The longer I paint, the more I find myself observing and soaking up my surroundings. There is a quiet cafe in my neighborhood that provides me the chance to just observe life as it passes by. Last week, I took my drawing class there. They naturally assumed that they would be drawing. While they did some quick gesture sketches, they rarely had a pen/pencil in hand. We watched, absorbed and generally discussed what we saw. One exercise I had them do was to stand for 3 minutes and just look. They assumed that they would have to come back and sketch what they saw. Instead, I simply asked them to describe what they saw in one word. Many came back with trees, lady walking a dog, buildings. They were so focused on things that they missed the feeling of just standing & allowing themselves to observe the overall scene in front of them. Anybody can do a painting or drawing of trees or buildings but if you can invoke a feeling then you will have a more successful piece of art. About 20 minutes later, I had them do it again. This time they were more descriptive. Hustle, streaming light, patterns. Naturally students are concerned about the actual objects or subject matter but to become an artist one must place their on stamp on the scene before them. Learning to see as an artist is a necessary tool for your toolbox but one often overlooked. So take time this week without a brush, pencil or camera and just observe. It's become one of my best tools.
Click here to see the first oil sketch of my series "Mornings on Green Street". They are the result of my observations from my favorite cafe.