The Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist and Horse Anatomy, a coloring book

This is what I learned in art school and what I want to learn now.

This is what I learned in art school and what I want to learn now.

At York Academy of Art, they wanted us to draw and paint in the ways of the old masters. These are important things from the old school:

#1 Anyone can learn to draw at any time in life. It’s like a musical instrument. You can do it if you practice.

#2 The difference between average artists and great artists is drawing skill. The great artists practice drawing so they have better skill.

#3 The figure is the hardest thing to draw. If you can draw the figure you can draw anything. To draw the figure well you have to study anatomy. To paint a good portrait you have to draw skulls.

#4 If you trace from a photo your drawing skill won’t improve. If you paint a portrait from a traced photo it will come out looking flat and lifeless. So if you really want to learn to draw, put the camera away.

Does that sound like tough talk to you? I thought it was. That’s how it was at York Academy of Art. I rebelled. I said, “I don’t feel like drawing, I want to do sculpture.” But it was an intense program and I learned despite myself.

At YAA we went through this whole book copying all the illustrations and memorizing the names of the bones and muscles. It’s to teach you the sizes and shapes that make up the volume of the figure. And how the figure moves.

Twice a week we had figure drawing with a live model. We had to put a piece of tracing paper over our figure drawing and draw the bones and muscles on the tracing paper to check what we drew.

Plus we had another drawing class every week besides figure drawing.

I filed the info in the back of my mind for many years and started working on it again about 15 years ago. When I was younger I probably didn’t have the time or self discipline to do it. One subject I always liked is a horse. They’re not easy for me to draw. So I was excited when I found this horse anatomy coloring book in the gift shop on Assateague Island. I know it’s a kid thing, but if I do the same exercises using the horse anatomy book it will help improve my drawing. So that’s my plan this winter, because the weather is too dreary to paint outside.


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