Modelers are told repeatedly to observe the prototype, yet just what exactly are we supposed to see?

We’ve settled for simplistic questions and shallow answers. The first step out of this rut of mediocrity is learning to ask better questions. Questions that move beyond form into context and substance.

Examples of contextual questions might include:

Why am I intrigued by this subject/scene? What do I want to say about it and, more fundamentally, do I have anything to say at all?

Do I really understand what I’m looking at?

What are the essential elements?

Are there critical relationships between elements in the scene?

How might I represent this on the layout in a way that speaks to the truth of the subject?

Such open-ended questions are in stark contrast to the usual ones asked about basic dimensions or color. Those questions have their place but the answers to questions of context go deeper and require more thought than an easy focus on surface impressions. Few ever pursue this because we haven’t been taught how to or why it even matters; preferring instead to remain as spectators seeking escapist fun rather than students in a lifelong pursuit of understanding.