Drawing: The Art of Seeing is the name of the basic drawing class I teach for the City of Lakewood. I thought it a funny name at first, but realized that to draw or paint effectively is really a function of seeing properly. So many times I’ve witnessed a beginning student try to draw an object in front of them and they wind up drawing what they think they are seeing, not what the object actually looks like. This is because we all have pre-conceived notions of what items look like. And, I’ve read, the average adult has the drawing abilities of a 9 year old. So a flower turns out to be a circle with symmetrical petals on a straight stalk, a cat becomes a circle with triangle ears and so on. And now I know why my husband’s simple attempts at conveying an idea in Pictionary are usually more effective than my detailed efforts!
With all this emphasis on proper observation, a quick walk in the park can turn into an enthusiastic photo session when the flowers are in bloom and digital cameras make snapping away easy. On a recent trip to Vancouver, BC to see my son, he took us to Queen Elizabeth Park, where gorgeous tulips stood in rows and rhododendron blossoms sparkled with water droplets from the recent rain.
Overcast skies softened shadows – a photographer’s ideal lighting. Of course I had to take multiple shots of everything, close-ups of the rhodies with the light diffused through the petals, long shots of the city framed by white flowering bushes,
shots from ground level, multiple photos from different angles – everything looking to me like a potential painting. That’s the artist’s curse, you see with an artist’s eye – how the lights hits a leaf, how the colors change within a petal, how a tree casts an interesting shadow, and feel the need to capture all these observations on paper, canvas or with a photo.
I must say my family is pretty understanding with my obsession, and even wait for me to catch up to them on the pathway in the park. At least they’re taking time to smell the roses while I photograph them!