What is Observational Drawing?
Observational drawing is the act of drawing something (be it an object, building, person, or environment) whilst you are physically observing it. Not drawing from a picture of it, no, actually going outside and sitting down near it (or in it, in the case of an environment), and drawing it.
Why Observational Drawing?
Observational drawing causes the sketcher to actually look at the subject. I don’t mean what most people do on an ordinary day, a quick glance, I mean it actually makes you look at something properly.
This is much better than looking at an image of the subject that you want to draw, as it means that (especially on large objects, like vehicles and buildings), if there is a bit of detail that you cannot see properly, you can stand up and look at it, before sitting down in your original position and sketching it properly. If you’re looking at an image of the subject, you won’t necessarily be able to zoom in far enough to bring out the objects detail, and it will just end up as a vague smudge on the drawing.
Also, when sketching people and moving objects, it requires the sketcher to be able to draw speedily, as the object will pass in only a few seconds, and you need to be able to get down as much as possible. This cultivates an entirely new skill in the sketcher that someone who doesn’t do observational drawing might struggle with.