Learning to draw and sketch: Seeing the world

I decided to start learning to draw. Bit random? Not entirely, although I didn’t appreciate drawing at all in art lesson during secondary school. It didn’t come naturally, it was frustrating and at the time I’d much prefer focus on maths and science. Art was for a time, wasted energy.

There are a few reasons for finally starting to draw:

  1. Richard Feynman (physicist) decided to learn to paint from an artist friend in exchange for teaching the artist science – quite a nice exchange of skills
  2. There’s something noble, inspiring and exemplary about the ancient Greek philosophers, they were interested in all manner of things. Subjects weren’t segregated like they are now, which has effectively given individuals misguided permission to say things like “oh, I’m not a Maths person I like Literature”, for example
  3. Drawing is one of those mysterious skills I’ve fancied learning for a while, presumed I’d probably find relaxing and would slow the pace of life down
  4. Finally, in this world where every piece of information or skill can be gotten at through the internet with a quick search or video tutorials, I thought I should be developing my qualities, otherwise it’s wasted time

So, where’s the first place you go when you want to learn something? For me it’s YouTube. And there were loads of great tutorials.

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It’s quite a magical experience turning a blank sheet of paper into a scene with 3D objects and depth. Firstly, there’s only white. Then, sketch simple 2D forms. Then, build up shading to create a 3D effect. Later I learned about creating depth and recently came across another shading technique called cross hatching – I love the effect it produces!

I’m not sure what to expect from this new hobby. So far it’s only provided joy and I hope to become a more rounded person in some way with these types of soft skills. I don’t expect some foreseen benefit – I’m just enjoying the simple experience. And that’s enough for me.

I’ve also found it incredibly rewarding to sketch the beautiful architecture I’ve seen in Italy (recently finished reading Alain de Botton’s The Architecture of Happiness, a brilliant read which helps the newcomer pin down why we find some buildings beautiful and others not). Taking the time to stop, look and think about something for 30 minutes enables greater appreciation, versus the mere 10 second gaze of amazement. I look back through my sketch book and the memory blends into the fore, like a visual diary.


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