I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen.
-Frederick Franke, The Zen of Seeing
This is one of my favorite quotes about drawing by an artist because it speaks directly to my own experience as an artist. Drawing is visual revelation in action. We "look" at things all the time, but do we really "see" them. Consider this, can you recall exactly what a loved one or co-worker you saw a few hours ago was wearing? We look at people all the time, but do we really see them?
The exuberance of Nature in Summertime is dazzling to the eye and heart. It is easy to be distracted by the new freedom within our personal schedule. In our haste to relax and look at more, we snap a quick picture for memories, and for future reference in the studio. We tell ourselves as artists, we will draw it later...when I have time. But, what do we really remember? Do we really revisit those reference photos in the studio? If we do, what of the vitality of the subject do we bring to the page?
Think about it. How many times were you so pleased by what you drew in the field? Many, many, I am guessing. And then how many times we you disappointed by the results of a studio sketch, seeming accurate, but lifeless?
For me, drawing in situ is the ideal way to to continue learning to see. So this week, I encourage you, just draw what is right in front of you and really see it.
This week's sketch examples are two such drawings. The first was drawn on Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina while I was hiking with friends. It was an amazing forest filled with trees like the one here covered with lichen and ferns. Now it is true that my friends did hike more than me and got to see more spectacular views that I missed, but I would not trade my hour with this tree for those other experiences. Sometimes as artists we must weigh the quality vs. quantity of seeing. The other sketch of flowers I did while waiting for a friend at a bus stop at Stanford University. I don't know the name of the flowers, but their form and the graceful line of their vine I will not forget and it certainly passed the time beautifully!