ART-Improving by Seeing

One doesn’t have to study art for very long before you learn that there are what masters call the 4 pillars of art, especially if you are learning to paint.  They are: color, shape, value and edges.  All very important.  However, there is one more thing that keeps coming up in every text I read or class I attend. So much so, I think it ought to be referred to as a 5th pillar.  That is the art of seeing.  Cautions abound that before you can hope to master any of the 4 pillars, you must be able to see. See shape, see color, see perspective, see value and see transitions in value. The real question becomes, how do you learn to see better. Most art teachers say to get out side, observe and draw from life.

Armed with all of this advice, I decided to enroll in a sketching class. These days the popular term is Urban Sketching.  The particular class I selected was Seattle artist Stephanie Bowers’ Good Bones. A class focussing on understanding perspective when sketching. You can see Stephanie’s work at her blog as well as her classes at

Over the the 2 and 1/2 days in Stephanie’s class, held at Seattle’s Pike Place Market, I understood that I had made the right choice.  The structured approach to the process of sketching and coloring the chosen view, pushed me to focus on what I was looking at.  I began to understand how to look at the positional and size relationships between various features of the scene as well as the differences in values in front of me.  I know the more that I sketch on my travels, I will get better at seeing which I hope will show up in my studio art as well.  If you want to get out and draw more, you might try Stephanie’s class. Here are a few pics of the class and Stephanie’s demo sketch inside the King Street Station in Seattle


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