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The Practice and Science of Drawing

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Classic approach to the dynamics of drawing by brilliant teacher with insights and practical advice on line drawing, mass drawing, visual memory, materials and much more. 84 plates and diagrams reinforce Speed's clear presentation.


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Classic approach to the dynamics of drawing by brilliant teacher with insights and practical advice on line drawing, mass drawing, visual memory, materials and much more. 84 plates and diagrams reinforce Speed's clear presentation.

30 review for The Practice and Science of Drawing

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This was a very interesting read. It's quite old-fashioned but art instruction IMO tends to get so full of "shoulds" (this book being no different) but because the "shoulds" in this book and this viewpoint are historical, reading them is actually enormously helpful and emboldening for an artist today wanting to stand up against today's "shoulds". It shows that the "shoulds" aren't immutable (which renders them not really "shoulds" at all). Unexpectedly, he takes a stand against pure realism (min This was a very interesting read. It's quite old-fashioned but art instruction IMO tends to get so full of "shoulds" (this book being no different) but because the "shoulds" in this book and this viewpoint are historical, reading them is actually enormously helpful and emboldening for an artist today wanting to stand up against today's "shoulds". It shows that the "shoulds" aren't immutable (which renders them not really "shoulds" at all). Unexpectedly, he takes a stand against pure realism (minus emotional connection to the subject) that is closer to my own point of view as an illustrator than to what is promulgated in some modern "atelier" type life classes. I found the book gentle, intelligent, passionate, and sustaining. And best of all, it's got some great tips and observations in it. Like if you're working on a medium tone paper with lights and darks (eg gray paper with white chalk and charcoal, don't let the chalk and charcoal meet. Keep a margin of gray in between. Perhaps that's obvious to some but I've made that mistake more than a few times. And wondered why I was making such a mess. Of course!) Or a very interesting discourse at the beginning about how we get to know our world as infants first with our fingers and our mouths and that that is why we move first to draw contours when we first pick up a pencil. Very smart man and I would think a wonderful artist.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This would be the book I would choose if I had to choose one book that helped me the most with drawing (not that I ever would!) Although this book has its share of practical advice, it is not an instruction book. Speed takes a much more conversational approach than I am used to seeing in drawing books. This book changed my perception of the visual world. His advice helps me break down the world and "see" the way I could draw it. It's not the only book a person should read if they are interested This would be the book I would choose if I had to choose one book that helped me the most with drawing (not that I ever would!) Although this book has its share of practical advice, it is not an instruction book. Speed takes a much more conversational approach than I am used to seeing in drawing books. This book changed my perception of the visual world. His advice helps me break down the world and "see" the way I could draw it. It's not the only book a person should read if they are interested in drawing, but it is a must for anyone who wants to learn the art behind drawing and not just become a human copy machine.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Sherriff

    This is more a treatise on how the artist should approach drawing and painting than a practical guide, although there are practical points throughout. And while Speed's approach is perhaps old-fashioned -- it was published in 1913 -- it's not dated. That is to say, he approaches good art as a balance between form and line, unity and variety and technical ability and artistic expression. He argues most forcefully that the student should learn technical ability before he or she can master personal This is more a treatise on how the artist should approach drawing and painting than a practical guide, although there are practical points throughout. And while Speed's approach is perhaps old-fashioned -- it was published in 1913 -- it's not dated. That is to say, he approaches good art as a balance between form and line, unity and variety and technical ability and artistic expression. He argues most forcefully that the student should learn technical ability before he or she can master personal expression and while his discussions of perfect mathematical balance in the great masters' works seem a little over the top now, he makes a convincing case for the need for "dither" -- a little inaccuracy, some human touch (perhaps what the Japanese call wabi sabi?) that will always elevate art from the purely mechanical. A classic every student artist should read. Download my starter library for free here - http://eepurl.com/bFkt0X - and receive my monthly newsletter with book recommendations galore for the Japanophile, crime-fiction-lover in all of us.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Berry

    This is not a book on art instruction. This book breaks down drawing into the concepts of line vs mass, and then elaborates with the unity/variety, balance, rhythm and proportion of each concept. It's written clearly and sequentially, building off of previous ideas. The book is helpful for beginners to develop visual literacy, but is more valuable to experienced artists as a way to analyze old master works and understand both what makes paintings compositionally sound, and also drawings intentio This is not a book on art instruction. This book breaks down drawing into the concepts of line vs mass, and then elaborates with the unity/variety, balance, rhythm and proportion of each concept. It's written clearly and sequentially, building off of previous ideas. The book is helpful for beginners to develop visual literacy, but is more valuable to experienced artists as a way to analyze old master works and understand both what makes paintings compositionally sound, and also drawings intentional and sincere. This book becomes more valuable with experience, and is definitely one to revisit every few years.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    Recommended to me by a still-life artist--the vocabulary was a bit archaic but enlightening none the less. Mr. Speed has made me look at the world around me in a completely different way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Saskia

    This is an amazing book. It would have gotten 5 stars if the pictures were of better quality and colour as I feel it would aid the explanations he gives. However that would make the book a lot more expensive and thus less accessible. I really recommend this book!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian Platz

    This book gives a lot of information on classical practices from a scientific perspective, and that it is initially essential to learning. Once this is perfected it is overshadowed by the "dither". This quality that moves beyond the representation of a tree and teaches you how to see the "impression" a tree or a figure gives you. This is how you develop the 'you' in your art and is the overall focus as it should be. Very encouraging and an irreplaceable read for any artist

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alaza Aj

    I've just started reading the book. I like drawing and have a number of books on the subject. From the introduction this book definately seems to offer a different approach. For me , it holds the promise of not only giving me the drawing skills ( wrt to form ) I need but further, that it will turn me into an artist. The introduction gives valuable insight into what an artist really is so I look forward to reading the rest of the book!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mary Adams

    I love this book and refer to it often, fr inspiration. this is a good book for Artists to hae.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Harold Speed, you can't help but love every word he writes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    P!

    for the practicing representational/traditional artist -- worth its weight in gold -- Will not gather dust on the shelves

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emile B

    great something to keep coming back to, and realizing where importance lies. He is a great additive to painting and drawing because he can write and paint, a unique talent.

  13. 5 out of 5

    TLA Thư

    I think this is the great book for one who wants to start artist life seriously. Serious not only to the art technique but also to art soul.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    If Speed has one fault, it’s that of being a male writer in 1917 who thinks he’s talking to an audience of other men. I wish one man in the world could ever understand how alienating that is to read as a woman. I’d live and die for edits of this kind of book with ‘he’ and ‘him’ replaced with ‘them’ and ‘theirs’. Aside from those roadbumps, it’s an amazing book. He does have awkward moments where he’s wrestling with the conflict between traditional teaching of drawing and everything that’s rising If Speed has one fault, it’s that of being a male writer in 1917 who thinks he’s talking to an audience of other men. I wish one man in the world could ever understand how alienating that is to read as a woman. I’d live and die for edits of this kind of book with ‘he’ and ‘him’ replaced with ‘them’ and ‘theirs’. Aside from those roadbumps, it’s an amazing book. He does have awkward moments where he’s wrestling with the conflict between traditional teaching of drawing and everything that’s rising up in the art world to meet him, from Impressionists to abstract expressionism and Surrealism all the way down to a hundred years later, when most artists CAN’T DRAW. I don’t think poor old Harold could even conceive of a world where that’s possible (neither can I, to be frank). So he’s stuck trying to convince the reader that technical competence is a good basis for lots of things, even just ‘playing with light like those weirdo Impressionists’ (I love the implicit assumption, which is mostly true, that Impressionists do their thing because they’re not good at realistic detail). These days we know you can be a multi-million earning ‘artist’ by refusing to make your bed or throwing paint on a canvas and twirling a stick in it, so if this was re-written now it would be easier to shrug your shoulders at what ‘fine art’ has become and just direct this to the people who want to be technically, anatomically, proportionally competent at drawing. In that sense, he has great deal of valuable advice. For example, it’s fascinating to remember that we first learned what things were by touching them – hence the importance of looking at edges and masses. (Or by contrast, to read his paean to lithographs and think about photocopiers.) Whereas formerly, before the advent of machinery, the commonest article you could pick up had a life and warmth which gave it individual interest, now everything is turned out to such a perfection of deadness that one is driven to pick up and collect, in sheer desperation, the commonest rubbish still surviving from earlier periods. Oh Harold, if only you knew… And nothing more true about modern art has been written than this: The struggling and fretting after originality that one sees in modern art is certainly an evidence of vitality, but one is inclined to doubt whether anything really original was ever done in so forced a way. The older masters, it seems, were content sincerely to try and do the best they were capable of doing. And this continual striving to do better led them almost unconsciously to new and original results. Followed closely by this: If the unity of his conception is allowed to exclude variety entirely, it will result in a dead abstraction, and if the variety is to be allowed none of the restraining influences of unity, it will develop into a riotous extravagance. ROTHKO R U LISTENIN U MISSED UR CALLING AS A HOUSE PAINTER Mere prettiness is a little difficult to place, it does not come between either of our extremes, possessing little character or type, variety or unity. It is perhaps charm without either of these strengthening associations, and in consequence is always feeble, and the favourite diet of weak artistic digestions. HARSH BURN BRO At such times the right strokes, the right tones come naturally and go on the right place, the artist being only conscious of a fierce joy and a feeling that things are in tune and going well for once. Defining ‘flow’ long before Csikszentmihalyi.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Irsa Saraci

    A great book to read for the theory of drawing. Made me highlight a lot of sentences, which everyone has probably thought of in some way, but never in such a structured and clear manner. As George Orwell said: "The best books, are those that tell you what you know already." But, for anyone looking for a technical practice of drawing, this is not the right book. I bought this book online waiting for something else, but I am not mad at it for what it gave me. And for what's more important, I now b A great book to read for the theory of drawing. Made me highlight a lot of sentences, which everyone has probably thought of in some way, but never in such a structured and clear manner. As George Orwell said: "The best books, are those that tell you what you know already." But, for anyone looking for a technical practice of drawing, this is not the right book. I bought this book online waiting for something else, but I am not mad at it for what it gave me. And for what's more important, I now believe that any drawing artist should read a theory of the science of drawing before approaching it. This breaks it down pretty good.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alia Bosh

    last chapters were what i was searching for so ....

  17. 4 out of 5

    Laura E. Mackey

    Alright.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Magi

    Doing my yearly review of resources for art classes I teach.

  19. 5 out of 5

    John Clement Sr

    No Illustrations I have been looking for a book that has illustrations. This book has none that could have been useful to me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    Note: See introduction for excellent discussion on what art is. Speed's Definition of Art: Art is the Rhythmic Expression of Feeling Quotes ----------------------- If he fails from lack of skill to make his representation convincing to reasonable people, no matter how sublime has been his artistic intention, he will probably have landed in the ridiculous. And yet, so great is the power of direction exercised by the emotions on the artist that it is seldom his work fails to convey something, when gen Note: See introduction for excellent discussion on what art is. Speed's Definition of Art: Art is the Rhythmic Expression of Feeling Quotes ----------------------- If he fails from lack of skill to make his representation convincing to reasonable people, no matter how sublime has been his artistic intention, he will probably have landed in the ridiculous. And yet, so great is the power of direction exercised by the emotions on the artist that it is seldom his work fails to convey something, when genuine feeling has been the motive. (p29) The study, therefore, of the representation of visible nature and of the powers of expression possessed by form and colour is the object of the painter's training. (p29) You cannot teach people how to feel. All you can do is to surround them with the conditions calculated to stimulate any natural feeling they may possess. And this is done by familiarising students with the best works of art and nature. (p30) There is more direct appeal to the imagination in line drawing than in possibly anything else in pictorial art. (p50) The test is whether it has life and conveys genuine feeling. (p74) It is only when a painter consciously chooses a manner not his own, which he does not comprehend and is incapable of firing with his own personality, that his picture is ridiculous and conventional in the dead sense....The artist has to discover a convention for himself, one that fits his particular individuality. (p75) Originality is more concerned with sincerity than with peculiarity. (p76) Nature seems to abhor equalities, never making two things alike or the same proportion if she can help it. All systems founded on equalities, as are so many modern systems of social reform, are man's work, the products of a machine-made age. For this is the difference between nature and the machine: nature never produces two things alike, the machine never produces two things different. (p229) To know what you want to do and then to do it is the secret of good style and technique. (p265) Art is not a substitute for nature, but an expression of feeling produced in the consciousness of the artist, and intimately associated with the material through which it is expressed in his work. (p272) There is something that makes for power in the limitations your materials impose....If students could only be induced to impose more restraint upon themselves when they attempt so difficult a medium as paint, it would be greatly to the advantage of their work. (p273) Those artists who can only draw in some weird fashion remote from nature may produce work of some interest; but they are too much at the mercy of a natural trick of hand to hope to be more than interesting curiosities in art. (p287) The "seeking after originality" so much advocated would be better put "seeking for sincerity." (p287)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ross

    Wonderfully useful to any artist. While written quite some time ago, and including some negative criticism of what was then new styles of artistic expression, this work is as valuable to the modern artist as it ever was. While the title would lead one to expect it to be mostly useful to illustrators, print makers, or other artists who predominantly "draw" rather than other media, the author spends as much time on painting technique as he does drafting, and his commentary on composition, line, and Wonderfully useful to any artist. While written quite some time ago, and including some negative criticism of what was then new styles of artistic expression, this work is as valuable to the modern artist as it ever was. While the title would lead one to expect it to be mostly useful to illustrators, print makers, or other artists who predominantly "draw" rather than other media, the author spends as much time on painting technique as he does drafting, and his commentary on composition, line, and colour is universal to all two dimensional art forms. I strongly recommend this work, and expect to refer back to it often.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Conroy

    Very old-fashioned, and narrow-minded. Not much help to me as I develop my drawing skills. I could perhaps imagine a decent book being made from it, though, if it were cut in half by a skilled editor, and then only to give a glimpse into the mind of a very particular kind of artist in the early 20th century.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Taryn Blackburn

    This is one of my favorite books of all time. I'm currently rereading it, and I plan to reread it many times. Harold Speed gives words to the inner workings of the universe and thereby puts definition on fine art, which has alluded definition by the most brilliant minds.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Good descriptions regarding the fundamentals (especially of composition) of drawing. Probably not hugely useful for anyone who has never attempted to draw but a good reference for early intermediate. Would benefit from a sketchbook full of further illustrative examples.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jedkimball

    Dense but great resource

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kip Johnston

    Amazing book to help artists understand drawing in a classical sense

  27. 5 out of 5

    Martha Smith

    I have read many art books on drawing. But I did not find this book particularly helpful.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Marts (Thinker)

    Excellent descriptions and representations, but more for reference I dont think it's appealing for beginners.

  29. 5 out of 5

    bil Chamberlin

    So far it has changed the way I view my own work, I have never before been so inspired to paint or draw, I'll add more when I'm done.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I liked the part about how we learn to interpret visual images, but the illustrations were hard to see on Kindle.

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