Customer Reviews of The Natural Way to Draw
- I just finished doing every exercise in this book. I began the book as a complete novice to art. It took me 15 months of hard work, and dedication to get through it. But it was worth it! In 15 months I have progressed from drawing stick men to producing very credible work.
Creatively, I feel like I've been shot out of a cannon. I found my way of looking at things has dramatically grown. I have become more disciplined and dedicated to learning art as I've progresssed through the book. I notice I have increased mental flexibility and concentration, and am able to memorize more quickly and thoroughly than before. Instead of believing that I could never produce a masterful piece of art, I now believe that I not only can, but will.
I am now busy learning to oil paint with a limited palette, and my work is progressing quickly and enjoyably.
For some reason, I suspect the hardest part of learning art is behind me now. I will continue to return to this book in the future, for inspiration, and to continue to sharpen my seeing and drawing skills.
What you may need to know.
In order to help you decide whether or not to buy this book, I will try to make clear what the conflicting reviews mean. Actually, they are all right (in my opinion). Which side you take depends on the method of learning you prefer.
If you want a quick, "no brainer crash course" that will get you up and drawing ASAP, then use first "The (New) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. The exercises in that book can be completed in less than a week; by then, you should be able to draw impressive lifelike portraits.
Now, let me warn you: Ms. Edwards' book teaches you how to COPY (draw) WHAT YOU SEE just as your eyes see it. You won't learn to draw from nothing; you will need a photograph or model to work from. Simply put: you will learn to copy whatever you look at.
Now, if after that, you find yourself wanting for more-- that is, you want to learn and do more -- then get this book by Nicolaides. This is a serious instruction manual that requires a lot of your time and energy. Using it is just like being in art class. You have to follow 25 schedules amounting to 15 hours of drawing each, and in all you will use more than 60 exercises. Each chapter builds on the previous ones, so it is necessary to do all of them in order, for as long as directed. This will take 6-24 months to "finish", assuming the student draws 1-6 hours a day.
Does that sound too much for you? If so, don't feel bad. This book turned me off, too, when I first opened it. It does take a lot of work; I understand why some people are disappointed by it. But if you keep up with it, you will definitely see the results at around Schedule 13. Several chapters after that, I found myself experimenting with all the drawing exercises I'd learned (Nicolaides, Edwards', Pogany's, etc.) to make the drawings I wanted. I also use computer programs that Nicolaides never even dreamed of.
That -- learning to combine and/or make your own drawings and nost just plain copying -- is what puts Nicoliades' book at a different class from Edwards'. That, and learning to experience the model in the natural, if old-fashioned, way.
So, my advice is go first for Betty Edwards or maybe "Drawing For Teens"(?) recommended below by an earlier review. If you want more than that, then come back here and get "The Natural Way to Draw". It might bore you at first, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. But give it the effort it deserves and you will know why this book has been called "not only the best how-to book on drawing, it is the best how-to book we've seen on any subject."
I reviewed this book earlier, after only a month into working with it. Now I've been at it about 7 months, which, for me, means I'm a little over 1/2 way through. I'm so thankful to have found this book at the beginning of my learning to draw. I also take a drawing class where there are live models to work from. In truth, I only take to class for the opportunity to work from a living form, because this book is my true instructor. And it is the best instruction in the art of seeing and learning that can be imagined. I compare my work with others in my class who have been working far longer and I feel sorry for them. I feel like working this book has got me moving at warp speed. I showed it to another class member and he said, "you're serious about this, aren't you?" If you really want to learn how to see and how to draw, use this book and stick to it. It will pay off. I can see a face now and truly draw it. And I can draw it almost as well if I use what I've learned from the memory exercises and draw it tommorrow.
Incredibly thorough, inspiring book.
Funnily enough, when I first received this book I was somewhat disappointed. I had learnt to draw with Betty Edward's "Drawing on the right side of the brain" and somehow mister Nicolaide's book seemed a little too academic to me. False. This is a wonderful book, with exercises that to last for a lifetime. The author states that you should use them in the prescribed order, but I think it will benefit those who have worked through the Edwards' book but still want more. Although the book is brilliantly inspirational and oozes with a kind sense of humour, it shouldn't be mistaken as new agey stuff. You do learn to draw if you put the hard work it requires. It is definitely worth every cent (or in my case, peseta)!.
If you can only buy one art book, buy this!
The book was published posthumously in 1941 by Nicolaides' students. Their fervor for their late revered teacher is evident in the manner in which the book is written. They developed a rigorous lesson schedule which demands consistent attention of the artist.
I first read The Natural Way to Draw in 1983. In January of 1985 I began a self study course using this book as my guide. I followed every lesson plan and read and re-read until I could recite the book by heart. Too broke to afford a nude model for the lesson plans, I drew my neighbors chickens, cows, horses and sheep, supplementing those subjects with weekly attendance at a drawing group and borrowing the local science teachers human skeleton. Whatever the subject matter, Niccolaides taught me to understand the essence of gesture. A little over a year and a half later, I finished the book. I went on to earn a college degree (BFA)in Painting and to become a professional artist. When I look back at the past 18 years of my life as an artist,this book had the most influence of any that I have ever read or worked with. I highly recommend not just reading this book, but studying it. Devote a year of your life to studying this book and you will be a better artist.