When you are faced with a challenging subject, always look for the basic geometric forms contained in the objects you are painting. It doesn’t matter if you are painting a figure, an animal or an object, they are all comprised of basic geometric forms. Train your eye to look for them.Once you develop the ability to reduce your subjects down to their simplest forms, drawing them accurately and confidently will become much easier. So how can a figure or a landscape be compared to a geometric form? Think of the trunk of the body as a cylinder with smaller cylinders that are connected to it with spherical joints. Look at a mannequin to understand this concept. The head is like a cube with planes for each of its sides that are carved out by light. As for geometric forms in the landscape, the still life above could just as easily be an urban landscape of towering skyscrapers next to a small flat building.
After you’ve developed the skill of seeing shapes, the next thing to concentrate on is value. Compare the relationships of the values on each of the planes of the geometric form. Is the transition from dark to light gradual or hard edged? How do those forms separate from the background to come forward or to recede into it? Constantly compare the relationships by asking yourself “is it darker, or is it lighter”.
Lastly, be sure to incorporate gesture into your work by drawing with a brush or other flat edged implement instead of always relying on a pencil. Get used to the idea of blocking in form rather than outlining, it will help you to achieve a bolder, more confident look in your work.
All of the above are simple concepts but it takes a great deal of practice for them to become part of your natural way of seeing and making marks. There are no short cuts to understanding concepts, practice is the only way to get there.