To the world around you that is! The power of observation is yet another critical element in your visual development. Observational studies are what I am going to focus on for this post. Every ambitious artist or designer seeks to be able to draw cars out of their head without any effort. However, how does that really happen? Definitely not overnight, a week, or 30 days….well…maybe in 30 days you will see a fair amount of improvement if you are committed.
The point is this…if you want to draw cars on your own, refrain from trying to learn too much at once. That is one of the biggest mistakes people make. They feel that if they have access to limitless information and books, they will somehow transform themselves into an expert. This is really going to tie into my previous article about “How the Brain Interprets Form.” If you did not watch the video or read the post, catch it here.
Your brain works in a layered approach, acquiring knowledge and building on that foundation of knowledge. Part of that knowledge base you are trying to build is inclusive of your “visual vocabulary.” So what is visual vocabulary? Visual vocabulary is a set of shapes and forms that you are able to recall at any time from memory and replicate it on paper with your preferred medium. It can be a simple curved surface, a sphere, or a cube. Whatever the shape may be, you are able to communicate that shape on paper, without the aid of a reference.
Ever sit there and wonder why you can’t think of ANYTHING to draw when you see a blank page? You are not alone! That too is due in part of the lack of a solid mental visual vocabulary which is your “database” of shapes and forms in your head that you have rationalized.
So the next question is this…how do you increase your visual vocabulary? How do you get your brain to understand complex shapes and forms?
OBSERVATION. Simply observe the world around you. This takes more focus than you know. Yet some people don’t do it enough or feel guilty for looking at a photo. If done correctly, observation is one of the quickest ways to create your own artwork without having to have the pressure of drawing up something on your own or having to learn perspective techniques quickly. To start off, you must try to setup a grid for your reference picture and establish the same grid spacing for your intended artwork. You can use a larger scale as long as you make sure that the grid is made up of squares.
The key to this approach is to be able to fill in the shapes and values within each “square.” This requires a totally different approach in thinking and you must divorce the idea of relating to shapes and objects as what they are. Meaning…don’t think of a wheel or tire as a wheel or a tree as a collection of leaves and branches. Think of them as just a collection of shape, value, color, and texture. This will immediately remove the intimidation factor of trying to draw the very object you are trying to replicate. In addition to this, the exercise should be conducted by squinting your eyes so as to remove all the details from the picture. This will force your brain to see the image for what it is…value changes, color, and texture.
As you practice and continue with this exercise, the magic that is realized will be your ability to indicate details rather than labor over them. By all means…the above “speed” painting is not perfect…but the purpose is not perfection of the car, but to recognize the collective “shapes” that make the entire image. As you practice…you will find that you start to recognize these patterns and shapes more quickly. (Looks like I need some more practice ) Hope you enjoyed this post and please be sure to provide feedback!
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