Monday, February 16, 2015

Seeing and the Art of Drawing

Edgar Degas, Dancer Adjusting Her Shoe

In this article I've included drawings from a few of my favorite artists that inspire me. For me these artist have managed to elevate the everyday through their active observation.   

Edgar Degas
This is the first in a series of articles I'll be writing over the course of this year. Whether an artist or an art lover I hope to encourage you to explore the art of drawing and actively engage with your surroundings. 

Art and the elements of art aren't magic. The magic of drawing or painting is in how the artist has honed their skills, including their powers of observation. When I look at a favorite artists work I am fascinated and want to unlock their secrets. But it's not magic. 

Drawing is learning to see, to construct, to lay a solid foundation for whatever comes after. Every day we look and we see, but are we really seeing?  Our vision becomes rote and we respond to the symbols we know. Only when something out of the ordinary crosses our path do we stop and contemplate what we see.

Lorenzo di Credi
A car, a tree, a person... become symbols. We recognize them from different viewpoints and conditions. Shape recognition allows us to move faster in our daily lives.

Drawing and painting take you out of the rote mind set. To paint or draw requires a slower place. It requires people to gaze, to ponder and appreciate. Inspiration can then take over. Drawing becomes a synchronicity between the elements of art and visual thought.

Art is a communication process similar to talking. In drawing or painting you use charcoal, or paint as your tool instead of words. 

Visually speaking to communicate what wants to be said, we need to revert to a time when we explored everything. A time before we put names to everything and explored less. Before a tree became a brown stick with a green ball on top.

Jean Antoine Watteau
Most never develop their artistic skills beyond this point. If they do they usually begin somewhere in the middle of the learning process, pick up a paintbrush and move forward.

I too began my artistic journey in the middle, of the learning process with a paintbrush. However, I soon became frustrated with my lack of growth and ability to communicate. I wanted to say more, say it better and say it easier. 

So where is a good starting point? Until the 1900's ateliers or art workshops began with drawing. Students spent years perfecting this skill before painting or sculpture. In order to "say more" I decided to learn to draw and establish a stronger foundation to my work. Drawing is to an artist as the skeleton is to our body.

Jean Antoine Watteau

All of the great Impressionist were classically trained in the arts before creating their ground breaking work. As with the Impressionists it's easier to "break" the rules when you know them.

So how do we become a more active viewer? Slow your pace and learn to engage with our surroundings. It takes time to learn to communicate in an artistic manner.

Giambattista Tiepolo

In the meantime what do you do?  Your skills will continue to grow.  All the time invested in developing your skills will help you grow in your artistic endeavors. The key is improve your technique and elevate the everyday.

Thanks for joining me and please send me your comments.  I'd love hear your ideas, questions or input. Please leave responses in the comments section below or on Facebook. If you like this article please feel free to share this post with your friends or on Facebook. 

Rembrandt Harmenszoon Van Rijn

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Edgar Degas (French, 1834-1917)  Dancer Adjusting Her Shoe, 1885.  Charcoal and Pastel on paper Collection of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Bequest of Mr. and Mrs. Hugo N. Dixon

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