An early instructor told me my drawing skills were good, but that I wasn’t “seeing”. It took me a long time to understand her meaning.
Observing people in their environments and translating that image is a skill developed over a lifetime. I understand how people interact with others and with their surroundings, how a warm sunny place will make a person happily sit for a while; then distill this scene into its nuanced component shapes, colors, values and gestures.
I now realize that truly ‘seeing’ is not literal; to ‘see’ is multi-sensory. Even though I can faithfully — even beautifully — render a subject, that painting will not be complete until I can ‘touch’ the skin or fur of my subject, until I can ‘smell’ the air around them, when I can ‘hear’ what is going on in the scene — and when my audience can too. I strive to ‘see’ the scene so that every individual viewing my artwork can feel it’s emotion as if it were their own.