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This Is NOT A Figure Drawing!

That's right, this is not a figure drawing, but rather a memory drawing.

One of the things I routinely did in order to better assess my skills were memory drawings. Years ago, when I started drawing the figure, I would test myself to see how well I understood the anatomy. During the drawing session I would make a mental note to myself about a particular pose, and then -- the next day -- draw that pose from memory. This drawing you see is a memory drawing.

Doing this exercise was incredibly helpful because it allowed me to spot deficiencies in my work. If I had a problem drawing shoulders, feet, or hips, I could immediately spot the problem in my memory drawings. I would then compare the memory drawing with my original figure drawing from the night before in order to see how close I could get to the original. How well did I remember the pose.

Sometimes the poses I drew from memory were slightly different, but the information in my memory drawings had to work nonetheless. The memory drawings had to work in and of themselves, not just a copy.

One of the things that motivated me to start this exercise was noticing other artists that were really good at drawing the human figure when it was in front of them, but would literally fall apart when they had to draw a human figure from memory. I vowed that was not going to be me! Wherever I spotted a problem in my memory drawings, I would pull out my anatomy books and concentrate on that specific part of the anatomy. Doing this, my drawings improved rather quickly.


Anonymous said...

Man...this may sound strange but...that left knee is beautifully drawn. You got the quads hooking into the kneecap and the kneecap hooking into the crest of the tibia. But you did it in such a subtle way...yeah...thats powerful man!! Great drawing...please post more.


Dave Dick said...

Yeah seems to work! Beautiful drawing!

Mark McDonnell said...

AWESOME Marcelo. Great idea and interesting take on your professionalism. Impressive,


Marcos Mateu said...

Hey Marcelo, you are right, this is a great exercise. it´s easy to asume 'problem solving' is not too much of a big deal with a model in front of us, while the real test to check on ourselves and see if we were "really paying attention" is when trying to go from memory.
Good seeing that you posted again after a while!
Hope all is well. (Call ya when I´m back)

Alessandra Sorrentino said...

Hey Marcelo, great post!
I used to do this painful exercise a while ago too and yes, it definitely helps to improve and fix problems that sometimes you don't even expect..You made me want to start doing that again!
By the way, how's it going? Thanks again for that day in Los Angeles and the burritooo :)
Take care!

Shuku said...

Lovely. Absolutely pure lovely. And that's a -really- good way to start thinking in terms of drawing and anatomy. I hadn't though of it that way but you're right - I should try that some day and make myself work! By the way...what -is- a good anatomy book for artists? There are a lot, I know, but I've no idea which I should grab and I can only afford one at this point, all of them being so expensive so I thought I best ask for recommendations...


Ramsés Meléndez said...

Cool Girl draw!

Milenko said...

You draw from memory good.
I wish I could do it.
And your 3 minute sketches are far better than mine.
Cheers to you and your skill,

Kind regards,


Lena said...


Noelle said...

This sounds like an excellent exercise. I'll be sure to give it a shot.