Drawing on Love

“. . . in fact, the enjoyment of the sketcher from the contemplation of nature is a thing which to another is almost incomprehensible. If a person who had no taste for drawing were at once to be endowed with both the taste and power, he would feel, on looking out upon nature, almost like a blind man who had just received his sight.”                                                                         – John Ruskin

Jean Drawing, ca. 1901, Pierre Auguste Renoir
Jean Drawing by Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1901.

To paint well, we must learn to see well. And, one of the best and surest ways to learn to see is to draw from life. Drawing is the beginning. Drawing requires one-pointed focus and concentration. When we concentrate intently, we are rewiring our brains in that task. We now know that the brain gradually makes new neuronal connections in the visual and motor cortex as we draw. These new connections, in turn, make it possible for us to not only see better, but also to manipulate our pencil or charcoal more accurately. It is a positive feedback loop which activates the same pleasure centers in the brain which light up when we are looking at a picture of someone or something we love. The more we look, the more we see, and the more we love what we see. This has benefits for all areas of our lives. When it becomes a habit, incorporated into each day – (think of carrying a sketchbook all the time) – we begin to see and think of the world in terms of beautiful shape, form, color and line.

We live in an amazing age when it is as easy as the tap of the finger to record where we are or what we are eating for dinner and send it out for the world to see. This requires little of us and so returns little to us. Drawing requires some effort but the payoff returns us to a state of meditation and reflection that connects us to nature and calms the mind.

Betty Edwards writes in her iconic 1979 book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, “. . . draw every day. Draw anything – an ashtray, a half-eaten apple, a person, a twig. . . . In a way, art is like athletics:  if you don’t practice, the visual sense quickly gets flabby and out of shape. The purpose of drawing is not to put lines down on paper any more than the purpose of jogging is to get somewhere. You must exercise your vision without caring overly much about the products of your practice. . . . In your daily drawing sessions, the desired goal should be to see ever more deeply.”

Join us on The Artist’s Road. Members have access to more than 500 enlightening articles, interviews with top artists, step-by-step demonstrations and discounts in the unique Artist’s Road Store.

–John and Ann

Related Posts:


Drawing Blog
John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

About John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

John Hulsey and his wife, Ann Trusty created the website, The Artist's Road - Painting the World's Beautiful Places.  The Artist's Road inspires with practical art tips and painting techniques for the traveling artist, video painting tutorials and demonstrations, workshop resources, artist profiles and interviews and remarkable painting locations.  The Artist's Road is an artist community for oil, watercolor and pastel artists.  Articles cover intriguing art travel experiences artists have had while painting the world's beautiful places. "I believe I must speak through my art, for the preservation of Nature and the natural landscape from which I take my inspiration and living." John Hulsey is an accomplished artist, author and teacher who has been working professionally for over thirty years. In addition to producing new work for exhibition and teaching workshops, Mr. Hulsey continues to write educational articles about painting for national art magazines, including Watercolor magazine and American Artist Magazine. He has been selected as a "Master Painter of the United States" by International Artist Magazine where his work was previously chosen to be included in the top ten of their international landscape painting competition. He was awarded residencies at Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. "I strive in my art to celebrate the mysteries of Nature - the fleeting light on the landscape, the unimaginable diversity of creatures, the beauty of each leaf and flower." Ann Trusty  is an accomplished third generation artist whose work embodies the natural world and is created through direct observation and translation of her subjects into her paintings. She has found inspiration in the dancing light across the water of the Hudson River (where she had a studio for ten years), as well as the big sky and waving tall grasses of the open plains of the Midwest (her current home). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, France and Turkey in both museum and gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed favorably by the New York Times.