A Popular Misconception….

Many people, maybe even most people come to an art class with one very fixed idea. It is so common, so universal, and so difficult for a tutor to get past, that often it isn’t seen as a problem at all.

What is it?

It is the idea that “good” drawing means that not only is it instantly recognizable as something we know – a landscape, a person, an apple, a vase of flowers – but it must look as accurately similar to the real thing as possible.

“Just like a photograph!” is the highest accolade, and students will spend time looking carefully at other people’s work to see whether it is better or worse than their own. ESPECIALLY if it is done with a sharp HB pencil on white paper, or a brush with only 3 hairs!

Now there is nothing in the world wrong with good draughtsmanship. Observational drawing from life (meaning real, actual people or objects ) is excellent training, it teaches us to really see something. It has been an important part of Western Art for a very long time.

And personally I love it, I am good at it, and I would never discourage anybody from working in this way.

But it’s not the only way to do things!!!

For instance ….my own work, especially the Japanese-inspired still life paintings, never have a traditional arrangement with perspective, shadows, proportion and perfect elipses as a priority. Instead, pieces of fabric, embroidery, mats and tables are up on their edges, teapots and bowls and vases are painted from a side elevation where we can’t see inside them.

This allows me to focus on design, composition, balance and a whole list of aspects of an image often forgotten if your priority is photographic realism at all costs!

In short, a different view of the whole subject can really open up possibilities  !!



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