Description is a weakness in my fiction. My understanding is that the first priority in fiction is to tell the story. Setting does this by providing props and indicating character mindsets, either externally (clothes; home decor decisions; behavior), or internally (how their mood colors the scene; what memories the scene triggers). However, this understanding doesn't make it into my writing. I paint scenes in broad strokes, and if I get two characters talking, I often forget to keep up with what they're doing while they're talking, which I think I would manage better if I were more description-minded. I think this ties back to how I read novels.
When I'm reading, I'm much less thorough in descriptive sections than I am in dialogue and action sections. Okay, let's get the atmosphere over with (if I identify that the section is for atmosphere at all); I already know the main character is scared, now I want to know what the bad guy is going to do. Or, I don't care what kind of fabric the princess's dress is made of, where it came from, or even what color it is! Is she going to even let him propose to her, let alone accept it? I grab the details necessary to understand the scene and forget the rest. I'll fill in the blanks anyway, so it doesn't matter if there are a few more.
I've been to a couple writing websites with articles on description. What I usually find is instructions to insert more words (albeit, more specific words) into a paragraph. What it looks like is directions on how to be more descriptive for description's sake. This makes sense since the article's purpose is to teach description for the sake of teaching description, but it does little for me as someone who wants to advance my story. Even if I need to slow the pace, I want to do it in a way that moves things forward rather than feels artificially stilting.
So I'm taking a different tack. Instead of asking how to be more descriptive, I'm asking if any of you description-minded folks can identify viewpoints or practices, both in and outside of your writing, that contribute to your descriptive ability. Specifically, I'm hoping that if I can raise my appreciation of description, I will be better prepared to pick up the words and skills I need to use it.