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Some ideas about Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing From Life

15 Feb

I have owned a copy of George Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing From Life for some years now, but only now it’s starting to dawn on me what I’m supposed to do. I did a short monolog on Twitter in several tweets and decided to save it for a later date. I therefore copied the contents of the tweets below.

Some insight is starting to build about Bridgman. His drawings are about structure, not likeness. It are annotations of a thought process. What he is drawing is just the surface of an involved mental process in your mind. The drawings in themselves say little unless you know the code, how to reproduce the structure in your mind’s eye. Those Bridgman scribbles are shorthand for complex thoughts.

All this means if you expect a step-by-step guide from Bridgman, you’re missing the point. He wants to wean you from those guides. Instead, Bridgman wants you to think about what you are seeing, not in words, but visually thinking. It is a big switch for most.

It means that you don’t follow some guide, where someone else has done the thinking, but instead, you have to think for yourself.

I will try to draw some examples of what I think Bridgman’s ideas are about drawing from life, not to impress you, but to use this blog to think about anatomy for artists. It is the thought process that counts, not the annotations on paper or in bits.

Once I’m sort of happy with those drawings, I will share them on this blog, with some words to explain what I’ve drawn and why.