Drawing From Photos Is Hard

The common view is that drawing from photos is easier than drawing from life.  This view is rationalized by the fact that the photo has already reduced the subject to two dimensions.  Clearly this is true but, in my opinion, it ignores the flip-side of this, i.e. that a photo takes the life out of the subject that three dimensions provide.

A cardboard cutout of R2-D2 doesn’t provide as much information as a 3D model of R2-D2.  This same information is lost in a photo as well, or so I believe.  And when I try to draw from photos, my brain seems to think so too, because it literally is less interested in the project than when I draw the same subject from life.

I’ve drawn a lot of statues because we’ve got a gazillion of them in Quebec City and I enjoy doing so.  But when I drew a Jacques Cartier statue from a photo, my brain wandered, failed to engage in the process and the results seemed to reflect my lack of interest.  I think I’ll stick with life drawing.

4 Responses to “Drawing From Photos Is Hard”

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  1. Tina M Koyama says:

    Totally with you! Learning drawing techniques with the use of photos has its place, but it can’t compare with real life in engaging the mind. I think there’s so much more to be learned from drawing from life.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one, Tina. I wonder why we don’t talk about this more often. We talk a lot about the enjoyment of location sketching but gosh, engaging the visual cortex is what ‘seeing like an artist’ is all about and that’s much better done with life drawing, and I’m not talking about drawing naked people 🙂

  2. Jane Hannah says:

    Hi Larry!

    I hope that you are well? I wanted to ask you a question. I have a Namiki Falcon Pen, which I love but the nib is a Medium size and I would like to buy an Extra Fine Soft nib. After looking everywhere, it seems as though the nib would be as expensive as getting a new Namiki Falcon! And I know.. the name has changed. Do you have any recommendations for moi? Have you ever seen these nibs for sale for less than $100? I have looked on GouletPens, Andersonpens.com, penaddict, stylo.ca, jstationery, etc. to no avail. If ever you have any brilliant ideas, just give me a shout -)))

  3. Limner C says:

    I agree with you. Trying to draw a portrait using a photograph is like trying to extract teeth from an earthworm.

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