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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Amazing
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...
Published on March 24 2004 by Christopher A. Kubasik

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13 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Over-complicated & wordy
"The Natural Way to Draw" by Kimon Nicolaides, 221 pages
Nicolaides book is often compared to "Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain. Now I understand why. They are both complicated, overly-intellectualized approaches to drawing. Nicoliades writes the better complication however, because his book is approximately 60% wordy text/40% pictures...
Published on June 27 2004 by Bruce Bain


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Amazing, March 24 2004
By 
Christopher A. Kubasik (Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Closest thing to art school, Feb. 8 2004
By 
Jason Wiles (United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (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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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a method of learning to "feel" and move in your artwork, March 27 2004
By 
"jayseefaith" (Seattle, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars not a short cut -- for those who want to develop mastery, April 26 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding instruction in classical drawing, Dec 28 2003
By 
Russell Collier "TheGeek" (Smithers, British Columbia Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (Paperback)
I have used this book, both personally and in drawing classes, and I have to say, the author's approach is meticulous, well-thought out, and based on the best principles of learning to draw. That is, the student is led through a series of exercises designed to build a solid vocabulary of drawing techniques and observation skills.
Well worth the price! I happily lost my previous copy to a wanna-be drawing friend years ago, and I happily replace it again today. An excellent companion to Betty Edwards' fine book.
Please don't be dismayed by the semi-literate rantings of some reviewers. This book has been used very successfully as the core instruction manual for many drawing classes.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Just dont take so literally!, Oct. 27 2003
This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (Paperback)
Dont be thrown off by Nicolaides' insistence on following his rigid three-hour-daily schedules. His approach is otherwise brilliant, focusing on exercises designed to help you master the various elements of drawing individually.
That so many would recommend "Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain" over this book is ludicrous- Nicolaides' description of contour is no less helpful to the beginner than Betty Edward's, and "Natural Way" goes beyond to encompass anatomy, composition, NUMEROUS ways of understanding/expressing form (cross contour, modelling, etc), and the books high point- the best description of the use of gesture found in any drawing book (alone worth the price of admission). To the fellow who claimed his art teacher mocked the book, someone needs note that Nicolades' book has been used by COUNTLESS PROFESSIONALS, including illustrator Marshall Vandruff, teacher of top fantasy artist Justin Sweet(check out [...] and [...]
Take this book literally at your own peril, for just under the surface are countless gems of wisdom. Do the exercises at your own pace and leisure, and pay special attention to what Nicolades is really trying to tell you - that drawing well requires "seeing" with your impulses and emotions.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard work but rewarding!, Sept. 5 2002
By 
Arnab Chakraborty (Stanford, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (Paperback)
This book means hard work. It tells you how to practice, gives you lessons, specifies a schedule for doing them, and then pushes you onto the arena to DO THE LESSONS. As the introduction to the book tells you, you are not even supposed to read a page ahead before doing the lessons mentioned before that page.
To all those who want a quick way to success, this does not appeal much. But if you are ready to devote time and energy this book will do full justice to your patience. Of course, if YOU do all the work, then why do you need this book? The point is that the book specifies a very nice set of exercises that help you to focus on one thing at a time. In one set of exercises you study details, in another you study gesture, and in yet another you study weight.
The book is not geared to teaching you any particular style of drawing (eg, landscape or portrait). It is a book to make you realize the artist in you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You get what you put in to it, Oct. 20 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (Paperback)
I recently picked up this book off amazon. Not only did I see that it recieved rave reviews, but i've had several art teachers who worship this book as the artists bible. However, this is not a simple book. IT IS A PAINSTAKING JOURNEY - designated for only serious art students. If a person were to put all the time and effort like the author suggests into the exercises, they will become an excellent artist. If little time is put in, you mine as well of not bought the book in the first place. One of the other problems with the book is that most do not have beautiful naked models to conduct drawing studies on at their own will. If that were the case wouldnt we all be rembrandts?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book., Oct. 29 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (Paperback)
So many books I have purchased approach drawing from an academic viewpoint. I felt that such books were a waste for me as they made drawing and art something foreign and beyond my reach and comprehension. One book in particular by a very famous artist asked that the student copy his drawings and asserted that drawing was something learned by contagion, by diving in. But what happened to me was complete learning failure as I simply couldn't get beyond the complex forms, and the overwhelming feeling that I was drowning in detail and a lack of understanding.
Nicolaides' book, however, teaches one bit by bit. It brings out the artist that lives intrinsically within each individual and teaches one how to actually SEE a form and capture it. In just a few days of beginning the exercises, I drew my hand almost without looking at the paper and it was an incredible experience. It was very tactile and exciting as I sat calmly and renedered my hand in a very natural and familiar way. It was like my mind merged with my hand and I knew it. I could express it. My drawing, incidentally, turned out very well and impressive.
It may sound strange to others, but I guarantee that this book is titled very appropriately and will teach anyone how to draw from within with an intense curiosity and desire to feel out forms.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the motivated student, Sept. 10 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study (Paperback)
"The Natural Way to Draw" is not an easy book. Mr. Nicolaides does not provide any shortcuts to mastery. He does, however, show the reader how much work it takes to start learning. In Mr. Nikolaides' words: "The job of the teacher,... is to teach students, not how to draw, how to learn to draw."
The philosophy is best reflected in the exercises: Each of the 25 sections contain a 15 hour work schedule. That's 375 hours. In addition, Mr. Nicolaides points out certain exercises, estimated at five to ten minutes, he expects the student to go through every day.
The exersises are of the "artistic" kind. It is nothing like the outlines and negative shapes one see in other books, what little mention there is about materials is almost obsolete; what matters is communication. The term "gesture" is used extensively throughout the book: "You should draw, not what the thing looks like, not even what it is, but what it is /doing/" (p. 15).
Later, the student is asked to draw "weigt", i.e. to convey in a similar way, onto paper how heavy an object is. After that, the student is asked to try to capture poses of people he or she sees in streets, malls etc.
All such concepts are enforced in terms of exercises. There is large variation between long exercises, lasting for hours, and short ones, where the student is expected to make one drawing per minute for half an hour.
To me, the value of this book is in the exercises. The text only motivates, explains what should be achieved by the exercise. The exercises are also described by text, so they are demanding in that the student needs to think through what is expected, in a different way than if the ecersise was illustrated in terms of demonstrations and images. To me, this adds to the value of the book. I liked the many, short exercises wery well. For several years I have carried a small drawing pad and a couple of pencils with me, wherever I went. Mr. Nicolaides has shown me what to look for, what to try to get on the paper, when I sit at airports and cafes, and scribble away.
The highly motivated student will find this book indispensable.
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The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study
The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study by Kimon Nicolaides (Paperback - Feb. 1 1990)
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