Producing them will require several photo sessions with appropriate models. In the past, I have been putting off confronting the complications this will entail, until the book is accepted for publication. Now I have decided to make use of this website edition of the book, to present a preliminary version of the chapter in its current uncompleted form. I am doing so because, even in as it stands, the text is important as it goes beyond what you are likely to find in other texts on anatomy.

As its title indicates Chapter 21 discuses issues relating to “deformations” of appearances, in ways that are routinely omitted in other texts on anatomy. These occur for a number of reasons and the way they influence appearances can be due to a number of causes:

  • Differences due to the fact of individual variations in properties of muscles
  • Differences due to the fact of individual variations in characteristics of fat
  • Pressures on muscles and fat between different body parts
  • Pressures on muscles and fat between body parts and external objects
  • Effects of gravity on muscles and fat.

Chapter 21 also discusses issues arising when a model is wearing clothes. In particular,

  • Identifying regions both where clothes touch the body and where they follow its form closely
  • Establishing where clothes leave space between them and the body
  • Discovering how the characteristics of materials and the forces of gravity effect appearances.

Clicking on the link below will access chapter 21 in its current form:

 

CHAPTER 21 – DEFORMATIONS-MUSCLES, FAT AND CLOTHES

 

 


When I have a more comprehensive collection of relevant images, I will be inserting a number of them below on this web page. Meanwhile, I thought you might enjoy the three images I have chosen and the questions that go with them.

  • The first is a symphony of mark-making by Berthe Morisot
  • The second is by the same artist. It illustrates how knowledge of anatomy can underpin a masterly and sensitive depiction of human body parts.
  • The third shows one of my own paintings, in which my feelings for colour dynamics dominated, to the exclusion of any concern about anatomy. The question is asked whether this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Do we need knowledge of muscles or fat?

Here are two paintings by Berthe Morisot that answer this question differently: The first painting with a tentative “no“. The second of them with a resounding “yes“. It had to be, in view of the underlying knowledge of anatomy enshrined in the quality of observation evident in the depiction of the model’s arms. Quite up to the exemplary standard of Edgar Degas.

 

muscles
 Berthe Morisot : portrait of young girl

 

muscles
Berthe Morisot : Portrait of Margaret Carr

Can other priorities override need for accuracy?

In the painting below, done in 1965, in the class of Professor Bohusz-Szyszko, I was enjoying testing out my teacher’s assertion thatall the best paintings are based on colour. As is clearly evident, anatomy took a back seat. The question is “Did this have a good or bad effect on the result?” My answer is indicated by the outcome, which was sufficiently was positive to encourage me to continue with making paintings in the same spirit.

 

muscles
Ann seated. Colour-dynamics were the exclusive motivation in my head.

Three final questions

  • Looking back at the top of the two Berthe Morisot paintings, do you think her priority was accuracy or expressing her feelings through the extraordinary range of mark-making dynamics she achieved, stretching from extreme delicacy to panache?
  • Do you think that Professor Bohusz-Szyszko should have added “the feelings” to his claim that “all good painting is based on colour“? For myself, I might have found his dogmatic assertion easier to accept unreservedly, if it had been extended to be, “All good painting is based on both colour and feeling, as expressed through the dynamics of the combination of colour and mark-making“? Of course, the definition of “mark-making” would have to include the deliberate suppression of marks.
  • What do you think is left out of the above?

 

Some quotations emphasising the centrality of the feelings:

Jean-Baptiste Siméon Chardin: “Did you say that one paints with colours? Not at all, one merely uses colours. One paints with feeling”.

John Constable:  “Painting is just another word for feeling”.

Jean-Baptise Camille Corot (teacher of Berthe Morisot): Never lose the first impression that moved us“.

Claude Monet: “Impressionism is nothing but immediate sensation. All the great painters were more or less Impressionists”.

Paul Gauguin: “My simple object, which I take from daily life or nature, is merely a pretext. It helps me, by means of a definite arrangement of lines and colours, to create symphonies or harmonies with them”.

Paul Cézanne: “painting is classifying one’s sensations of colour.

Pierre Bonnard: “you can take any liberty with line, with form, with proportions, with colours, in order that the feeling is intelligible”.

Henri Matisse: “Colours and lines are forces and the secret of creation lies in the play and balance of these forces”.

 


List of chapters on drawing published so far

INTRODUCTORY TO ALL BOOKS

VOLUME ONE : “DRAWING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BRAIN”

BOOK 1 : “DRAWING WITH FEELING”

The chapters so far loaded:

BOOK 2 : “DRAWING WITH KNOWLEDGE”

The chapters so far loaded:

OTHER POSTS ON DRAWING:


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Head movement opportunities

How head movement can help accuracy in drawings from observation

All the books correctly say that, when using the perspective frame and other traditional devices for obtaining accuracy in drawings from observation, head movement must be avoided at all costs. Teachers also warn students, who are trying to obtain accuracy when drawing from observation, that any movements of the head can substantially change both internal and external relationships in the scene they are depicting. Although what they say is true, their warning glosses over the fact that such movements can be  a powerful tool for homing in on accuracy. The purpose of this Post is to provide  the link below to “Chapter 17 – Head movement“, which explains why. Below that link I have included a slightly edited version of the Introductory to that chapter.

CHAPTER 17 – HEAD MOVEMENT

Introductory

Having learnt to find the eye-line, we are ready to make further use of the analogy of the opening window. The purpose of the next two chapters is to become better acquainted with some of the many anomalies of visual perception that regularly plague attempts at accurate drawing from observation. In this way we will learn to become more sensitive to aspects of appearances that we might otherwise overlook. Three particularly pervasive sources of anomalies are:

  1. Turning the head (whether from side to side or up and down)
  2. The imposition of axes of symmetry by our visual systems.
  3.  The constancies of size and shape.

This chapter and the one that follows give examples of each of these, which will appear under three headings: “head movement”, “axes of symmetry” and “the constancies”. Although for explanatory purposes, it is convenient to treat them
separately, we find that any combination of the three can be affecting our percep
tion at the same time. We start with this chapter on  “head movement”

Images illustrating head movement

The three images below show three different views of long boundary the wall of the esplanade. They provide a bit of realism to line drawings found in Figures 1a, 1b, 1c & 1d  in the Chapter 17, to which this Post is inked.

 

Movement
Long wall to the right

 

Head Movement
Long wall to the left

 

Head movement
Long wall head on

 


Chapters so far published from

Book 1 and Book 2 of “Drawing on Both Sides of the Brain” (Volume 1 of the series of four volumes)

BOOK 1 : “DRAWING WITH FEELING”

Chapters so far loaded:

BOOK 2 : “DRAWING WITH KNOWLEDGE”

Chapters so far loaded:


 

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Axes of symmetry & receding surfaces

Axes of near-symmetry

I have to thank two short women and a tall man for revealing to me that “axes of near-symmetry” are intimately related to the phenomenon of “orientation constancy”. The tall man was looking over a low wall and he was depicting its top as sloping down from left to right. The short women drew it as horizontal. The fact that the man could see a particular field beyond it that the women were unable to see, meant that he was the only one of the three that was being influenced by what I later came to call the “bakery facade illusion”. The women were right that the top of the wall was horizontal. To find why the man was also right, click on the link below to Chapter 18 of my book “Drawing with Knowledge”. Its title is “Axes of symmetry, recession and the constancies”.

 

CHAPTER 18 : AXES OF SYMMETRY & RECEDING SURFACES

 


Some photos showing axes of near-symmetry and receding surfaces

 

axes of symmetry
The old bakery facade, before restoration. The axis of near-symmetry clearly slopes upwards, away from the viewer

 

axes of near-symmetry
The old bakery facade transformed into new homes. The wall top, the roof bottom and the axis of near-symmetry are very nearly parallel.

 

axes of near-symmetry
The “bakery facade illusion” in rue de a Porte Neuve. The axis of near-symmetry of the retaning wall to the left slopes up away from the viewer.

 

receding surfaces
Receding fields with vertical cypress tree as guide  to analysis

 

receding surfaces
Setting off into a receding landscape. The lowest part of the white house is not far off being the height of the walkers above  their heads

 


Click here for full contents list for both books on drawing

BOOK 1 : “DRAWING WITH FEELING”

Chapters so far loaded:

BOOK 2 : “DRAWING WITH KNOWLEDGE”

Chapters so far loaded:

 


 

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Eye-line problems

Finding the eye-line

Establishing an eye-line is the first step if you are going to use the the rules of linear perspective for constructing an image. The same is true, if you are using the same rules as an aid to drawing from observation. However,  whereas its use in construction is straightforward, its use in drawing  from observation is far from it. The purpose of this Post is to explain why. Below you will find a link to “Chapter 16 – Finding the eye-line“. I have also included a slightly edited version of the Introductory to that chapter.

CHAPTER 16 – FINDING THE EYE LINE

Introductory

After the session in the studio, we move out into the street. From the demonstrations using the opening window, we have learnt that any straight edge that lines up with the eye-line remains horizontal no matter at which angle it is relative to our line of vision. If we are to make use of this knowledge, we need to find the eye-line. As a general rule, students who come to my school assume that this is easy to do, but the evidence of the drawing they make suggests that they are likely to be deceiving themselves.

 

eye-line
Making it easy to see the slope of the esplanade wall

 

Eye-line
Asking for trouble: explanation why in the chapter

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Chapters so far published from

Book 1 and Book 2 of “Drawing on Both Sides of the Brain” (Volume 1 of the series of four volumes)

Contents list for both BOOKS

BOOK 1 : “DRAWING WITH FEELING”

Chapters so far loaded:

BOOK 2 : “DRAWING WITH KNOWLEDGE”

Chapters so far loaded:

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The eye in diagrams

The surprising eye

The eye is full of surprises. The biggest ones come from the structure of retina that is situated at the back of it. The purpose of this Post is to provide a link to images and explanatory captions that tell us more about this starting gate of visual processing. At first sight, much of what we find strikes us as bizarre. But, when we delve more deeply, we discover the considerable advantages of the way things actually are. It turns out that nothing would work nearly as well as it does, if things were arranged any differently. The images and their captions will go a long way towards explaining why. In the process, they will help readers to get a better understanding of how the eye/brain combination makes practical use of the information contained in the ever-changing patterns of light coming into the eye.

The link to the diagrams

Click on the link below to access the images and captions referred to. They are extracted from ‘The Glossary‘ to the four volumes I am in the process of publishing on this website.

 

GLOSSARY DIAGRAMS (1)-THE EYE

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What happens next

Upon leaving the retina, the neural signals travel in two directions. Some go up the optic nerve to the region of the neocortex known as ‘Visual Area 1′. Others take a completely different route that makes contact with the regions of the “Old Brain”. These play a central role in visual perception as we experience it. For example, they play their part in eye movements, spatial awareness, affective responses, multimodal processing, whole-field relations and much besides. Images and captions relating to both these routes will be posted later on this website, in a separate entry, entitled, “Visual Regions in the Brain”.

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Images of blood vessels, neurons and and neural processes in the eye.

The human retina contains a very large number of neurons (cells) and a very much lager number of neural of processes providing links between them. It also features a dense network of blood vessels that supply blood to them. Together these make a significant barrier to the passage of any light that strikes them. Until I learnt better, this light-blocking function did not seem to be of much of interest.

What changed my mind was the discovery that the light-sensitive cone and rod receptors, that transform light-energy into neural signals, do not face towards the incoming light, but away from it. Consequently, the light coming into the eyes has to penetrate this light-impeding layer of neurons, neural processes and blood vessels, before it reaches the receptors. To add to my surprise, it turned out that the light-receiving end of the receptors is buried in a layer of dark matter. It was some time before I realised how these seemingly bizarre arrangements make possible visual perception as we know it.

The barrier confronting the light that enters the eye

It turns out that the barrier of neurons, neural processes and blood vessels compensates for the fact that the rod receptors are very much more sensitive to light than the cone receptors. The benefit of this state of affairs is that it enables a necessary degree of functional equality between the responses to the incoming light of the two different receptor-types. Needless to say, there would be no the equalling up, if the light striking the less sensitive cone receptors were to be subjected to the same impediments. This explains why the forces of evolution have created a gap in the neuron and blood vessel barrier in front of the region known as the fovea, exactly where the incoming light strikes the cone receptors.

Glare-blindness

If the equalling up process did not take place, the rod receptors would be bleached out whenever the incoming light was strong enough to activate the cone receptors. The result would be a massive degree of glare-blindness in daylight conditions.

Dire consequences

If they were effectively blind, the rod receptors would not be able to participate in daylight visual processing. One consequences would be that no neural computations of whole-field relations could take place. One of the many aspects of visual processing  that would rendered impossible would be the separation of reflect-light from body-colour. As a result there would be neither colour constancy, nor the use of the information residing in the separated out reflected-light. If this were so,  pretty well all that I have written in my book “Painting with Light” would be nonsense.

Burying the receptors in dark matter

The burying of the light-sensitive receptor heads in the dark matter is easier to explain. It prevents the light from scattering from one receptor to the next and, consequently, reduces blurring.

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The eye
Figure 1: Blood vessels blocking light from the ‘rod’  photosensitive  receptors.  The small darker disc is where the light sensitive ‘cone’ receptors are located. Notice that no blood vessels impede the passage of incoming light to these.

 

The eye
Figure 2: This image of a small section of a network of neural processes gives an inkling of an idea of the extent to which these these can block the incoming light.  For reasons explained above, the blockage only applies to ‘rod’  photosensitive receptors. It does not apply to the ‘cone’ photosensitive receptors .

 

The eye
Figure  3: A diagram of cell-types in each of the five layers of the retina. The massive numbers of each of these contribute to the blocking of the light arriving at the ‘rod’  photosensitive receptors.

Some numbers and sizes

Although the precise number of neurons and neural processes in the retina is unknown, it is certainly in the hundreds of millions. One estimate for the sum total of light sensitive receptor cells is approximately  150 million. All this packs into an astonishingly thin layer (less than 0.5 mm). The extent of retina is not much larger than a 10p piece.

A reference

If you want a comprehensive account of the component parts and structure of the retina, you could consult the relevant pages of the website of the The National Library of Medicine.  You will find them dizzyingly more complex than the grossly oversimplified information given either above or in the ‘Glossary‘ extract.

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Linear Perspective : Chapter 14 :

The mixed history of linear perspective

The purpose of this “Post” is to provide the link (below) to my introduction to “Chapter 14 : Linear Perspective“, the second chapter of “Drawing with Knowledge” (the second BOOK in the two book volume).  The main subject dealt with is uses and abuses of Linear Perspective.  The chapter explains the purpose for which the rules the rule of linear perspective were developed and how over the years  artists and teachers came to use them for other purposes for which they are not suited. It also explains how the rules of linear perspective can be used in new ways. A preliminary idea of what this means can be found in  first paragraph of the “Introductory” to this chapter, which I have included below. Also see below for links to all published chapters from “Drawing with Feeling“, the first BOOK in the two book volume.

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CHAPTER 14 – LINEAR PERSPECTIVE

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“Introductory” – from Chapter 14 : Linear perspective

Academic tradition divides the subject of “perspective” into two aspects, known as “aerial” and “linear”. Aerial perspective concerns colour changes due to the influence on appearances of atmospheric particles situated between the eye and an object being viewed at a distance, and is dealt with in a separate volume. In this book attention will be confined to linear perspective. Moreover, to avoid misunderstandings, it is important to stress that no attempt will be made to compete with the many existing texts on this subject which demonstrate that, when properly applied, the well-known laws can enable the construction of moderately realistic images without the need to actually look at anything. As far as I know there is nothing of interest to add to these, although, a great deal needs modifying in many of the texts on the subject which regrettably give us oversimplified and therefore misleading versions of this complex and elegant subject. Rather, in this volume, the laws of linear perspective are treated in a completely novel way: not as a set of instructions for the placement of lines on but as a tool for guiding looking strategies. This transformation is achieved by placing them in the context of ideas coming both from 19th century research into visual phenomena and from much more recent discoveries relating to the functioning of eyes and brains. In PART 2, the subject of anatomy will be treated in an analogous way for analogous reasons.spacer bar

Some images relating to the theme of linear perspective

Illustrating Brunellesci’s perspective mirror set-up (maItaly : Italian History and Art)

 

Linear perspective
Pietro Perugino, Christ handing the keys to St Peter 1481-1482.

 

Linear perspective
School of Athens by Raphael in the Stanza della Segnatura 1509-1511

 

linear perspective
Albrecht Dürer – perspective device for obtaining accuracy

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A list of  chapters from “Drawing with Feeling“, book 1 of “Drawing on Both Sides of the Brain

Chapters 10 to 13 to be published later

A list of  chapters from book 1 of “Drawing on Both Sides of the Brain

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Perspective and anatomy revisited

New ways of making use of perspective and anatomy

The purpose of this ‘Post’ is to provide the link (see below) to my introduction to “Drawing with Knowledge”, the second BOOK in the two book volume (See below for links with the published chapters of “Drawing with Feeling“, the first BOOK in the two book volume). The two main subjects dealt with are Linear Perspective and Anatomy.

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BOOK TWO,  CHAPTER 13 -DRAWING WITH KNOWLEDGE

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Do the rules of perspective and anatomy help or hinder accuracy?

A key property of the world we live in is that we will never perceive any of its contents as the same on more than one occasion. The list of reasons why includes the influence on appearances of:

  • The almost infinite variety of species and object types
  • The invariable uniqueness of genetic differences between members of the same species
  • Ageing
  • Environmental conditions, including  variations in the direction and strength of primary and secondary light sources, degree of atmospheric filtering, etc.,
  • Occlusions by other objects
  • Viewing angles and viewing distances
  • Visual illusions.

However seeing something (even the same object) as the same on more than one occasion is what we have to do if we are to recognise it.  This means that:

  • Recognition and the content of our long term memories must depend on generalisations
  • There will always be a degree of uniqueness in the appearance of every object we try to draw or paint from observation.

From all this we can conclude that:

  • Achieving accuracy in drawing or painting from observation will always require finding out about aspects of appearance that cannot be stored in our memories.
  • Following the rules of linear perspective or anatomy can never achieve accuracy in drawing or painting from observation.

So what can they help us to do?

  • The rules of linear perspective and of anatomy can help us construct plausible images from the imagination (See examples below)
  • The rules of linear perspective and of anatomy can help us to know what to look for.

The second of these provides the main subject matter of this book.

 

Some studies using linear perspective and anatomy.

  • Linear Perspective

perspective and anatomy
Structural study of complex object
perspective and anatomy
Piero della Francesca : studies of a head
perspective and anatomy
Piero della Francesca : Use of linear perspective in his painting “The flaggelation of Christ”

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  • Anatomy

perspective and anatomy
Visalius : anatomical study from his famous book
perspective and anatomy
Leonardo da Vince : study of arm musculature
perspective and anatomy
Michelangelo : Page of studies

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A list of  chapters from “Drawing with Feeling”, book 1 of “Drawing on Both Sides of the Brain”

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My two part volume on drawing

After posting thirty-seven of the chapters of my four books, I realise that I have missed out the “Introduction” to my two PART volume on drawing. In the edited extract from it below, some general remarks are followed by a brief focus on two issues of fundamental relevance to what follows. Also, as an extra bonus, I have added three images .

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EDITED EXTRACT

 

on drawing
A drawing by Auguste Rodin, one of two artists who set me on the way to scientific research

GENERAL INTRODUCTION.

This volume differs in fundamental respects from earlier books on the same subjects. It offers new and practical guidance on drawing-from-observation. It does so whether the artist is seeking:

  • Greater accuracy.
  • More expressive power.
  • Ways of speeding up without losing control.

Its starting point is an analysis of widely used artistic practices and teaching methods. The next step is to explain not only why these have both proved to be of lasting value but also why, as they are currently taught, they have significant limitations.

A main source of evidence for the proposals elaborated in the following pages is research, done by myself and colleagues at the University of Stirling in Scotland, into how artists use their eyes when drawing or painting. This forced me to a number of conclusions that differ fundamentally from those provided by other authors, including those promoted by Betty Edwards in her extremely popular  book, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”.

A similarity between Betty Edwards and myself is that both of us link our main explanations to contemporary science, with a special focus on neurophysiology. The difference is that the conclusions to which we come are radically different. While she relies heavily on a false theory of brain function, my arguments are are wider ranging, more up to date and demonstrably more relevant to drawing practice. As a result, I am able to offer a great deal of  new and reassuring information on human visual capacities, clarify the nature of the obstacles facing all who engage in drawing from observation and indicate effective ways of circumventing them.

During my 30 years teaching at the Painting School of Montmiral, I have had the opportunity of testing the research-based ideas on hundreds of students of all levels of attainment and a wide variety of aspirations. Although the outcome is clear and encouraging, a word of warning is appropriate. Both experience and theory make it clear that, while early progress will almost always be rapid, both for beginners and experienced artists, there is no escaping the fact that, as with all skills, the highest levels of attainment require a longer term commitment.

Experience and theory also show why early difficulties seem more daunting to some people than for others. Should this turn out to be your case, there is no need to be discouraged. No matter what your starting level, you can have confidence that, if you have the motivation to persevere, the new ways of looking and doing that I advocate will help you to far exceed your expectations.

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THE SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE

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on drawing
A drawing by Edgar Degas, the other of the two artist who set me on the way to scientific research.

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My experience as a teacher makes clear that everyone has difficulties with the accurate depiction of the outlines of objects. My research at the University of Stirling helps us understand why. It also sets us on the way to achieving the combination of accuracy, speed and expressive power mentioned above.le of

As the  science upon which much of my teaching depends will be unfamiliar to readers, a few words on two key ideas are appropriate. These centre on the subjects of “the variability of appearances” and “recognition”.

Variability

A useful preparation for understanding the nature of  the problem with which variability confronts us, is the realisation that no two objects or parts of objects ever present the eyes with the same outline, even ones that are classified as the same object-type. Indeed, because appearances are altered by every change in viewing angle and/or viewing distance, even the same object (unless it is a sphere) will never be identical in shape unless viewed from exactly the same position. Each set of relationships, whether between different sections of contour or regions colour will always be unique.

This fundamental truth of visual perception brings us to an extremely important implication of this unvarying rule of variability and the consequent uniqueness of all perceived objects. It is that, since, by definition, recognition depends on seeing something as being the same on different occasions, the precise characteristics of the contours artists seek to represent can only have a supplementary role in the processes that enable it.  Accordingly recognition must regularly involve overlooking the details of shape in favour of more general information. As we shall see in the following pages, the extent of overlooking can be huge.

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on drawing

Figure 1: A diagram of the working principles of the analytic looking cycle
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Recognition

Most people feel that they experience “recognition” as a conscious activity. But they are wrong to do so. As illustrated in Figure 1 (the details of which will be explained in due course), this key process in sensory perception always takes place before conscious awareness is achieved. The reason is that the function of recognition is not to produce an image of an object, but rather to access the knowledge required for activating instructions as to how to react to it.
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As the diagram illustrates, the the knowledge accessed is always in the form of action instructions. These may be concerned with guiding arm, leg or other body movement or they may direct the movements of eye, head or body that enable us to target aspects of appearances that require special attention. It is only at this analytic-looking stage that consciousness has a role in visual perception.
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But how does the eye/brain know where to target attention? It may help when seeking an answer to this question to remember that analytic-looking skills, like all other skills, are developed for specific purposes. Some skills, such as the ones learnt when very young, create platforms for more advanced ones. Anybody who sets themselves to learn a totally new skill has no option but to start with existing skills. All of these will be a compound of basic skills learnt as an infant, such as those required for grasping objects or for guiding the direction of crawling, and more advanced ones that have been developed later, such as those required for washing up, for using a computer or for any kind of sport.
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This being the case, it follows that, if we wish to acquire complex visually mediated skills, we will have to learn the action instructions necessary for guiding appropriate ways of looking. Accordingly, although people learning to draw for the first time might have had experiences relating to other tasks that have allowed them to develop skills that could contribute the acquisition of drawing skills, they will never be enough. No matter how near the fit, they can only be of limited use unless appropriate ways of building upon them are developed.
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If advanced artists assume that all this has no relevance to them, they should think again. The handicap of being saddled with old knowledge when facing new situations does not only apply to learning skills in hitherto untried domains of activity. It also applies to developing any skill at all beyond its present stage, no matter how well honed that may be. When Edgar Degas, one of the most skilled drawers in history, asserted, “I must impress on myself that I know nothing at all, for it is the only way to make progress”, he was making the claim that, no matter what the subject matter, fresh ways of looking will always be required.  In view of the unvarying variability of appearances, there is no alternative but to agree with him.
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A more familiar and general way of expressing the above conclusions is that learning a new visually mediated task requires leaving aside bad, old habits in favour of adopting good, new ones. This book provides comprehensive information concerning how this can be done in the domain of drawing from observation
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on drawing
My son Thomas at a difficult moment in his life, a drawing that owed a great deal to my scientific research.

Below are links to chapters from my volumes on  drawing:

VOLUME ONE : “DRAWING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BRAIN”

BOOK 1 : “DRAWING WITH FEELING”

The chapters so far loaded:

BOOK 2 : “DRAWING WITH KNOWLEDGE”

The chapters so far loaded:

OTHER POSTS ON DRAWING:

 

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An artist among scientists

Mutual benefits

During the twelve years I worked among scientists at the University of Stirling in Scotland, a transformation took place in my understanding of just about everything to do with the role of the eye and the brain in the organisation of the  the main perceptual and motor skills used in the making of drawings and paintings. PART 2 of my book “What Scientists can Learn from Artists” tells of experiments done by myself, colleagues and other scientists that made especially significant contributions to this exciting development.

Chapter 7, (accessed by clicking on link below) offers an autobiographical introduction the contents of PART 2 that gives a flavour of what I was up to in those years. A theme that runs through its pages is that the transformative learning was a two way process, offering benefits to all concerned. Time revealed many unexpected advantages in my being a combination of an experienced artist/teacher and a naive beginner in all the scientific disciplines in which I was to participate. My new colleagues found themselves faced with a drip feed of questions coming from unfamiliar perspectives that were to prove their value as catalysts capable of stimulating new ideas for a surprising number of highly expert scientists, working in a variety of disciplines. In return, their often participatory responses enabled me to put together the body of ideas that underpin the originality of my books, my teaching and, to an important extent, my work as an artist.

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CHAPTER 7-AN ARTIST AMONG SCIENTISTS

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artist aong scientists
Two stripy paintings, made while the story above was unfolding.

 

Chapters from “What Scientists can Learn from Artists”

These deal in greater depth with subjects that feature in the other volumes

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More information on my main colleagues

 

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Illusory pictorial space

Illusion in painting

Over the centuries, at least since the Italian Renaissance, artists have sought to represent three dimensional objects and scenes on two dimensional surfaces. By implication, this required them to create an eye-deceiving third dimension (‘trompe-l’œil).

To achieve their objective, they and their successors:  (a) mastered the laws of ‘linear perspective’, (b) delved deeply into the subject of ‘anatomy’, (c) explored the form-making properties of ‘gradation’, (d) recognised the importance of ‘overlap’,  (e) provided explanations for the phenomenon of ‘aerial perspective’, (f) explored whole-field lightness relations (‘chiaroscuro’) and (g) demonstrated the value of existing knowledge of the form of objects and the layout of scenes in influencing how viewers would perceive them (‘cognitive  cues‘).  In other words, over the centuries the artists have pioneered our understanding of just about everything that psychologists of perception needs to know about illusory pictorial space.

However, there was one big absence and it is this that dominates the discussion of illusory pictorial space in two of my books. In “Painting with Light and Colour” the subject is approached from the perspective of artistic practice. In “What Scientists can Learn from Artists”, which contains the chapter that can be obtained by clicking on the link below, its treatment has both scientists and artists in mind.

The chapter also touches briefly on the issue of what they saw as the immorality of deceiving the eye, which was to have both a decisive and long lasting effect on the evolution of painting from the Impressionists until the late 1960s at least. More on this in my other books.

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CHAPTER 6-ILLUSORY PICTORIAL SPACE

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A pictorial history of illusory pictorial space

 

 pictorial depth cues illustrated
Vittore Carpaccio (565-1625) – Lots of depth cues: overlap, shading, linear perspective, etc.

 

 pictorial depth cues illustrated
Claude Loraine (1600-1682) – Using aerial perspective to deceive the eye

 

 pictorial depth cues illustrated
Berth Morisot (1841-1895) – Brush marks made evident to emphasise the picture surface

 

 pictorial depth cues illustrated
Cézanne (1839 – 1906) – Doing his best to hold everything on the picture surface

 

 pictorial depth cues illustrated
Picasso (1882-1973) – Intent on keeping depicted surfaces near the actual picture space

 

 pictorial depth cues illustrated
Peit Mondrian (1872 1944) – Sought to depict a “spiritual space” within the flat picture surface.

 

illusory
Jackson Pollock – The critic Clement Greenberg, described him as creating as “A space within the picture surface”

 

illusory
Ellsworth Kelly (1953-2015) – Failing to eliminate illusory pictorial space

 

illusory
Michael Kidner (1917 – 2009) – Gave priority to keeping colours flat on the picture surface

 

illusory pictorial space illiminated
Ellsworth Kelly (1953-2015): Unambiguous flatness at last. But is it a painting or a sculpture?

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Other Chapters from “What Scientists can Learn from Artists”

These deal in greater depth with subjects that feature in the other volumes

 

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