Gotta keep up with the studies my friends :) Ive been pointed to some of the drawings of Erik Gist and felt they had a lot of quality in them that I would like to capture myself. Sooo I did some studies to investigate what I like about the way he interprets his figures hoping to add what ever I liked to my own method of drawing. This is like Jeet Kune Do in the concept that you try out different styles and techniques and absorb what is useful, add it to yourself and discarding what is not useful. My tutors and education encouraged me and my classmates to study other artists and I share that opinion that it is a great way to learn to draw.
We all have a arsenal of shapes in our memory to call upon to construct our artwork (a visual library). And the more we observe and use reference the informed our visual vocabulary will be. I don't believe we are a lesser artist if we do use reference and have to observe nature first because those observations will be with you all the time and stored in your head ready to be used for the next drawing you make. The less informed you are in your drawing the more you make assumptions of what something looks like (which makes us liars :P). Do not worry that reference will be a clutch to you, it will be a clutch if you let it dictate you rather than use it as... well... reference... a guideline. Just look at the artist Gil Elfgren's reference shots compared to his paintings. After lots of observation maybe you will find your drawings from memory without reference will get a boost. Let the reference inform you but not control you :)
Funny enough... when I was thinking about this post there were other blog posts talking about the same thing but they probably said it better than me so here are the links: Learning to Draw (Art Center) and Muddy Colors. Oh and a friend pointed me to this site full of arty podcasts: Paper Wings Podcast. I havent gotten round to giving it a listen myself but I thought I share this as I am sure it will be interesting to kind of people who visit here hehe. One final thing. I thought I'd start sharing with you the artist or influences of the day like I used to way back. For today I looked at Erik Gist's work of course and also those of Charles Gibson. He is another person I did some studies of (back in my first and second year of university) and I liked the way he draws noses which I have adopted myself :P