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[Drawing] From Memory
April 21, 2009

Do you worry that you can't draw from your memory or imagination? You know, it's really not such a big deal. I've heard experienced artists say they can't do this. It's probably safe to say a good majority need something to observe then draw.

If it's something that you really want to do, then try using shapes to outline what you want to draw.

Let's say I wanted to draw the side view of a chick from memory. I'd lightly draw 2 circles overlapped on paper, the one on the top right would be smaller than the circle for the body. Scribble in some rough lines (representing feathers) to join the 2 circles together. Add a protruding wing (a curve from the middle to the outside of the big circle), an eye, blend in the beak and add the legs! There, I have sketched a chick from memory! You only need to insert a couple of well-thought out feather lines here and there.

That's a very rough explanation so I've done a step by step tutorial for you, on this page:

How To Draw A Chick.

Ok, that's cheating if I do a step by step process, because it's not from your imagination then, is it? However, my intention is to give you the idea of how to learn to draw from your memory.

When you draw from imagination, you still rely on real objects to help you reach that objective. I don't think it's anything to fuss over. Nature provides us with everything, it's perfect reference material and it doesn't get offended if you copy it.

Even cartoonists use real life examples as a basis for their cartoons.

If there is one subject in particular that you want to draw from memory, then practice observing, understanding and drawing it from real life as often as you can, consistently. This observation along with practice will eventually embed itself in your mind and then you'll be able to draw from that visual memory.

The trick is to practice. It's as simple as that. (Gosh, are you sick of me saying that?)

Reader Feedback

Re: Light and Shade Newsletter March 2009

Nellie wrote to say she can't work out the direction of the light. The thing about teaching yourself to draw is that you know when you are ready to tackle something new. If something doesn't make sense or it looks too hard, leave it. Let your art flow and let it happen as your own progress allows.

I'd like to thank everyone who wrote in last month, I appreciate that you take the time to say hi and let me know how you are going.

Tip of the Month

Before you begin a drawing, define the space that you will be drawing within. Do this by drawing a light border.

This border will assist you with your decision making: What will I draw? How will I organize it?

The border gives you a good starting point. I mean, if you have drawn a small square, then you can commence drawing just one leaf, or a flower or whatever catches your eye at the time. A small square border means it's probably going to be a single item in the form of a quick sketch.

As you grow in confidence, make your border bigger. By doing this in stages, your drawings will come together nicely.

No more staring at a blank page!

, thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this issue, I really appreciate it.

You are welcome to reply to this email if you have anything you'd like to share with me. I love hearing from you.

Kind regards,


"You cannot draw what you cannot see".
- (Leonardo da Vinci)

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