The exercise that I was using today from my Keys to Drawing book is drawing a pepper from memory, and then from life. I didn’t have a pepper, so I used a banana. The drawings were limited to 40 minutes each, although the from memory drawing took significantly less time, and I will share my theory on why this was after I discuss the process.
The from memory drawing went very smoothly, almost too quickly. I focused on adding little shapes that would define a classic banana shape without over doing the symbolic part; I was very satisfied with it as a whole, until I did the still life version.
Drawing the banana from life was an entirely different experience. I found myself paying more attention to the shadows and details, and it was seemingly more difficult. It was also the longer of the two drawings, taking about 15 minutes more until the time limit was up.
Why did the still life take longer than the from memory drawing? And why was it more difficult? The reason for myself can be found in the stem, mostly. I took a very cursory amount of time on the stem in the from memory drawing; in the still life, I found myself fascinated by the inner details of the fibrous bits, angular and curvy shapes co-mingling into a cohesive and not unattractive whole. I don’t think the still life turned out better, but I do think it turned out more accurate, that being the purpose of the exercise in the first place.
These exercises are obviously not meant to be one-off, but rather a set of disciplines to apply to my art overall. I’m excited for the next one, drawing a tinted glass, to get a feel for incidental shapes like light and shadows, which I feel really bring out the character in a drawing or painting.