How to Get Better at Drawing: Observation

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

As artists, we are all the time focused on improving and developing our artistic skills, so we practice more and take on many challenges, many of which are difficult and not particularly our favorite, but it's all about getting out of our comfort zones and pushing ourselves further, isn't?

Well, yes. But, I'm about to share with you something of an equal value, if not more, something actually that is going to influence your art and life.

Now, think with me. What does an artist actually do? They observe the world around them and attempt to replicate it on their canvas, yes?

We rely on lines, shapes, colors, etc. to represent form, rhythm, movement, mood, and so on. We're not drawing every single detail we observe, rather, we carefully select and capture those elements that remind the viewer of life or the subject matter we're portraying.

Remember, you're not a camera! You're an infinitely intelligent observer who can show their audience the things they can't see by themselves.

Now refer to the example below, and try to notice what the artist did here.

Did he paint everything with extreme detail?

Is every edge sharp and straight?

Look and try to analyze how this painting presents an array of objects that you can easily recognize before reading further.

Persian Street by Alvaro Castagnet

Alvaro Castagnet, the painter of this piece, is an expert at observation. He carefully merged shapes, blurred edges and sharpened others to produce this spectacular scene.

I highlighted two instances of merging, try to find examples of sharp and blurred edges or some more examples of merging.

Not everything has to be perfectly outlined and defined. Use that as a tool to highlight elements in your painting and to areas where you want to direct your viewer's attention.

Now go and pick up some work you like and try to analyze how that painting is reminding you of the subject its portraying.

One last piece of advice, learn to observe life. Always ask yourself why this appeals to you and this doesn't. Question your feelings towards the things you like. Why do you think, for example, you like flowers? Is it their color or scent you like, or is it the complexity of its shape, or something else?

Think of life and contemplate every object that you observe, and try to understand why exactly you feel such a way about it.

See you next time and remember - never give up!