Your brain interferes when you draw. It tells you what ‘it’ wants you to draw instead of letting you draw what you see. So here are four ways to use your pencil to help you really see and draw what you see.
First some ground work: It helps to use a full length pencil and pretend you have a vertical glass window between you and your subject. Shut one eye (If both eyes remain open you will not be able to see your pencil and your subject at the same time) so that you can see your pencil at its full length visually in front of your subject. Hold your pencil as if it is pressed up against the imaginary window. Remember that you cannot push the pencil through the window.
Use your pencil to:
1. Measure proportions on your subject. Proportion means comparing one measurement with another. E.g. the width of the widest part of a vase compared with the height of the vase.
2. Check the alignment and direction of part of your subject by comparing it to a vertical or horizontal pencil. The angle against the pencil is easier to see.
3. Check angles of perspective. It is useful to treat your pencil as if it is the hour hand of a clock. We are so familiar with a clock face that even without the numbers or a minute hand you can easily tell the time with just the hour hand. Place the pencil visually along a line to be drawn. The centre of the clock is where two lines intersect. It is much easier to translate an angle when we know what ‘time’ it is visually.
4. Show you what textural marks to make. It is sometimes hard to find a mark that is descriptive of texture on your subject. Use the pencil to ‘draw’ in mid air on your imaginary window. Move your pencil as if tracing the texture underneath it. You’ll find that you make marks that match the direction and texture of the subject ‘underneath’ the pencil. That movement of the pencil in the air is the movement that you need to make on the paper.