How to Draw

It sounds too simple.

You pick up a pencil (or pen), you look at something, you draw.  The best things to draw at first come from nature.  The reason is simple.  We are parts of nature ourselves.  Whenever we look closely at the natural world, we rediscover something of the inner workings of our own souls.

The drawing already exists inside your mind.  Whether you realize it or not, you have preconceived ideas about what things look like.  And then when you observe the thing anew, you also notice some features before others.  There’s an order in your awareness that lies hidden until you begin to draw. Your attention is drawn to particular features in an order that corresponds to your feelings.

Beauty in particular is a teacher.  When we find something beautiful, our attention lingers over it.  And it’s the drawing out of our thoughts, their suspension over time, that reveals the structure of a thing.

A drawing can be very direct and simple.  You can describe the contours of the object to yourself with a line.  This idea of the contour being a line is something we take for granted, yet it’s a remarkable fact about thought.  There is no actual “line” there, only the contrasts between light and dark, only color patches.  The idea of line is tied both to what we already know about a thing’s shape and also to one’s description of this shape as something that passes through a pen over the passage of time.

I wrote something about this topic on Art Writing Bold Drawing, too.  You can find it here.