Hogwarts Finished and Nicolaides Contours

Today I finished the Hogwarts castle and started some exercises from Kimon Nicolaides’s book The Natural Way to Draw.

The drawing of Hogwarts went well today. I find it much easier to draw buildings than portraits. I can have all kinds of inaccuracies in a building where as a portrait needs to be perfect or else anyone can see that something just isn’t right.

I’m preparing for a new long term idea where I read art books and put summaries of them online. I figure that while I’m reading these books I can do the exercises, if they have any, and learn while I create some awesome content for other artists. I figure this project will take me 5-10 years at least. Let’s hope I can keep the energy going on it.

The first book on the list is The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides. I read this book years ago, or maybe I just skimmed the book and didn’t do much reading, but I do remember it. What I also remember is quickly discounting the practices such as contour drawing. Which is the process of drawing the outline of the figure while not looking at the paper.

Only now, after 7 years of daily art do I see the value in this exercise. In fact when I’m drawing the model in life drawing I find myself doing similar practices in order to determine the length, angle and position of lines. The whole idea is to envision that your pencil is actually on the outline of the model, you try to deeply imagine that your eye and your pencil are linked as your sight “feels” around the contour of the model.

I hope at some point in the book Nicolaides describes the purpose for contour drawing so I can get a definite answer. But until then I feel that the purpose of it is to train your connection between eye and hand. This exercise is strengthening the bond of movement between the eye and hand so that in the future estimations of angles, lengths and distances will come more naturally.

One thing I really like about the book is that it’s organized as a step by step instructional guide. The student is not supposed to move to the next theories until the exercises are completed. The first set of exercises is 5 days, 3 hours per day. I wish more books had this structure. Most of the art books I read have a ton of wisdom but not much in how someone can put that wisdom to practice.

Here are the drawings. I might also mention the first part of the book where Nicolaides stresses that all these drawings are not meant for display at all. These drawings are purely for exercise and learning. He even goes as far to say that you never need to even look at the drawings when you do them. Just recycle them right away. In many ways I agree.

My reference from New Masters Academy

 

What went well?

Lots of drawing today and I really enjoyed the contour drawings, it was like meditating.

What didn’t go so well?

My time was split a lot, I’m getting some paintings ready for a show plus reading and drawing. But it is all art related.

What did I learn and/or how can I do better?

Never discount any art practice. If you don’t know it then study it and then, only after careful consideration, can you determine if it’s right for you.

2 Comments

  1. First, I love your drawing of Hogwarts. And I agree that landscapes — even with buildings — are much easier than portraits or the figure. But I guess that’s why I once heard that you can’t learn to draw unless you’re drawing nudes. The complexity of the human body in almost every pose is staggering.

    Second, I wish you the best of luck on your new project. I can’t wait to see which books you tackle. You could really be setting yourself up for a future of teaching.

    Finally, maybe I haven’t been drawing long enough, but I have trouble understanding what Nicolaides means when he talks about the eye-pencil connection. However, it seems to me that the purpose is really to develop your observation skills. There’s a book called “The Artist’s Brain” that really helped me understand that you have to draw what you see, not what you think. In other words, you draw that particular tree, not an idea of what a tree is. The few contour exercises I’ve done really sharpened that skill.

    • Thanks for the book recommendation! I’ll keep you posted here on how my new project goes. It’s going to take a while to get started but I’m committed to putting effort in daily. 🙂

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