Practice Learning How to See

  • Make a viewfinder.
    Cut a window in a piece of matboard. Look closely at the subject, whether it’s a still life setup or a landscape or something undefined.
  • Find a subject that interests you.
    Look at it for an entire minute. Write down or draw a picture of three things that come to mind. This exercise will help you verify what is dominant about the subject, so you won’t become lost in details.
  • Don’t leave the house.
    There’s so much subject matter right in your own home! Use the viewfinder to allow you a more perceptive look at what’s there. From battered iron skillets to white sheets—everything takes on more interest if you look closely.

    Learn more about Mary Todd Beam’s approach to art in the article “In Search of Beauty” in The Artist’s Magazine‘s Jan/Feb 2007 issue.

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