To look is to see

I came across this quote recently and thought I would share it:

“And I always said, ‘The teaching of drawing is the teaching of looking.’ A lot of people don’t look very hard.”

-David Hockney

I’ve taken several art classes over the years, and every teacher has emphasized the importance of the still life. Fruit, plants, chairs… I can’t tell you how many inanimate objects I’ve drawn, arranged in various positions and from different points of view. The task is always the same.

Focus on the negative space. Draw the shapes. Don’t worry about getting it exactly right. Look at the shadows. Look at the light.

But as an impatient teenager who desperately wanted perfection, I was too caught up in the details. I sketched hard outlines, hoping that my drawings would be unbelievably lifelike, but I was left with lines that lacked the grace of my visions. They were heavy and clumsy and not what I wanted.

Senior year of high school was a little better, but I still hadn’t grasped how to draw with ease. It wasn’t until college where, without strict instruction, I was able to focus on my love for art, for drawing, and I began to understand what it actually meant to look. I figured out that getting it perfect wasn’t the point of drawing.

I began to see proportion and shadows and the proverbial negative space. My lines became more fluid. The contrast came more easily. My drawings became something I was proud of.

Quick sketch from senior year of high school (left), senior year of college (right)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s