Getting Started

We know what we see, but we don't always know how we know what we see. When we look out the window, how do we know how far away a particular tree is? Or, how do we know how steep a hill is? And, how do we distinguish one texture from another without ever touching them? We know from experience... experience based on a lifetime of interpreting specific visual clues. If an artist knows what these clues are and how to use them, the illusions he or she creates will be very convincing.

Our visual perception of reality is a rather complex phenomenon. However, it can be separated into relatively few concepts that, once learned, afford the artist a much greater understanding of what is seen and what is to be depicted.

Just as writers must learn to organize their thoughts into words, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, artists benefit from learning the language of form, color, texture, shadow, image, and composition to better organize and communicate their thoughts.

By reading this guide and doing the exercises at the end of each chapter, you will learn the perceptual clues our eyes and minds use to interpret the surfaces, textures, sizes, forms, and spatial relationships of all things in the world around us, and how to use these clues to communicate your perceptions and imaginings to others through drawing and painting.

There are many rules in this guide, yet they represent only some of the options available to the artist and should not be interpreted as either exhaustive or absolute. Rather, the artist can and should go wherever imagination leads.

In this guide I present my method of drawing; there are many others, and you will evolve your own. But until you do, I will lend you mine.

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