Everyone has things that they know more about in a tactile sense. I can draw people, cats, Maltese farmhouses and a few others things reasonably well from imagination, but they don’t look ‘real’. They don’t have the subtle qualities of light and form unless I draw them from life. Even using photographs can be tricky (although tempting), as they don’t have that three dimensional real-life dynamism. Drawing from imagination can only bring up symbols stored in your visual memory. If you don’t replace your childish symbols with more sophisticated studies of the world as it really is, those symbols will not change.
Most people can draw one thing well. It will be something that they know, that they have a lot of sensory information about. Maybe they use it, touch it or smell it every day. It’s probably something they like, a feature of their hobby or pastime. A golfer, for example, could draw a pretty accurate number nine iron from memory – a chef might draw a good saucepan, or a cleaver. When we invest more than just superficial ‘looking’ into a subject it is more deeply seen and understood. It engages more than simply sight; we have a physical, visceral feeling for it too.
This is the great gift of art, and why it can enrich our life. By practicing drawing everyday objects we begin to notice all sorts of subtle things that we would not have noticed otherwise. The more deeply we can focus on just copying exactly what is there in front of us we will begin to notice more and more in the ‘ordinary’ objects around us.
This is true on both a figurative and conceptual level. We might never notice the way colours reflect differently in china and metal until we see it in a painting. Or try painting it ourselves. The messages in abstract art, installations and video art etc also confront us with new and sometimes shocking ways of seeing ourselves and life around us.
One of the basic functions of art, and artists, is to notice things that others don’t.
Every time we work creatively, we are helping to breathe new life into the world. Even if we are faithfully copying an old master, or singing someone else’s song, or playing a great piece of music, our own nuance will be there, making it our own. Our skills grow every time we practice, and it is the tiny steps that move us onward.
I love to paint - and draw - and help others to discover their creative side too.....
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