One of the statements I frequently make to my students is that learning to draw is learning to see. This article explores the concept and also introduces my latest book, An Accurate Eye | Learn to Draw Better by Learning to See Better.
If you analyze the process of drawing you will conclude three things. Drawing requires the ability to see accurately, to control your pencil, and to remember the visual aspects of what you are trying to draw. Since these things work together they are not often studied separately. That is somewhat unfortunate, as well as being different from how one learns a complex skill in most other fields of study.
It is commonly understood that learning a skill is best done by parsing out the simpler skills which make up the larger whole. The same approach also applies to practicing a skill, whether previously mastered or not. The most obvious examples of this concept are learning to play an instrument, as well as many sports activities. Scales are practiced by all pianists. Baseball players do regular batting practice. And so on.
As outlined above, drawing is a composite skill. Therefore, practicing the parts should be as important as performing the whole. Practice is not performance. In our parlance, performance is drawing a cast, a portrait, or a figure. To succeed, you need to combine all three of the skills, and this is what you will do at just about any atelier, academy or art school.
My intent is not to change that, but to enhance it. In addition to your normal studies, why not also practice each discrete skill separately?
This is what I suggest that my own students do, as homework. Their first task is to improve their eye’s ability to accurately judge the visual aspects of what they are looking at – to accurately compare their drawing to their source. This skill is very important because an accurate eye is what determines when (and where) the hand and visual memory go astray.
To provide some direction I wrote a book.
An Accurate Eye | Learn to Draw Better by Learning to See Better provides the student and professional artist with over two-dozen practical exercises meant to improve your eye’s visual accuracy.
An Accurate Eye | Learn to Draw Better by Learning to See Better
is available now, as a $16 downloadable PDF from here.