Mini Lesson #10: Develop Selective Sight
I often think my kids have selective hearing. They hear what they want to hear and somehow block out what seems unimportant to them…like when I ask them to clean up their rooms, do their chores, help with dinner. Hmmm.
But Selective Sight is actually highly desirable for Drawing Your Life in a sketchbook. An ability to pick and choose what one wants to draw from the very rich-in-detail Feast around us, serves you well when you go to draw or paint it. How does one arrive at the above drawing from the view I was looking at beside our driveway below:
The best way to sort through it all is to ask yourself a simple question:
“What am I captivated by?” or phrased another way: “What specifically about the view in front of me, makes me want to draw or paint?”
*What “drew” me (love that!) out to my driveway was the gorgeous spring day, the dappling light, the lovely greens, the fresh air. I brought out my sketchbook and two pens. When I sat down and took a moment to survey the feast before me, I began to be captivated by that tree… the little knots, the bark pattern, the shape of the branches. So THAT is what I drew. And I chose to merely hint at the rest of the trees’ surroundings, so that those things would not appear more important than my ONE desire of capturing that tree. I did think briefly about using my smaller fineliner (o1) pen to describe the neighbors driveways, cars, bushes, houses, etc. But decided not to, in favor of keeping the tree as the focus.
*Now, I could create numerous drawings and paintings from this one view!! I could state that I’m captivated by the play of light and dark and thus render these shapes to highlight that aspect of the view, as I did in the above drawing. Remember the “Sculpt Your World” Mini Lesson and how squinting will help you to see!! This will heighten the contrast between the light and dark shapes making it easier for you to draw/paint them on your paper.
*OR, I could decide that what captivates me is how the tree forms a frame around the neighbors homes and cars in the background. So I could choose lines or paint that allow me to highlight that aspect! See how very different these three drawings are!! I just needed to take a moment to ask myself what captivated me and to consider how BEST to describe that on paper in lines/paint or whathaveyou.
I’m sure there are many more ways to draw this very scene…it all depends on what captivates you! It depends on your ability to select ONLY those things which will highlight YOUR VISION. And it depends on you deeming the rest to be UNIMPORTANT to your purpose. If you try to describe EVERYTHING, you’ll end up with a mess. Of course, it will probably be a glorious mess, but…you may feel that your drawing doesn’t capture the thing you were originally “drawn” to.
Be picky! Be selective! Block out all the extraneous stuff except for the ONE THING that captures you. And get that down in your sketchbook! If many things captivate you about a particular scene, then set out to make several drawings or paintings of that scene which highlight the different aspects that you love!
*Another way to be SELECTIVE as you draw is to pretend your eyes are a camera lens…either ZOOM IN or PAN AWAY.
I sat down on the sidewalk in front of a neighbor’s house to draw these gorgeous tulips. The man who owns this house is a true gardener and has created an enchanting garden all around his home. It takes my breath away every time I walk by. So when I drew up a chair to draw, I asked myself what inspired me, and the first thing in my head was, certainly the tulips, but also the awesome structure in the center of them. So I visually PANNED AWAY to be able to draw the central garden structure, surrounded by the tulips, with the home in the background.
After that, I really wanted to just concentrate on those gorgeous tulips. So I ZOOMED IN on JUST the tulips. As I drew, I could revel in their shapes and their swaying lines. You might like to use a viewfinder for the purpose of helping you zoom in or pan away or just to crop out unwanted areas of the scene in front of you. You can even use your hands placed just so, to create this viewfinder.
*I also applied this to adding COLOR to these drawings. Take a look at how I selectively chose the colors, AND where I placed the color in these drawings. I used the same question from above to guide me in adding color. Selective Sight helps you all around!!
*This can also be applied to your APPROACH. For instance, I decide up front which approach I’m going to use. If I’m going to be making a contour drawing. I stick to it. I try not to shift into a gesture drawing mid-stream. I don’t flip into making a value drawing half-way through. Select one approach, and stick with it for the entire drawing. After you’ve made a drawing with one approach, switch and draw the SAME THING using a different approach, if you’d like. I am now having loads of fun making expressive drawings of how it feels to be outside, how “green” feels, how I experience a breeze. It is so much fun!! Here’s a drawing of the above scene using the Improvisational approach to express the many beautiful “greens”…
*You can also apply your Selective Sight to which ART MATERIALS you use. You might decide to only use pen. Or only use watercolor. Or just a pen and some watercolor crayons. Or collage. Or just ink and a reed pen. Or…
Being selective about WHAT you want to draw and HOW you’re going to go about it FREES you up to concentrate more fully and not be pulled in a zillion directions. It also makes for clearer drawings, fewer jumbly messes.
My husband is fond of saying: “If you try to say everything, you end up saying nothing.” This is SO true in art!! In any given drawing, BE SELECTIVE, major on ONE THING, whether it be your approach, your viewpoint, your medium, and/or color choices.
A Blessing: May you be selectively choosy this week as you ask yourself what captivates you about the Feast in front of you. May your eyes wear artistic blinders to all the unnecessary stuff & fluff. May you hone your ability to focus, pick, select, choose what matters most to you as you capture your life in images and words.
***Something to think about:
Take a few minutes to consider how this applies to your life in general. We all deal with “overwhelm” in some fashion or form…remember this post? Developing selective sight is helpful to us as we navigate where our energies need to go, what next to put our hand to, and whether or not we need to bother with x, y, or z. Maybe my kids’ selective hearing isn’t such a bad thing after all…as long as they clean up their rooms once in a while.
“Limitations can actually be FREEING!” -moi.
***Access all Mini Lessons for Drawing Your Life at the top of the home page on my blog! (OR just click the highlighted words in blue!)