Learning to see


I was never considered to be “good at art” as a child, and gave up on drawing quite early. By the time I crawled from the maw of secondary education, I was quite (regretfully) certain that I couldn’t draw.

One day, on a whim, I asked my partner to help me to “learn to draw”. Fortunately, he understood that people don’t really need to learn to draw at all – they just need to learn to see.

Drawing is about really noticing the shapes, colours and textures that are in front of you. Your mental preconceptions about what something “ought to look like” generally get in the way of getting things down on paper.

By learning to see, I learned to do basic pencil portraits in only six drawings – the ones in the gallery above. There were no intermediate steps. (This kind of experience isn’t uncommon – check out Betty Edwards’ gallery if you don’t believe me!)

I went on to do two more portraits – this and this – both of which I’m still slightly amazed by. However, I find this kind of drawing pretty laborious and stressful, and I haven’t felt the need to do any more since.