Expand Your Vision

"We find only the world we look for".

- Henry Theoreau


What does this black blob look like?

As a painter, I was taught to see a bit differently. How can seeing differently help you? .

Beginning artists are trained to "mass" objects together. Have you guessed what the grouping to the above right is? One object should be the giveaway shape. See the answer below.

A. What does this appear to be to you?

A. What does this appear to be to you?


Did you see three pieces of fruit or something else?

Our brain fills in with what we are used to seeing or what we think about perhaps.



If you saw fruit, it was most likely the pear stem that gave it away.

Our brain fills in details when a small bit of information is given. With a few little facts our brain makes up the rest. As an teacher, I see how much beginning students need to improve their observation skills. The good news is we can improve and learn to draw. The better you can see what is in front of you, simplify it into shapes, the better artist you start to become.

Back to the three pieces of fruit on a table, the first more abstracted depiction is also called a **notan** which is a Japanese term for simple black and white shapes.

Would you have included the shadows if you were asked to draw these shapes? Most people would not have even noticed the shadows because their eyes are fixed on the positive objects - the pieces of fruit. Yet, these shadows play an important role when depicting a still life.

Learning to draw is valuable for anyone who wants to see more of what is in front of them. Have you ever been asked to find the milk in the fridge and it is right in front of your eyes but you didn’t see it? If you were asked to draw the contents of the fridge, you would have found it quickly. So what might you be missing that is in front of you at work? At home? At the store, on the street… etc.

Below is my “study” after making the notan “sketch”. A study is a depiction of that which the artist wants to capture figuring out the lines, shapes, composition, color, etc. before being committed to a larger “work of art”. If you are new to collecting art or don’t have a big budget but want original pieces, perhaps choose a study to begin with from an artist you love. Often studies contain colors and a freshness that is delicious.



In the above tiny "study" you can see where I ended up from the initial notan "sketch".

The professional artist may start with a small "sketch" or “gesture”

and then do a quick "study"

before attempting to start a "drawing or painting"

which will end up the final "work of art" because the professional knows that much

must be worked out to communicate effectively.

All boils down to…

what do you observe? What do you see?

We can think we see one thing but right in front of our face is another.

Check this video out to test your observation skills. Click here.

This holiday, look at the fruit on the table differently.

See what shadow shapes you see, what colors are in each piece of fruit (besides the color red in an apple, for example). How would you turn a bowl of fruit into one single shape? Mentally draw a contour line around the whole bowl outlining each bulge. Better yet, pull out a pencil and paper and try to do just that. Create a notan and see if someone can guess what it is. Observing is just step one. Then seeing angles is step two. Anyone can learn to draw. How far you go after that is up to you.

To learn more about drawing or painting classes, click here. Come to Greece with us and learn to improve your skill of observation.

"We find only the world we look for".

- Henry Theoreau

Look for beauty all around you.