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In order to paint, you must first learn how to draw. There is a ton of misinformation on the internet and in literature, especially the famous book - "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook" [1]. This is a completely wrong way to learn how to draw. It gets you to point where your results may look pleasing but your foundation is going to be weak and it will fall apart.

Let me explain.

In order to draw convincingly, you must first internalize the object in 3 dimensions. You have to learn how to "think" in 3D - more specifically, given an object, you must be able to draw it from any angle, with or without foreshortening, and with any arrangement of illumination and with any camera focal length. Start with simple shapes - they're boring but that is a __must__. Then, start stacking primitives such as cones, cubes, cylinders, etc. Draw 20 different views of the same setup of primitives. Do this everyday for 6 months and you will pickup how to think in "3D" so to speak.

If you follow [1], you won't be able to do this. You will be able to copy a photograph or illustration by recognizing shapes but that only goes so far. If someone asks you to draw the same thing from a slightly different camera angle, you're lost.

Learning how to paint then adds another layer about color harmony, texture and stroke style. But fundamental drawing skills are __critical__ in order to paint well. All bets are off if you're trying to do abstract art or non-representational art.

You can take Jeffrey Watt's classes or a full course [2] or follow a few channels such as Sycra [3] on Youtube.

[1] https://smile.amazon.com/Drawing-Right-Side-Brain-Workbook/d... [2] http://jeffreyrwatts.com/ [3] https://www.youtube.com/user/Sycra




This entire post sounds like a "hot take". There is indeed a ton of misinformation around and there is no reason to believe your post isn't exactly that, especially when you make undefended claims like "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is a completely wrong way to learn".

I'm also puzzled that you explicitly put down dotrsotb but then go on to recommend Sycra, who recommends that book frequently...


It's all subjective in that most people who want to draw or paint, likely have completely different ideas of what being good at that is.

"Drawing from the right side of the brain" is basically just a brain hack to allow a person to essentially trace what is in front of them. To some people that might be the goal. To make a reasonably accurate copy of what is in front of them. For others they may want to be able to draw an accurate picture of something from their head. Others may want to create wild stylistic abstractions. The original post referenced impressionism. In that case a more informed knowledge of color and composition might be more helpful.

Personally, as someone who has spent my entire life drawing(and a chunk of it painting) I cringe at that advice to learn from that book. I have read it and it will definitely help someone to render and accurate version of a photograph or object in front of them. But it really boils down to a shortcut as opposed to fundamental learning. Its like teaching math with just a series of steps to get the answer without teaching the underlying fundamentals of what is happening. In the short term you'll test well, but in the long term your growth will be stunted if you do not also learn the concepts involved.

Hope that is a bit more clarification. And with all that said, for some people that book might be wonderful. I do think it is well written and I did enjoy it and I imagine others will as well. Its a fun read and set of exercises. Just wanted to give you a bit more perspective on the opinions presented.

With that said, the general advice given in what you are replying to is way over the top. No one needs to spend 6 months drawing cones in space. That smells like your typical exaggerated internet advice that tends to prevent people from taking the first steps.


>"Drawing from the right side of the brain" is basically just a brain hack to allow a person to essentially trace what is in front of them.

I really don't agree with this sentiment mostly due to the way it is voiced. Yes, the core of "drawing on the right side of the brain" is learning to see objectively and draw what you see. I wouldn't call that a "brain hack" or say that is "essentially tracing" what's in front of them (since "tracing" is kind of a dirty word in art context). Even if it were, that by itself is a very valuable thing to a lot of people, since a lot of styles of drawing and painting boil down to essentially just that, whether it's drawings of nature, portraits, or still lives.

I would say that learning to see is a fundamental drawing skill and this book teaches you valuable things by forcing you to stop and consider what things actually look like.

Of course, that by itself isn't sufficient, but it doesn't need to be. Nobody is suggesting that someone use this book as their only resource. But I do think it's a good introductory book for people who have very little to no experience drawing.


Agreed. I'm a pretty solid artist who doesn't learn well from others, and I'll still praise the book. It had another lesson in it that I never see mentioned, one that was expanded on in Drawing on the Artist Within. Our mind has task managers that constantly assess what we're doing. They do scheduling, handle cost benefit analysis, etc. For someone who doesn't already have the right aptitudes, this can lead to a nagging voice in the back of your mind telling you that you aren't doing a good job, this is boring, you're wasting your time. Getting people to use some simple brain hacks to stop listening to their preconceptions and just draw what they see can bypass these issues long enough for some people to see that they're being their own worst enemy. It isn't a good book to teach you how to draw. It's there to help make sure you don't give up the moment you start.


What book would be a better choice?



Obviously I don’t have data to back up my claims but I explain what’s wrong with shape-copying way of drawing.

Then, I go on to explain the litmus test for evaluating whether one has internalized the “3D” aspect of the object they are trying to draw. If someone can draw from a reference but can’t draw the same thing from a different angle - that means they’ve learned to draw based on that book that I linked.

Contrarily, you haven’t put forth a valid criticism of my post except highlighted that it’s a “hot take”. I am happy and willing to engage in a debate without calling/judging.


This is a pretty strong opinion, and not necessarily correct.

>"Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook" [1]. This is a completely wrong way to learn how to draw

Do you have a source for this? This book has been recommended by a good majority of the drawing/painting professors I had (at a fine arts school). The entire basis of the book is "learn to draw by learning to see".

>Do this everyday for 6 months and you will pickup how to think in "3D" so to speak.

This isn't bad advice, but not doesn't correlate directly with learning to draw/paint from observation. This is a helpful exercise if you are looking to go more of an illustrative/modeling route. If OP is looking to draw from imagination completely, this would be helpful - but I would still argue that practicing from observation would build a better visual vocabulary than practicing basic shapes only.

>But fundamental drawing skills are __critical__ in order to paint well.

true

>All bets are off if you're trying to do abstract art or non-representational art.

Demonstrably false. Every single one of the abstract/non-representational masters have an extremely good grasp of "traditional" (i.e. observational) skills. Even Pollock knew how to draw from life.

To OP - I would recommend starting by drawing AND painting from life at the same time. There's no real reason to master drawing before attempting to paint, as painting is essentially drawing with color. That being said, drawing is a great way to force you do as much as you can with a very limited tool box (line, shape, texture, value, space (composition)).

Also - don't take anyone's advice as an absolute. There are thousands and thousands of ways to progress as an artist and not a single one of them is "correct". The only constant is to be persistent and self-critical.


I am expressing my opinion about the book - I have read through it and it is a complete train wreck in my view. I also explain why I think it is a wrong way to teach new comers. Furthermore, I provide a litmus test of checking if someone has learned to draw from the "right" side of the brain. I do not need to provide a reference for an opinion that I am stating.

> "Demonstrably false. Every single one of the abstract/non-representational masters have an extremely good grasp of "traditional" (i.e. observational) skills. Even Pollock knew how to draw from life."

So did Picasso, Rothko, Richter, Burri and many more. But, I can also point to Bacon, Yayoi, David Hirst, etc. who have no interest or background in drawing skills.

My point was, by saying that "All bets are off", I meant that being able to draw well is not a necessary condition to become an abstract artist.


My training was more in the “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” school. My dad, who was trained at the School of Visual Arts in NY, gave me the book as a kid. My drawing teacher in college also focused on representational drawing.

Personally, I still recommend “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”, because I think it addresses the biggest hurdle: drawing what you actually see, instead of what you “think” you see.

Understanding underlying geometry and primitives is a neat trick, and one that can help with figure drawing. But, it can also make the work feel mechanical and lifeless.

I think there’s a balance somewhere in the middle.

As far as abstract work, I think a solid representational foundation is still important. Picasso, by the age of 13, could paint with incredible realism.

If anyone’s interested, here’s some of my “traditional” work:

http://gregorywieber.com/art/traditional.html

(Contains some artistic nudity)


Thanks for the advice. From your art I got the sense that, "hey this is a cool dude"... then I found your Alan Watts pixel art :)


In my youth I was training to be a portrait gallery artist and studied privately in artist studios throughout my twenties. I largely didn’t go that route professionally because 2008 happened and other opportunities presented themself, but learning to draw in order to paint is fundamental.

The single biggest issue novices have with art, whether painting or drawing, is edge control and handling values, everything eles is largely practice observing and studying.

The best way to learn edges and values is drawing, lots and lots of drawing, critiques, and master studies. A master draftsman can pick up a paintbrush and be proficient quickly, but it’s extremely difficult to skip that step if wanting to jump straight to painting.

Largely I don’t know your goals, if it’s just to paint for fun, ignore the advice, learn the technical side and enjoy yourself. If you want something nice looking as well, draw draw draw.


I'm fairly surprised this comment is at the top right now.

Honestly, while your comment probably isn't entirely wrong, I'd hesitate to say that painting is the kind of activity where a pre-requisite is learning to draw.

The concept of painting is bringing your vision to life on media. Whether that's a scene with obvious shapes or not. There are plenty of art pieces where drawing or knowing how to draw before creating the painting would've been unnecessary.


You must have noticed why there are a lot of still-life studies in painting. Sometimes, starting out with a 4-shade monochrome palette. The reason for studying still life, classically by countless masters and in today's fine art courses, is that it teaches you about few things:

1. Being able to draw/paint from life. Still life objects are easily accessible without paying for a human model.

2. More importantly, household objects can easily be broken down into primitive shapes. Cups, Cans, Pots, Apples, etc..

3. It teaches you about illumination, finding values by "Squinting" and finding edge quality (soft, hard, lost, etc.)

Furthermore, the classical masters practiced "Chiascuro", i.e. high contrast and wide dynamic range light conditions that can be simulated indoors with still life. The reason why drawing is prerequisite for painting is that the act of application of paint depends on local values where your brush stroke is being applied to. In order to find the value of the color, you need to know the form. In order to know the form and how it is illuminated, you need to "internalize" the 3D aspect of the object. Therefore, always, drawing is 80% of the work in painting (80% to make a point, obviously, I don't know exact percentage).


Drawing is 2D; why would I need to internalize anything in 3 dimensions? Maybe you're thinking of a definition of "drawing" as in "accurately reproducing a 2D perspective projection of an anatomically correct 3D horse from any angle". But that's just a very narrow slice of the vast world of visual art.


> Drawing is 2D

It (like painting, where this is taken advantage of far more often) is actually 3D, since it involves applying one or more layers of material of nonzero thickness on a base substrate, though it can be (and often is) treated as 2D ignoring that.

But, yes, the grandparent was focussed (perhaps excessively) on advice about how to do representational drawing of objects existing in 3D space as a prelude to painting, presumably focussed on similarly representational painting.


It goes without saying that drawing is a way to represent 3D objects into 2D space.

Once the fundamentals are good - i.e. "accurately reproducing a 2D perspective projection of an anatomically correct 3D horse from any angle", you could develop your own style, make caricatures, cartoons, hyperrealism, figurative-expressionism, etc... You can have the freedom knowing that your skeleton (figuratively speaking) is correctly placed in 3D.


> It goes without saying that drawing is a way to represent 3D objects into 2D space.

Drawing provides a way of representing 3D objects into 2D space; it's not what drawing is.




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