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The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study Paperback – Feb 1 1990

19 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (Feb. 1 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0395530075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395530078
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 1.8 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #72,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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"...not only the best how-to book on drawing, it is the best how-to book we've seen on any subject." Whole Earth Review

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Christopher A. Kubasik on March 24 2004
Format: Paperback
This book has taught me so much I wouldn't know where I'd be without. Others have already spoken to all it offers, so I'm gong to limit myself to the folks who've trashed it.
First, this is a book of exercises. You either do them or you don't. But anyone who "flips through the book at the library," then complains it has nothing to offer is like someone who goes to the gym, watches other people work out, then leaves feeling unimpressed with a gym's ability to help him get in shape. Making a judgement about this book without "working" it is exactly as foolish.
Second, there's nothing "modernist junk" at all about "The Natural Way to Draw." You'll be moving into anatomy studies and reproductions of the masters soon enough. Nicolaides is all about observing the details of life and recording them well. Again, such an ignorant comparison of the techniques Natural Way to Draw with a sloppy draughtsmanship and "modernist junk" only reveals the reviewer (who admitted he only "flipped" through the book) didn't flip very far and with little understanding of what he was holding in his hands.
Third, there's a story further down about an art school where the teacher mocks this book. Too bad. I studied at that school. And I'm glad I did: I learned a lot. But that school ultimately is not enough. Their students draw well rendered work, but it's also flat, uninspired, and repitative. "That Natural Way to Draw" gives you the tool YOU need to draw the way YOU want to draw.
Look: there's no easy path to drawing and painting really well. And this book guides you to drawing and painting really well. So, yes, it takes time; it takes effort. But at least all your effort is focused and fruitful. This book gives you the fundementals in a series of exercise. It's like doing exercises at the paino before you can play a concerto. And there's nothing wrong with that.
If you want to apply yourself and become great, check this book out.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jason Wiles on Feb. 8 2004
Format: Paperback
This is the closest thing to art school us working stiffs will get. It is an outstanding book written as if the author was teaching you in a classroom setting. This has advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are that you will learn just like a real art student would learn, with lessons and exercises. The examples in the book are from actual students. In fact I haven't seen a single drawing from Nicolaides yet. This is a good thing because you are not just copying the artists work, you are making your own! However the disadvantage is that an enormous amount of time is required. If you follow the author to the letter and spend the amount of time he wants you to, you will spend 375 hours on this. Block aside one hour a day and you will finish this book in about 1 year! Personally I think you could reduce about 1/5 from this and still get the same results but that is still a large commitment. But if you think about it practice is the only way to improve and this book gives you lots of practice. Another thing is that a human 'model' is used extensively. Most of us don't have access to a model. I use movies and the pause button to get my models and it seems to work well. I for one really like the book. I like the approach because it is serious yet laid back. I want to learn to paint but realize I need to start with the basics so here I am. I think for the price, this book is a steal and, as a beginner, it is an excellent starting point to the world of drawing and will be a valuable reference in years to come.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 26 2002
Format: Paperback
I first used this book as a text for an intermediate college rawing class. It is a true classic. But it is also a process. My instructor, who followed it faithfully, explained that you may get "worse" before you get better. That is because this book teaches you how to draw from the inside, with a full understanding of the form and structure of the subject. So if you are used to drawing with your hand, as they say, and rendering just the surface or details, then getting used to drawing with the arm will take a bit of adjustment. But in the end, you will come to a MUCH stronger knowledge of the form, and your drawings will reflect that. A trained eye can usually tell the drawing that came from life from the one that was copied from a photograph; likewise the one that came from someone with a solid understanding of their subject matter. If you are looking for a "how to do proportion or shading", this isn't really it. But if you want to develop your skills as a serious artist, there is no short cut.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 27 2004
Format: Paperback
I just finished taking a drawing course in which my instructor taught the same concepts that Nicolaides writes about: extensive gesture studies, blind contour drawing, modeling of the form with gesture-mass studies. Honestly, as I worked in class, I had very little idea of what these exercises were for (it would have been great to have had a hold of this book then). I have always been good at rendering figures in a hyper-realistic manner, but as one reviewer described student work at his school as "well rendered work, but its flat, uninspired, and repetative," my work had no life to it. What I found was that the more I practiced seeing and feeling my subject matter through these "scribble" drawings, the freer my line and hand grew, and the more presence I started to see in what I put on the paper.
If you want a method to help you learn to "feel" your work and move you beyond mere rendering, I highly recommend this book. But along with that desire should come a commitment to practice the exercises with an open mind if you want to get the results. I have learned for myself that having a lot of head knowledge about art techniques hasn't made my work vital, nor his it given me the itch in my bones that I need to truly create. Even though this may sound silly, I used to consider myself a good drawer, but now I feel that the door to being an "artist" is opened to me.
If you are more interested in a book to help you practice techniques with less of a time/effort commitment, I recommend Bert Dodson's Keys to Drawing. It is more of a "how-to" book for beginning students. It takes a very different teaching approach, more practical, but I like it for the many visual examples, the broad range of fun exercises, and the sections on drawing faces and proportions.
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