If I close my eyes and get quiet I can conjure up an image of my deceased grandmother. I can see her clear as day in my mind's eye. But can I draw a picture of her from memory? No! Why is that? There are those who can draw from memory. Personally, I believe they have a bit of a photographic memory to be able to do so. However, that said, I can draw some hand gestures from "memory". I've drawn the same hand gesture gazillions of times in my quest to get hands right. The end result is that I can draw a basic hand gesture from memory.
But is that the same thing? I don't think so. I think the hand drawing is a response to hours of practice. Perhaps I am drawing from memory. And does it really matter? Not really. But I often wonder why it is that I can remember an image of my grandmother, yet I can't seem to draw her. I remember her hands. I remember as a girl asking her why they were so wrinkly with their paper thin skin. I think I remember the FEEL of them the most. The dry softness. It is also said that our other senses can help us remember...things like smells or music. I think so; as I think about the rose scented hand lotion my grandmother used, her hands get clearer.
But I am not sure if we really draw from memory. When I draw, I focus on what is front of me- what I SEE, not what I REMEMBER or IMAGINE. I draw what I SEE. So isn't that in direct conflict with the idea of drawing from memory?
Degas lost much of his eyesight in his later years. Many of his later sketches were drawn from memory as he just could not see much anymore. So I guess he was drawing what he imagined he was seeing as he watched the ballerinas stretch at the bar or the horses running the race. I don't know the answer here. Just thinking out loud... what do you think?