Friday, October 5, 2012

holism, facewalls and stuff-

Whoah whoah hoea hoe, holism? Yes, holism. Holism is a psychological term which caters to totals, groups of smaller parts, general entities, as opposed to, well, I dont really know. Some would call it reductionism, but that sounds pretty stupid.  None of this actually makes a lot of sense, but I will try to explain it as best I can.

In essence, the difference between the kind of holism im referring to and its counterpart, whatever we label it, can best be explained with an example. When I first learned about holistic approach in psychology class, we used learning as an example.

A holistic approach to learning something new, say, how a sequentially structured 3 part object with a certain function works; A holistic person would learn as much as possible about how it works as a whole, would learn about the objects basic function. Once he has a solid grasp of how it works as a whole, he will start refining his knowledge in all areas, and he may start researching about how the 3 advanced parts that together compose it work on an individual level.

A person who does not learn holistically will instead find out the sequence, and then he will research about the first part. Once he has learned all there is to know about the first part, he will move on to the second part, and after that the third part.

Both ways of learning eventually lead to the same result, they are merely different ways of approaching the issue and aquiring the knowledge. In a nutshell, holistic learning is highly iterative; it starts out by sketching out a little bit of everything, then refining this information time after time. Reductional learning would break the subject into many different parts, then go through them one by one. Its difficult to say which one is "better", and I dont think theres a definite answer to that question. Both have their advantages and disadvatages, but how they affect your learning depends on what you are trying to learn.

This example I gave also shows only pure holistic process or not at all. People are not strictly holistic, they adapt the level of holism in their thought processes automatically depending on the task before you. Sometimes a holistic approach is right, sometimes is definitely wrong. Imagine, for example, reading 2000 random sentences in a book. This would give you a very vague overview of what the book is about, and this is the holistic approach to reading a book. Once you have read these 2000 sentences, you would keep on reading random sentences until you will eventually have read every sentence in the whole book. Gee, wtf, thats not how were supposed to read books, we read them word by word, chapter by chapter! Holistic reading sucks!

Well then, why is this holism-gibberish important?

That is because its important to think holistically when you are drawing. Im not saying your art will be shit if you draw systematically from the top to the bottom, some people do that, but it is easier to make great art if you at first establish a good base, mark out where everything will be, and create a structure. This is easier because a) it gives you a good idea of where everything should go, proportions etc will be easier to get right. b) its easier to plan composition this way. c) you get a good idea of how it will look way before it is done.

Lets imagine we interrupt 2 people in the middle of their portrait drawing sessions. One is purely holistic, and one does not have a single holistic atom in his whole body.
The holistic guy will have already drawn the whole face, whats seen of the body, the background, and nose, ears, mouth and eyes are all clearly distinguishable. It does look a little rough around the edges though.
On the other hand, the other man will have drawn exactly half the face, in all its full glory and splendor. It cuts off right at the nose, though. Hes drawing left to right, scanline style. The holistic guy is sketching out ALL THE THINGS, just not very precisely, and thats the difference.

I draw holistically. First, I sketch out all the contours, then I shade everything in an approximate manner, then I start drawing all the details, and I think this is the right approach to drawing, most skilled artists draw like this. Beginners tend to get stuck on certain things. If you want to make progress, read some more about holistic approach, and start drawing this way. It especially applies to digital art, since its very easy to go back and redraw stuff.

If I do draw systematically, I often face problems such as the different parts dont fit together right, and I cant make the transitions between areas smooth. This is one of the reasons i have for shunning a systematic approach. Not saying it might not work for you though, some pull it off.


mandatory art stuff


So yeah. Holist sketched everything, beginner drew the nose first.

Much text, little art. I havent been drawing alot lately :/ It appears i have fallen into a phase of not being able to motivate myself enough, but fear not, there cannot be cycles if there are no phases. Take world litterature for an appropriate example. Read holistically, its the right approach for this subject.

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