What is introverted intuition: Visual Art & Ni (& Se) (& other functions too)

I need someone to connect the dots for me. I’m taking an art class and I had some assigned reading to complete. This thingy says, drawing (I’m assuming realistic art) has little to do with the mechanical function of. It’s all related to how we see something. Then I started to think about Blake’s article…introverted intuition…and I thought about that chair he uses as a teaching tool. Si is gonna see it as it is. Ni is gonna want a meaning, a why, a symbol. …um someone help me here. I was thinking that maybe some types have to work harder at or will always suck at realistic art because they need a symbol, a meaning. They cannot simply just draw something the way it is because they never see something the way it is. Hm? Huh? Eh? Ya?

Then, @Prax said this in response to Erika:

"Yeah, I think most people have “preconcieved” notions of what a chair is, for example. They imagine an ideal chair–perhaps a flat thing with four legs and a fence-like backing. They therefore get trapped drawing their ideal in their mind vs what is out there being seen by their very eyes.
This happens a lot with human faces. We take shortcuts. Thinking “okay, almond shape” and end up with some cartoonish thing even though we’re trying to make it “realistic” because the human eye is a lot more complex in shapes.
So I suppose some Si or Ni people get stuck on ideals or memory, instead of the Se present. Then again, being so present, makes it hard to “imagine” a something more, to create fantastical or original works. So art is often some kind of dialogue or oscillation between being present and being withdrawn.

For me, I generally draw without reference because I find it incredibly distracting to getting my “vision” down, even if it means that I mess up on anatomy lol. But I still need some real-world base to take from… so I end up in cycles of staring at art and tutorials and pictures without making anything (could be months), then go into some media-blackout and just make without reference, hoping that my intuition took in what it needed to make what I want."

Right, okay. Si is gonna look at a chair and give difinitions of that chair based on what it sees. Se just sees or touches or sniffs the chair. Ni questions the word chair and its meaning and or purpose, and the possibilities are endless. Ne throws the chair out the window? To see what happens?


HMMM… maybe…:
Si - remembers the chair. remembers the chair from their childhood. how is it different from this chair? all the physical chair nuances
Se - sees the chair, experiences chair in its natural chairness
Ni - why is there a chair? who made the chair for what purpose? why is sitting like a king better than kneeling like a subject. who decided this?
Ne - ch-air like a wooden air? the movie Up! was enjoyable. Oh, here’s a link to 99 Red Balloons

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Cool, thanks. :slight_smile:

:grinning:[quote=“Erika, post:142, topic:118”]
I’m taking an art class and I had some assigned reading to complete. This thingy says, drawing (I’m assuming realistic art) has little to do with the mechanical function of. It’s all related to how we see something.

Correct. This is often counterintuitive to newbies at drawing, who may think they need to improve their hand dexterity. Typical thought: “I can’t draw a straight line. I’ll never be good at drawing because I’m not dexterous enough.”

This isn’t what makes for great visual artists. Seeing is. And yes, it is learning to see that makes you improve as a visual artist, not how well you can move your hand, which will come as a natural byproduct of seeing. Your hand will begin to move in unison with your sight.

It is also typical for newbies at drawing to have no fucking idea how to draw what they see. They look at the thing or person they are drawing and look at what they put on the page and they feel a total disconnect. This is because, as @Prax said, of the mental representations we have of objects. We are not seeing the object as it appears, we are seeing it how it is represented, in our minds. And this mental representation is often left-brained in that it is associated with words and language. For example, when asked to draw a chair in front of us, the newbie will often unconsciously reference the mental representation of chair in their mind. This representation is often crude and utilitarian. In a nutshell, this mental representation of chair is basically Ti in nature. A chair is a place where a person sits that has 4 legs at 90 degree angles to each other placed under a square seat with a back of some sort that is more or less square or rectangular and at a 90 angle to the seat. Etc.

If you try to draw this, it is going to look relatively crude and simplistic compared to the particular chair that is in front of you. So, in learning to draw (and see), you have to forget that that chair in front of you is a chair and just learn to see what is there. Basically, this is shifting from left-brained perception to right-brained perception, which is non-verbal and spatial.

But, it is common for newbies, especially, very left-brained newbies at drawing to reconcile what they are seeing in front of them with their mental representations of objects.

It may even seem impossible to some people and they give up learning to draw at the outset because they despair at the crude drawing they are making compared to the inevitable visual richness and complexity of things in reality. How will I ever get there? How will I ever be able to draw all that stuff that I’m seeing. It’s impossible.

However, this brings me to your next point

So, I’ll just start with Ni since you brought it up first and is actually the most relevant function (with Se opposite) to this learning to see thingie. So, yeah, Se is realism in art, more or less. If a person just drew things exactly as they appeared with the utmost degree of realism, that would be Se in its purity (pretty much).

However, this is not Art. It is realism. It strives for the most accurate depiction of things as they appear in space. And it is necessary to develop this skill to some extent if you want to do visual art that has anything to do with the way things really appear in reality.

Ni, on the other hand, strives to depict things as they strike the subject. It’s like the echoes of Se (things, reality, objects) as they strike a subject (the artist, in this case).

Or Ni might throw out the whole external world altogether and draw what it sees (or senses) inside itself.

Whatever the case may be, Ni cares more for the subject and its experience rather than the external world. In essence, it is always expressing and depicting itself. Whether it’s drawing landscapes or chairs with bears or people or whatever, it is concerned with the self-sameness of those things. It does not care about any of them for their own sake. Se does. Se has no personal investment, no personal subjectivity in those things. It’s mode is to just note what is there in the most accurate way possible, which is simply to draw what is there. Which means to see what is there. Really see. Not name and then mentally file away as a distilled representation.

Ni also has to do with seeing just as much as Se. But, it’s sight is directed inward. And how do you depict this inward quality of things?

Well, it just so happens that there is a thing called gesture (or gestural) drawing that is the Ni method of drawing par excellence.

And I think it is usually taught to beginning art students as a matter of course. Because it is very important to learning how to draw in the way that a great artist would draw: quickly and essentially.

See, all great art is about getting to the essence of something. If an artist were merely to note in great detail all that is there, the picture that would result would be static and dead. There would be no voice, no perspective, no individuality to it. There would be no subject in it.

Anyway, I’m getting a bit high falutin, but I think what I’m trying to convey here is that realism in art is usually a much sought after and holy type of thing for people that want to draw but feel they can’t.

And yes, realism is an Se thing. Si is too, but Se is realism in the right-brained visual-spatial sense. Si is not visual-spatial and as such does not really have much savvy with realistic visual depiction in the way that Se does. I actually consider Si to be sort of anti-visual.

Ni is very visual but in the exact opposite manner to Se. It is the vision of self. It is essence of something.

Being able to depict this essence is the very thing that makes for great art. Because it is real. It is a felt thing. And if you can convey this feeling (through any artistic medium) your art will stand out. It will have an identity. A voice. Etc.

But, yeah, you do kinda need to pick up some realistic drawing skills too. As a baseline. You need to be able to depict what is there accurately (and see it) before you can start using that Ni to imbue that world of objects with your own essence. And that is always what Ni is doing. Which is why it is linked to narcissism (according to me). It is always looking for itself in objects or people.

So, for a person that is more Ni than Se, gesture drawing can be the key for that person to grasp drawing. Because it is done quickly and essentially.

Kimon Nicolaides, who I think is the originator of gestural drawing, says this about it:

“You should draw, not what the thing looks like, but what is doing.”

It’s inner action. How it strikes you. Is it circular? Is it bouncy? What does this thing do to you?

And then you start moving your hand around the page and drawing this feeling or sensation of its essence or inner action as you look at it.

Ni is very much about this inner action (or inner life) of things. It is a dynamic nuclear type thing. What is this thing essentially? Start drawing that.

And because Ni and Se are really two ends of the same axis, whether you start with the inner motion or gesture of this thing you are drawing or it’s externals, they are really the same thing. One will lead you to the other. And they are both real and accurate.

Hope that makes sense.

It’s a pretty non-verbal process. Has to do with seeing and beginning to shift from mental representations of objects to actual direct perception of them, either realistically or essentially. And really both, as the realistic and the essential tend to turn into each other at opposite ends of that axis.

Form follows function and function follows form. Whatever something truly is will be mirrored in the world of appearance.

First, thanks for creating a new thread! This is an interesting and deserving topic - I think.

Perhaps this is why easels are so important? It’s at level with your object. There is no transferring of angels and space in your mind. I’ve been drawing on a horizontal surface, and I think I need to rethink that. The class has some easels, so I’ll use one next time.

Ugh!! Ti chairs suck. And so do Ti boxes. Boxes was the first night and I almost cried. Kind of pathetic, but I was so frustrated. I kept thinking, it’s a box, it should be easy to draw. Simple lines that are parallel. It just depends on the space between them. Boxes was not as a “free” feeling I wanted to have. But I understand the importance of learning this. There are simple rules. And maybe some complex ones too. But one lesson builds upon another. It’s a process.

I’m not gonna quote one area because you sprinkled it throughout this response but, I totally agree with and like the idea that drawing is learning how to see. That’s impactful. It changes how you look at everything! The shadows, the light, the texture…it’s really cool.

Gestural drawing - wow! I really like this. There is movement. Literally and in the drawings. Fluidity. It seems like it’s less pressure too. Just go!

Not at all! That’s beautiful and true. Our eyes are different from each other’s. Our perspective. Our backgrounds. It’s really cool to see art infused with someone’s uniqueness.

Ya, but doesn’t empathy come from Ni?

Thank you for taking the time for this saucesome response. I’m really looking forward to seeing the world differently.

FYI (that’s one of your favorite acronyms, right?) I had to look up “high falutin”. No surprise. But, I thought you were talking about gluten. Maybe too much gluten in your body = high falutin. :yum: or maybe it has something to do with Putin? Dunno. Ya.

I agree with Blake, there needs to a small basis of classic skills.

You’re already taking an art class but if you’re looking to improve your technique quickly. I recommended Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and its corresponding exercise book.

The concept is to disengage your symbolic brain by tricking it with perspective. A couple of the exercises force you to draw images upside down. There’s also technique about looked at the spaces in which the object exist rather than the object.

Or The Natural Way to Draw.

Actually, Andrew Loomis has a lot of great books and they’re mostly free. He gets down to the proportion and methodology. But I really like his idea of rhythm.

this is interesting.

because the concept of learning a new language works very similarly too.

there are words that you can’t really pronounce using english alphatbets.
and there are words in english that other people have hard time pronouncing because they can’t get out their comfort zone.

idk exactly what function you have to use,
but to mimic another language, you have to just start all over, you can’t “translate” everything to learn a language.

it has to be immersed. completely.

like you can’t listen to a word, and go ‘oh, that word sounds like carrot’ or something.

you just gotta say the word exactly as someone said it, and NOT try to remember this word referencing to the word you know from former language.

like there is a letter ㄹ in Korean,
and students ask, "is this R? or L?"
it’s neither. you can’t translate it. you just have to know how ㄹ sounds like and that ㄹ has to become its own letter.

and ㄹ is not a letter. it’s a sound.

okay. quick lesson

let’s say ㄹ has a sound of something in between of R and L. rolling your tongue to create that slurred sound.

and there is ㅏ. ㅏ sounds like “ah” or “aa” it’s not drawn out. it’s short and brief. like “ah.”

so ㄹ + ㅏ = 라

so what sound does that make? “LAH”

wtf am i doing here.

love these recs, also want to recommend frederick franck’s books on drawing, eye-opening for this nonartist

a door to seeing & making visual art as beyond the visual-- something some of us understand innately & others among us need to relearn

Yay! Back from another art class. I got the teach to go into gestural drawing. We made him model for us! Hilarious. We did a ton of exercises. 5 min, 4, 3, 2, 1, and even 30 second drawings. It was so hard, but so fun. One of my favorite sketches of tonight was this 30 second one below. I love it because I feel like I got the general sense of his figure. He was standing on one leg, leaning over with his arms hanging-ish. It was so interesting. There is a guy in our class who is really talented and he really struggled with this practice because he wanted to detail out our teachers face. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat! There were a lot people who did a great job! I’m just proud of this one. I wonder…I think I shy away from looking at people’s faces. I bet this other dude stares at people, like psycho stare, but doesn’t even realize it. It’s interesting. I’m looking at things differently.

I like the shape of the negative spaces as well.

That is something that is so hard for me to conceptualize. It’s easy to look at it as a byproduct, but like actually working with the negative space first is so hard.

Good, now you’re doing gestural drawings. Glad you initiated that with the teacher.

And they’re fun aren’t they?

Yeah!! Thanks for bringing it up here! It was super fun. We all had a great time. It was really hard. Way harder than I thought. But I get the concept. I get the lines. The movement. The flow, yo.

I think its hard for many newbies at drawing to allow themselves to draw gesturally. Because they think the inroads into realistic-looking drawing is attempting to render everything they are seeing in perfect and excruciating detail. And this isn’t fun. Unless, you’re an Se type of some sort. Then, its not excruciating. It’s how you see.

And I think gestural drawing is the inroads into enjoying and getting drawing in an intuitive way. Which is equally, if not more important, for an artist to learn than realistic rendering of objects and such.

Especially, if you’re an introverted intuitive of some sort, which you (ENFJ) are.

The Ni (over Se) type needs to learn to grasp the basic gesture in what they are seeing. And nail it quick. Once they have that, they can build off of that basic essence. To approach it in the opposite way would be a lot more difficult and puzzling.

Gestural drawing teaches you to see in an instant what is most important about any given thing (or person etc) and quickly allow yourself to draw that rather than all the actual physical stuff going on. That’s Ni.

And you can’t Ni and Se at the same time. If you do Ni, you draw essence (gesture etc) and you ignore the actual (physical appearance) and if you do Se, you ignore anything but what is apparently there.

So, gesture drawing, me thinks, is the inroad into learning to draw (and enjoy it) for Ni types.

Because, basically, if you can’t find a way to enjoy what you are learning, then you aren’t likely to stick at it.

And that would be a shame. Because xNFJs can make some of the most striking visual artists the world has ever seen. But, they are often taught with incorrect methods and emphases for their functional strengths, which is basically Ni-Fe over Se.

I notice that realism in art has reached this apex to the degree that photorealism is worshiped as the highest achievement in art.

We live in the dumbest age, I swear.

Photorealism is the death of true art.

A youtube video I found interesting!

About “merging shapes” to funnel and capture the “essence” or mood of an image you’re trying to make rather than every explicit detail. More playing with Se-Ni axis!
“By showing less, I can communicate more.”

Great post from a while ago. I am glad I just stumbled across this as I’ve been trying to figure out how to draw a little and yeah i figured I would suck at it and I do but this is a good way for me to think about it.

It’s been helpful for me thinking about drawing my dreams instead of drawing real things. Probably this forces me see more internally or something. Also my dreams have lately had a Ni quality to them because some infj infiltrated my soul.