Looking at something versus truly seeing what is front of you is a very important concept to artists.
The more you look, the more you see!
We as artists see much more that the average person. This is a tool that we have that we use on a constant basis to do our portrayals of the imagery we see.
This is such an important tool that it has been categorized. Let me explain. Artists use 9 values or increments of light to separate out the patterns or shapes of light that show up on the surface of an object. These values range from value 1 (white) going through the list to value 9 (black). The subconscious mind knows what the object is by the value of the shapes of light patterns that are visible on a surface. For an object to look three-dimensional it must show the subconscious mind all nine values of light. These patterns of light do take many different shapes depending on exactly what the object is…so you are never bored.
Drawing is the true basis of any artwork or portrayal of an object. The right values on the right shapes give you the image with its volume and its form. Color is simply the “beautiful dress” that the object wears.
I have included a portion of an unfinished watercolor where shapes of light have been drawn in pencil and some values of light (but in color) have been added. An Iris is a delicate flower and painting a petal requires many shapes of light and dark with the appropriate color to be able to see the light as translucent or create ripples and movement. When you know how to make use of the range of values it makes painting with any medium so much easier because you can think only of the decisions around painting instead of both the value and the color. Using color means you are thinking about warm vs. cool colors, opposing colors, and how to use them to give the right feeling and excitement to your work.
When you focus on the details there is a world of beauty to see. And after you have done this for a while your consciousness is expanded and you actually see so much more around you in your everyday life. You are entertained by your world by all you now see.