Monday, January 5, 2015

"Random Selection"


As a visual person, I have often wondered why two or more people can look at the same object and have a wide range of opposing reactions. Take for example the gas meter and construction site below:

Reactions to these photos might be mixed, ranging from "that thing is ugly!" to "so what?" Perhaps the only person who might think of the gas meter as a thing of beauty is the guy who designed it. How you think about something as mundane as gas meters or construction sites is largely dependent on your personal experience with them. Now let's look at each of them as a sketch:

Did your reaction change at all? Of course I am hoping that your reaction was a positive one. It reminds me of my favorite fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen called "The Ugly Duckling." When I chose to sketch this gas meter, I must have passed it a hundred times to and from picking up lunch, but one day something caught my eye. Did this gas meter suddenly become beautiful or interesting? Or was it always interesting but I had failed to see it before? According to Denis Dutton in his TED Talk "A Darwinian Theory of Beauty," he suggests that "beauty is an adaptive effect which we extend and intensify in the creation and enjoyment of works of art and entertainment."

How about these other boring or ugly scenes?

What would happen if, instead of walking up to a sketching location and pacing for a half hour (in search of the perfect subject to sketch), we just closed our eyes, spun around and sketched the first thing we saw when we opened our eyes? Regardless of its beauty or ugliness you have to sketch it. Imagine how that soiled plastic bag and paper coffee cup sitting in that murky puddle will look as a sketch by you? 

I would love to see the "swan" that comes out of your "ugly duckling."

The Ugly Duckling" (DanishDen grimme ælling) is a literary fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Andersen (1805 – 1875). The story tells of a homely little bird born in a barnyard who suffers abuse from the others around him until, much to his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all. 


  1. Wonderful post. From the first two photos I knew it would be great. Thanks, Wes.

    1. Thank you Lisa. In the art world, I often find humor in those who dismiss something because it is ugly to them and want everyone to know about it. A simple sketch turns everything around. Thanks for reading the post Lisa.

  2. You did it again Wes! Another great post with wonderful tips and advice! Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you Susan for checking out the blog. If you keep printing out these tips and tricks, you will have one of the best free how-to books in the world, huh?