There is only one right way to learn to draw and that is a perfectly natural way. It has nothing to do with artifice or technique. It has nothing to do with aesthetics or conception. It has only to do with the act of correct observation, and by that I mean physical contact with all sorts of objects through all the senses. (1941, p. XIII)
Nicolaides describes the job of the teacher as teaching students how to learn to draw instead of just how to draw. In this way, students will acquire problem-solving techniques in order to discover for themselves skills that are more meaningful and will create life-long learners. He presents the basic laws of art as being few but being the laws of nature. Nicoladies emphasizes constant effort, patience, practice, and daily drawing.
Correct observation through contour and gesture drawing is the first function presented by Nicolaides. He teaches contour drawing as touching the edge of a form while gesture, or scribble, drawing is feeling the movement. He stresses observation as not just seeing with the eyes, but learning to see correctly with other senses such as hearing, taste, smell, and touch. “If you attempt to rely on the eyes alone, they can sometimes actually mislead you” (Nicolaides, 1941, p. 6).
Drawings are completed in pencil, ink, and crayon but watercolors and oils are introduced briefly at the end of the book to lead into future painting. Although the human model is used most often throughout The Natural Way to Draw, any object may be used. The drawing experience is more significant than the subject being drawn. Along with the human figure, human anatomy, and specific facial features; drapery, light and shade, and color are also subjects studied.
An interesting method Nicolaides uses is memory drawing or quick studies. He claims all drawings are memory drawings in that the artist uses varying intervals of time to look at the model and then the drawing—memorizing what was seen. The exercises presented in memory drawing involve seeing the figure as a whole before drawing. Turning away from the model or subject also builds memory skills. Spending time on details is not presented until halfway through the course.
Nicolaides method is a natural approach through observation, hand-eye connection, and extensive daily drawing.