Drawing is Seeing
In my early teens (that's quite a few years ago if you have to ask) back when I took my first steps into the wonderful world of art, I had in my possession a danish art book with a title going something like this: "Drawing is Seeing". Being young and impatient I never quite understood the essence of what the title was trying to pass along. Had I only read the book rather than just looking at the drawings inside, and had I only understood what the author was trying to tell me, I might have been a more skilled artist today. Later it turned out not to be such a mystery as I (wisened by age) realized what the book was actually trying to teach me. Ironically, given it's title, it never opened my eyes back then, a mistake that needn't be repeated by hopeful new artists. I therefore strongly recommend that you read this short tutorial as it contains one of the most important elements of being a serious and ambitious artist.
Picture It
Image Source/Copyright: SXC.hu Take a look at the picture of the young girl on the right. In just a fraction of a second your mind will process and interpret the information of the picture. After just glancing at it you could most likely point out and recognize the face in the picture amongst thousands of other faces with ease. All by memory. That's because your mind has processed countless of different faces throughout your life and is trained and able to distinguish between each and every one of them.
So having done this many times before you've become naturally more skilled at doing it. Here is the problem. The human mind is lazy. It takes shortcuts, ignores heaps of details and remembers only what is necessary. If you wish to recreate a face (or anything else) using nothing but pencils and paper you have to reverse things.
Reverse It
Here is an example. If you're looking at a face the interpretation of that particular face happens automatically. You don't give it much deliberate thought. By this I mean you usually don't consciously analyze the face of the person at which you are looking. You merely look and conclude. If you wish to learn to draw faces or any other object you need to turn off the autopilot and start some serious analyzing. For instance take a real close look at the young girls face again. At first you might think you see everything there is to see but the more you look the more details will pop out. Color variations, shades, highlights, lines and so on.
A Few More Words
Although extremely simplified for this tutorial that is exactly what the book i mentioned earlier was trying to teach me. Train your eyes to see the many details that actually make out any object you might be studying. And don't be afraid to strain yourself a little just as you would solving a difficult equation or any other task demanding thought and concentration. In time you'll become increasingly efficient at doing it.
Wait, there's more!
And with that this short art lesson is almost over. Think of it as an important reminder that drawing and painting (for the most part anyways) is not just something you can or cannot. It requires intense study, especially if your aim is to rise above the level of the average artist. So my last advice? Go eyeball some objects and faces. Intensely.