The Challenge of Drawing Perspective and Perfection

April 26, 2013

Filed in: Uncategorized

I am just going to say it, drawing the correct perspective and proportions is a pain in the butt! With that said, it is also a vital one to the artist if one is to master the skill of drawing to make things look the way they are. To a painter who works in realism, this is essential, to an abstract painter, not so much. Regardless of genre though, learning to sketch and improve your drawing skills is one of the first and best tools to add to your ‘tool box.’ 

As a kid, drawing came naturally to me. I didn’t become an artist until my mid 30’s, but the ability to see shapes and get a ‘likeness’ was something I at least wasn’t afraid of, so going forth into sketching was something I found fun, my only problem was, I taught myself to draw from pictures, not from real life. Place a photo in front of me and I can draw it lickety split. Place an object in front of me and I am dumbfounded, or at least I used to be. 

(This is my version of George Washington when I was in second grade, notice I received a B-! ) 
Seriously, who grades art? 

My brain really sees well in 2-D, but I so wanted to teach myself to use it in 3-D because I knew if I wanted my paintings to improve I needed to practice my drawing skills. A few months ago I drew my first still life, then I painted it, and I LOVED that process. It wasn’t that I loved the sketching per se, that was cool, but I loved that I gave myself permission not to seek perfection in the process, just to let the process be what it was, and learn from it. That is so difficult for beginning artists, they want to paint like the pictures they see in books, they want to paint like that NOW, but they struggle to understand that those paintings were birthed from often years of practice, practice, and more practice. 

This morning I began a sketch of the edge of my Golden paint box and one of my 4″ by 4″ collages. It was a simple sketch for the most part, but as soon as my pencil touched the page that voice in my head started saying, “Your doing it wrong.” That voice wasn’t the voice I needed to listen to. I needed to listen to the one that gently said, “Look at the line again Ardith, it is shorter and closer to the edge of the bottle. Find a reference point to make a marker, sketch from there.” Two voices, but one nudging me to quit and fail, the other nudging me to learn and progress. The artist must learn to silence the negative and turn up the volume of the ‘teaching voice.’ 

Although there are things I see that I could have changed, improved on, or spaced out differently, I am pleased with the sketch. It is a learning process, it is not perfect and I don’t expect that it ever will be. Yes, I could have sketched from the cropped photo you see here and gotten a much more accurate likeness, but I would have missed the point….to train my eye and brain to see things as they are, not as I think them to be. 

If you are new to sketching, new to art, or just learning to draw, be gentle on yourself. Turn off the voice of negativity, don’t compare your work to others, and learn to listen to the teacher voice that nudges you forward rather than back. I like to tell my beginning students that we all are on a bus ride together. Some are just getting on the bus at the first stop, others have been on a while, have gotten off a time a two to pick up new skills and gotten back on with ‘heavier luggage.” Other artists have ridden the journey many times, and picked up so many skills that their luggage got to be too heavy, so they bought themselves their own buses and started to pick up new artists to join them on their journey. Where you are on the journey is important, but the realization that we are all on it together is key!

If you really want to spend some time improving your drawing/sketching skills but don’t have access to classes Youtube is where you need to head. There are TONS of videos to teach you, but one of my first and favorites is by artist Larry Gluck, because he explains things so simply and is easy to follow. 

Look forward to seeing some of your sketches! 

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