On Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending an ART PD session that focused on a topic I was keen to learn more about: observational drawing.
Our visual arts program is very much about NOTICING. For example, we have started really noticing how artists use the various elements of design (like line, shape, etc) to create a mood/feeling/message. (This will lead us towards a sophisticated and complex analyses of artistic works. See the visual arts page for more details!)
On the flipside, we, as artists, need to start noticing our own choices around the elements of design (in other words, become more self aware of how we use them).
This involves developing a more conscious 'artist's eye'.
Nothing helps develop that artistic eye quite like observational drawing.
In my drawing examples here, you will see how I first drew the person sitting across from me as something like a cartoon. I was looking at her, but not really picking up the finer details.
In the second example, I had to draw her by looking really closely...and I wasn't allowed to peek at what my hand was doing! I was just to pick a point, and let my pencil follow where my eyes went...
In the third example, I was asked to draw the person across from me again, but I needed to go slowly and, while I could peek at what I was doing, I had to mostly keep my eyes on my subject...
The third example is the one that is more specific, more finely detailed, less cartoony, and more authentic.
Each session took ten minutes. So I went from drawing #1 to #3 in about half an hour.
Observational drawings help build our 'seeing' and 'noticing' muscles. They are like scales for musicians...the more you do, the better you get. You don't have to do a lot of them, but if you do them consistently, over time, your ability to notice will improve!
It can also be very relaxing. :)
Needless to say, once our sketchbooks arrive, we will be doing some observational drawing in our class.