We Add a Little of Ourselves to our Art

I’m drawing a winter scene of an old barn in a field of snow with weeds and snow in the foreground from a photo. The scene caught my eye because of the sense of depth it had as I saw it from the window of our car so I took a photo of it. The feeling of the photo is not what I saw at all … it’s very gray and dismal looking. I drew it anyway and an interesting thing happened. The drawing is much closer to the reality I saw than it is to the reality the photo captured … and I think I know why. I have drawn all the pretty and interesting things in the drawing just a fraction larger and enhanced their beauty just a bit. I didn’t do that on purpose; I just sort of watched the drawing turn out better than the photo and was able to figure out why.

I think this is the way it works. We see the beauty of a scene (or anything) more clearly and more vividly than the other parts. And the interesting thing is that we can still see those things even in a photo. So we are not mere copy machines. We add ourselves to our art with our eyes and with our hands as we draw. A little part of ourselves goes out into the world with each piece of art we make.

I’ve known that for a long time … but it was interesting to see it happening so clearly this time.

About Carol

I'm an artist, author, and teaching artist. I've been writing about drawing on this website since 1999 and drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I love teaching others how to draw too.
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2 Responses to We Add a Little of Ourselves to our Art

  1. Christie Hughes says:

    Carol… I think another reason your drawing turned out better than you thought is because you were THERE and YOU took the picture. When I draw from photos I’ve taken versus photos I did not take, I have a lot more information to work with because the scene is personal to me…I was there and saw it with my own eyes. The essence of that moment has been instilled in me and I’m able to bring that to my drawing…just like you.

    • Carol says:

      Yes, you’re right Christie. You sort of absorb the atmosphere of the scene if you’re right there in it.

      And I think it’s interesting that you can pull all that emotion and sense of a place out of photos that aren’t all that great. Well, my photos aren’t all that great anyway. :)

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