An artists guide to unlocking the mysteries of visual perception. By Heather Spears. Click
On 7th March 2020, I travelled to Copenhagen to Heather Spears’ book launch for this black & white edition of The Creative Eye, and retrospective of her beautiful line drawings. The next day Copenhagen was in Coronavirus Lockdown, and not too long after so was the UK.
I have spent this Lockdown period re-reading this amazing drawing manual. I can hear Heather’s voice in the words as I read them – I’ve been fortunate enough to have been on the receiving end of her teaching numerous times. The economy of phrase, the space and pauses, the intelligence behind the exercises and yet just how down to earth it all is amidst the poetic and artistic inspiration her book offers.
I fell in love with life drawing at art school in 1983 inspired and guided by my teacher. Heather’s book, which I first came across in 2011, has been the 2nd most influential life drawing guide, and undoubtedly the single most influential art book that I have read. It is the book that saved me from teaching boredom and from ‘looking at bad drawings’, as Heather regular says. After teaching life drawing for 10 years I had become stuck. My teaching was going nowhere – I was bored. I knew there had to be more to teaching but I couldn’t figure out how to get students through all the repetitive mistakes they continued to make.
The Creative Eye answered all my questions and offered me a whole lot more, as a life drawing teacher, and drawer. Heather has very generously offered readers insights from her long career as a life drawing tutor, supported by research into how the eye works and how humans ‘see’ or perceive our world.
The drawing exercises in The Creative Eye are special in two ways. Firstly, Heather has managed to transform some of the drawing exercises entrenched in life drawing practise the world over since Kimon Nicolaides published his book ‘The natural Way to draw’ (1941). With insight, intuition, and scientific research, Heather has updated some of these exercises and made them applicable for the 21st century. Secondly, Heather has contributed her own new insightful well-crafted exercises, proven over a career of teaching to deliver better drawing results, that deserve to be added to the lexicon of life drawing exercises taught the world over. Trust in the process as its presented in The Creative Eye and students will transform their drawing skills. The exercises deliver results, students are inspired and most importantly travel a journey to become better drawers.
The research into the how and why of perception presented throughout the book supports the practical drawing exercises and creates a coherent drawing program that offers teachers and students a progressive creative journey. The Creative Eye is a fully cohesive drawing program leading students from a beginning to an end point where they will have transformed their understanding and thinking about the act of drawing, and developed their practical drawing skills beyond anything they would probably have achieved in any other drawing course.
The Creative Eye is a joy to teach, which I regularly do from my studio in Manchester, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to life drawing teachers – it will add another level of information, insight, and a host of drawing exercises to your teaching toolkit and transform how you teach. Heather’s book has transformed my own teaching and enabled me to fall back in love with teaching life drawing. I continually get a hugely positive response from my students and I recognise this is primarily an endorsement of Heather’s achievements in writing The Creative Eye.
For life drawers, beginners and experienced, The Creative Eye is a joy to read and you will benefit so much from practising the exercises at your weekly life drawing group. Over time life drawers will see their drawings transformed – I can see this is what happened to me when looking back over my own drawings.
I am constantly in gratitude to Heather for offering The Creative Eye to the world life-drawing community. It deserves to be embraced.
Brian Raymond, Manchester, UK (May 2020)