Memory Drawing

Perceptual Training and Recall


"Why should an artist bother to train their visual memory, and what does that even mean? Can’t I just paint what’s in front of me, or from a photograph, or from my imagination?"

These are the kinds of questions I sometimes get from students when I bring up the subject of memory drawing.

The simple answer is, of course you can. However, having a well-developed visual memory can be of immense help to your work from a model as well as when working from your imagination.

Remember that all drawing and painting from life is at some point done from memory, even if that memory is only seconds old. Your ability to recall something previously seen is all the more important when your subject is no longer in view. Among many others, Leonardo da Vinci, Corot, Degas, Whistler, and Inness wrote about it. In fact, Inness claimed that many of his best landscape paintings were done from memory.

Memory Drawing: Perceptual Training and Recall, by Darren R. Rousar teaches you how to visually perceive and accurately recall those perceptions. It will also help you improve your abilities to remember fleeting effects, seize essentials, and even enhance your imagination.

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Much of the training in contemporary academic ateliers focuses on understanding and interpreting what you see in front of you. At the moment, there’s a growing interest in supplementing those skills with the training of memory and imagination . . . Rousar’s book is thoughtfully and clearly written, and will benefit both teachers and students interested in improving their powers of memory.

James Gurney, artist and author.

As the subtitle of the book alludes to, this book is as much about learning to perceive what you see as it is about memory drawing. Whether the end-goal is drawing, painting or sculpting directly from life, or from your memory, memory drawing begins with an intentional effort to visually observe your subject. How well you remember your subject is directly related to how well you observed it.

In other words, you need to become an expert observer in order to have an exceptional visual memory. Memory Drawing: Perceptual Training and Recall will also help you learn how to better and more accurately perceive what you see.

I think in almost all modern training in art there is a lamentable neglect of the training of the memory. I have frequently been astonished to find that artists of great ability have apparently no visual memory and are unable to do anything without the immediate presence of the model. This seems to me to be a patent evidence of a lack of the right sort of education. . . I should feel that half the value of a sound training in drawing was lost if it were not made to include a training of the memory as well as of the eye and hand.

Kenyon Cox (1913)

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Memory Drawing: Perceptual Training and Recall provides a curriculum for training your visual memory as well as your ability to visually perceive.

What a loss to both to art & society that we are not all taught this in school as children. Finally a modern well written guide to visual memory & visualization training that is not based upon intangible methods like meditation but practical art instruction.

Gareth Thomas, artist.

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Although I encourage you to consistently engage in memory-drawing practice, it should not supplant your regular art exercises. Memory-drawing ought to be done in addition to your regular art training, not instead of it. In a perfect world it would be integrated into traditional arts instruction, but the reality is that you will most likely be training your visual memory on your own.

Memory Drawing: Perceptual Training and Recall exists to guide you in doing just that. It will also help you improve your abilities to remember fleeting effects, seize essentials, and even enhance your imagination.

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