Observational skills are one of the most important things an artist can develop. When I experience things not going right, if I’m copying from a photo, the first thing I can do is use those skills to try and see where I’m going wrong. There are different exercises I can do as an artist which will help to hone and develop those skills. Here are some wise words on this subject from painter Gabriel Boray.
“Every moment you spend developing your memory is worth hours of painting.”!
Gabriel has a wonderful series of memory exercises, one of which I shall share with you below. Here are some ideas you might try.
You begin by selecting half a dozen paintings from different accomplished painters. Choose ones that you don't necessarily know very well.
Then draw a series of rectangles or squares in your art journal, the same relative proportions as your chosen paintings.
Once you have done this, glance at one of the paintings, just a glance, not trying to remember specific things and then, close your eyes and let the image float there in your mind.
In the rectangles or squares, put a few marks that suggest the essence of the composition. A few lines or shapes. Which were the dominant elements that stood out for you? No detail is required at this time.
As you can see, this is very simplistic. I have to confess that I had to look at the painting a couple of times to get even this much information to retain in my head so I could draw. And as you can see it is far from accurate. I have lines going up which should be going down and so on.
My challenge for you this week is to do at least five of these memory drawings and see how you go. I can see that I could certainly do with a lot more practice in this area - how about you?
NEXT WEEK: What elements of a composition are important?