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Sunday, September 04, 2011

So ... What did you?

In describing the keys to becoming better at drawing, especially drawing from life, one of my illustration teachers often falls back on the phrase, "You have to become more sensitive. "

I love that reminder. However sensitive we think we are, we can be more so, improving what we notice so as to represent it on the page.

And indeed, two of the blessings of an art-school education are that if we're doing it right, we become more sensitive, and we also begin to see things in ways that are both subtlely and radically different than before. Color class makes you notice the difference between maroon and magenta, or purple and violet. You delight in combinations of hues. Art history makes you think about lower-case art ("I draw because I love to draw") and upper-case Art ("I draw because I have something to say about the world").

What am I learning in art school? The same thing, though in a different way, that journalism taught me: Remember to keep toggling between big and small, to not get stuck on the forest or lost in the trees. Remember to notice, and -- for me -- to record the noticing.

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