How Artists See

A friend recently asked me if, as a painter, I see differently. I stared at his face and thought about it… “Yes.” Since drawing and painting are about shifting perception, it makes sense that artists will literally look at the world differently. Thousands of hours spent drawing rewires the brain, training it to seek different kinds of information from the visual world. Even when I’m not painting, my mind is finding relationships, colors, shapes and proportions. During a conversation, I’ll be making broad generalizations about patterns and structures in your face. Hopefully, I’ll also be listening to you. I made this illustration from a photo by my friend Liz Phung. The lines indicate some of the special relationships I watch for: angles, latitudes, planes, and connections. I also tried to sample colors to illustrate how I observe them, but it’s not a great match. The way the mind interprets color is pretty mysterious and has alot to do with the artist's materials. I was astonished by how much less color variety the camera found. By digitally sampling areas, I found none of the greens, violets, and blue-grays I usually find in the face. The differences between yellows and pinks in the face also flatten out considerably. Artists see differently from cameras, too, but that's another discussion.
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3 Responses to How Artists See

  1. I love the way you pulled together all of the facial dimensions with their colors, et al. You really *DO* see faces in a different manner; and that mathematical proportioning that you are subconsciously computing really stands out in this cool visual.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention How Artists See | RYAN FINNERTY --

  3. Hi,
    I’m writing a blog post about “how artists see”. Can I quote you (as written above)? I would include a link to your blog as well.

    Many thanks,
    Eileen Slovak, author

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