Drawn to Draw: Turn Seeing Into Something More Fascinating

Drawn to the Sun

Drawn to the Sun

Have you ever watched a seabird appear to change colors from white to aqua as it dives toward the ocean or turn to gold at sunset?  Of course the bird doesn’t change but the reflected light does. One way to appreciate life more fully is by learning “how” to look, since beauty and interesting effects of light are all around.

Most of us think “drawing is hard” and are never taught or motivated enough to move beyond stick figures. Many people don’t know that drawing is not an inborn ability but a skill that anyone can learn in a short time with a little practice. The simple exercises in Drawing on The Right Side of The Brain can give anyone enough skill with a pencil to increase his or her appreciation of the world.

“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand,” taught the philosopher Xun Zi. 不闻不若闻之,闻之不若见之,见之不若知之,知之不若行之;学至于行之而止矣。

“Do to understand” is where drawing comes in – Drawing is just applied seeing. Try sketching a person’s face to reveal and observe features and expressions in ways you’ve never seen before. Try sketching a landscape to see details of the ground that are hidden from most people and really get to see the subtleties of clouds for the first time. Try to draw the view from your window at different times of day, or in various weather conditions.

Even if your drawing isn’t very good, you will begin to notice things differently.  These activities open the shades to a window that lets you see the world as an artist. With new appreciation for nuances  your seeing will be transformed into something more fascinating.



  1. Somewhere along the way I decided that drawing is only for the gifted, like yourself. You’re one of several who’ve recommended “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” & now that you link it to improving perspective, I see a great reason to actually try this! Thank You!

    • Hi Carol,
      Glad you will give it a try! I should say the exercises are relatively easy but I found you have to actually do them and not just read about them to learn the new skill.

      at a party last night, I ran into several people who gave me positive feedback about the blog in general – it was nice to hear one person described it as a breath of fresh air that she looks forward to on Fridays, and we all talked about this post too.

      A very talented and experienced painter agreed that the D.R.S.B book is a great way to learn to draw. Another person said she wanted to learn to draw, started the exercises in this book and stopped because she was happy with her own way of perceiving her world and she didn’t want a new way of seeing things that could be a distraction. I had not thought about his before but think you can shift into and out of this new mode of perception at will.

      good luck with your drawing and thanks again for posting Carol!

  2. It’s a very good book and a good recommendation, David. I have it and also her other book ‘Drawing on the artist within’ which is also good.

    I think people are afraid to approach art in any way other than drawing something directly and a lot of people have been frightened off from having had bad experiences in school.

    There’s also the added dimension I think that has to do with ‘body memory’ in that once the hand and eye combination become used to doing something, some of the apprehension that the consciousness experiences, just fades away. Like learning T’ai Chi – the body knows what to do even if the mind forgets.
    Val recently posted..Part two- blogging thoughts and thoughts about bloggingMy Profile

  3. Especially as an artist, thanks for sharing your insights Val !
    It’s good that you pointed out that many people were unfortunately discouraged from drawing at a young age. I remember Edwards writing about this too. At a certain stage children want to draw with more realism but they and their teachers don’t realize that to get to the next stage they instruction is needed. Without instruction (or encouragement) many give up trying.

    Body memory as you said is important too. With practice drawing becomes second nature and the person holding the pencil stops fearing the process and becomes comfortable. I appreciate your comments – David

  4. Although I am by no means an artist, I did draw quite a bit in high school. It does force you to see things a bit differently. I think a sketch actually highlights details you don’t necessarily see when looking at the real thing or a photo.
    Melinda recently posted..Spa Day Adventures and the Need for Bath SkiesMy Profile

  5. I laugh at your drawings all the time! – and if you don’t know Melinda yet, that is her intent.
    She has a unique perspective and puts a very funny spin on things!

    A recent post at her blog “Finding the Humor” http://www.findingthehumor.com/yep-thats-me/sticky-precision/ ) has a funny rendering of the map of a parking lot and the aftermath of her foot stepping in gum – Much funnier the way she puts it
    thanks Melinda!

    • I’m improving in stick-figure-ology (I want credit for that new technical term) which I don’t believe they teach in any art class…except maybe Kindergarten. I think my perspective is different than what you are talking about. ha ha
      Melinda recently posted..Sticky PrecisionMy Profile

  6. Interesting post–love your assertion that “Drawing is just applied seeing.” May have to quote that one. 🙂

  7. Hi Jodi, thanks for commenting – I don’t know if I’m the first to every say this but it’s my thought and please share it with others – good luck with your painting!

  8. Nice take on it. I used to draw when i was young, but i gave it up from utter lack of talent. My drawings were causing visual pain to people close to me, i was forced to make a hard decision.
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  9. Very great analogy. Perhaps many people would be inspired on this. I hope to see more works frm you.