Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Training The Visual Memory, Part I

Comment pouvez-vous faire, cela?

Visual memory is a fountain of artistic imagination, a collection of stored observations. The careful analysis of visual forces becomes a lens through which subsequent experience can be filtered.

How does one develop visual memory? Practice drawing both on paper and in the imagination. Memorizing simple shapes is a good way to start. Focus the attention on outline and proportion. Gradually increase complexity of shape to three dimensions by adding value, that is, light and shadow.

Begin with an image you wish to memorize, tracing paper, drawing paper, ruler and pencil. Measure your image and draw a box of the same dimensions on your paper. In the beginning, drawing diagonals corner to corner on both your image and in the box will help to aid your memory.

Have no distractions. Look at your image for 3 minutes with complete focus, then turn it over and draw it in the box from memory. Go as far as you can. Try closing your eyes for a minute if retrieving the image is difficult.

When you feel complete, turn the image over and compare. Trace the image and the boundaries of the box it is in. Line this box up with the box drawn on the paper to see where your drawing is off. Trace your image in another color or use a dotted line to differentiate. Date this tracing.

Repeat this exercise every day for a week and note your improvement. Increase the complexity of the images and gradually shorten the time you give yourself to memorize and recreate. Ultimately, you want the process to be instantaneous.


Boston Artist, Melody Phaneuf is well known for her evocative still life, landscape, and portrait paintings. Her paintings are regularly on view at The Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street; at Fenway Studios, Boston by appointment; and North Shore Art in Gloucester from May through October. Phaneuf ‘s paintings have been exhibited at The National Arts Club in New York City, Galerie Herouet in Paris, and with Art du Monde, in Japan.

Melody The Artist Home, founded with photographer and color specialist, Martha DiMeo, features Phaneuf’s original oil paintings on tumbled marble tile murals and beverage coasters, fine art prints, and handmade note cards.

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1 comment:

Martha said...

What an awesome lesson!