“Take an art class, if you really want to learn how to see,” my photography professor once said. I’d always loved art class in high school, so I took him up on the challenge — and I’ve never looked back.
He was right. When you paint something, you have to study it. When you study a subject, it comes to life for you. When you’re tasked with re-creating what you see, your mind records it in a different way. You look at the lines and the form, the light and the shadow, the color and the expression. And you remember those details because you have to. The world will never look the same to you after you take an art class.
Here’s how you can get started at home. If you have art supplies, set yourself up as you normally do; if you don’t, grab a pencil and paper. Then, put something in front of you. Something as simple as a vase or a pear are great places to start. And just study it for a bit, then begin to re-create it on paper.
You will begin to notice details and the way the light hits the object. Where are the darkest and lightest parts? If you do this for 10 minutes or longer, I promise you you will look at everything closer that day. It will begin to affect how you notice the world. And whether you want to make art or not, it’s an exercise everyone can benefit from. Art, after all, is the study of observation. Happy seeing!
As always, I love to hear from you. Have you done this or something similar? Do you have your own stories of learning to see? The best conversations are on Facebook and Instagram, I’d love to hear from you!