I was hurrying across the shopping centre this morning when a painting stopped me. It was a print. A generic composition of an urban scene. You’ve seen it. A street disappears into the horizon, lined with lovingly water-coloured buildings.
The scene itself was forgettable. But I was engrossed. I located the vanishing point and traced perspective lines along the rooftops and windows. I was counting gradients, absorbing the contrasts.
I was, I realised, entirely focused on the mechanics. I was trying to figure out how it was constructed. Looking past its impact and into the raw execution. This is a new one for me.
I’ve been reading and watching a lot on sketching and drawing recently. But even as my scribbles have improved somewhat, my whole approach has apparently, drastically, changed. I think about it more. I consider the process.
I’ve been frustrated at my slow progress. Even as I manically draw box figures and practice laying down values. But while my eye, dexterity and muscle memory aren’t there, I have come a long way. My perspective has changed.
It’s really easy to be caught up with the ending and ignore the journey. Resultism, I think it’s called. “Lifelong learning” is steeped in credentialism and “if you learn X you can finally do Y”. But it’s often these little changes in perspective that stick with you.
I studied economics in uni and can barely remember any of the models. But I regularly employ concepts like opportunity cost and marginalism. Learning, processing, radically changed how I think and approach subjects.
Maybe I’ll never be able to properly shade a sketch into appearing three dimensional. But I can see the value in trying to. Lifelong learning could just be about luxuriating in these tiny changes in perspective.