See Know and Paint Notes
One of the hardest concepts to understand is how to really see. Objects do not look like we think they do. In my mind, I know what an elephant looks like but in reality, I have no idea. I would need to see the elephant or know the subject thoroughly to paint or draw it correctly. The same goes for even simple objects. Recently I spent an afternoon trying to draw a gooseneck lamp properly. It took me quite some time to get it right,because of the perspective angle.
I confess to being quite weak in perspective. I really have to work at it, and I’m sure you have noticed this flaw in my paintings. Some of you know that I am legally blind in my right eye. I can see light and large shapes but would be quite handicapped, unable to drive or read if I were to lose my left eye. In fact, I have to cheat the machine to get my driver’s lisence. It really only effects my visual perspective and periferal vision for changing lanes and so forth. I am very careful to map out my route when I drive, and to stay in the middle or right lane for most of my driving, so that I have few lane changes. I’ve driven all over the South without accident, so knock on wood for that.
In reality this visual handicap skews how I see the world as a painter and I know that I will never be top notch, but it doesn’t really bother me because I paint as I view the world. I like to think that it gives my work a unique quality, or so I tell myself. :>)
One of the things we must train ourselves to do is to look at objects in a new way, without the bias that we associate with it. In other words water is no longer water, clouds are no longer clouds, a tree is no longer a tree and so forth. We must separate our preconceived notion of what an object looks like and proceed beyond that visual icon in our mind, to the facts at hand. What are the major shapes, value patterns, color, negative space around the object? Then we begin to see it as it really is.
I find the very best way to practice this is without paper/pencil or paint/canvas. The best way for me is actual observation. I take the time to analyse objects one after another. I will analyse a tree,while sitting at the bank drive in, a cowboy wearing a cowboy hat in a western on TV, the chair across the room in my studio, breaking them down one by one figuring out how they are constructed. It has become automatic for me in everything I see.
This analysis is stage one for me in anything I want to draw or paint. In stage two, I might do a composition thumbnail,a value map of the scene or object in a small pencil sketch, and then proceed to a number of studies with time permitting. The initial analysis is the most important step for me. How else can I understand the subject?
If you are a beginning artist, learn to break down objects into shape, value and perspective in order to see them properly. It will help you turn 3 D objects into 2 D paintings and drawings.
Ripe Tomatoes Sliced ( Using a variety is nice )
4 fresh chopped basil leaves
1/2 cup Dukes mayo
3 T EVOO
2 T Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp mustard
2 T honey
Mix it all up and pour over the tomatoes before serving.