There is a great deal of fabulous information in the text of Andrew Loomis’ books, and those who jump straight to his wonderful drawings without taking the time to read his words miss a lot.
Following the general talk about what makes artwork appealing, including his theory of intelligent perception, Andrew Loomis begins to talk in earnest about the actual elements of good drawing, though he is still maintaining a philosophic position at this point; the actual technical instruction, and ‘how-to’ section of the book is yet to come.
Here, Loomis introduces the reader to the key elements which are necessary to create a convincing piece of representational art. He boils the elements down to 5, and emphasizes that they are the essential frameworks for the conception of a drawing. What he means by conception is none other than the successful expression of an artist’s sense of life.
He creates an elegant method of recalling the 5 elements, in that he establishes 5 terms which all begin with the letter ‘P’. The terms become known as the Five P’s.
Here they are:
- When one considers the drawing of any subject, it must be noted that all objects are dimensional; that they have height, breadth and thickness. Furthermore, there is a ratio between these dimensions, and when those ratios add up in a drawing we have a convincing representation. A drawing cannot be good when the ratios are not proportional, so the first element is PROPORTION.
- Every drawing is a puzzle, and choosing where to place subjects within the boundaries of the paper’s edge constitutes the consideration of the second element which is PLACEMENT.
- All drawing needs to be related to an horizon. When an artist does this correctly, he is engaging in the technique of drawing called PERSPECTIVE.
- Everything we can perceive with our sense of sight is made possible by the degree of light which falls on it. Where there is light, there is shadow, and in order to understand how to render light, the artist can break an object into PLANES.
- The placement of an object constitutes only half of the visual puzzle, the other half is related to the lights and darks and the textures . When an artist considers the working out of these factors, he is considering PATTERN. Pattern is to tonal areas as placement is to line work.
Following his outlining of the Five P’s, Loomis advocates for the drawing of thumbnails, where the elements which he has given us are to be worked out over the course of multiple sketches.
He is also quick to state that these Five Elements are not the only elements needed for good drawing. How does one learn these additional elements of good drawing?
Do not worry dear reader, Andrew Loomis brings them into our aquaintence in the following section.