Monthly Archives: March 2016

Drawing A Review of How to Begin and How to Get Better

Drawing can be viewed as putting lines, shapes, values, and textures on a surface. Learning to draw as a skill is like learning to write and most of us remember that struggle, although cursive is becoming an extinct skill in many schools today. There are numerous terms relating to the graphic process of drawing: doodling, sketching, scribbling, etc., but this article will focus on the act of drawing as a process to translate a three-dimensional object(s) or setting with tools that make marks. This process is basic to most every form of art and design. Look around you. Every manmade object began as a drawing on a surface. Sketched as an idea, then drawn more accurately to better relay the vision, then maybe onto a drafting table or computer aided design (CAD) process for further refinements.

But let’s talk about drawing not only as an art form, something unheard of not that many years ago, but as a way to see. As beautifully as Cezanne or Ingres or David could draw, during their lifetime, drawing was considered a preliminary foundation for a portrait, still-life, or landscape painting. Today, their drawings can stand on their own as beautiful works of art. Their process of analyzing form and translating it into shapes, lines, values, and textures on paper with pencils, charcoal, chalk, and ink—with amazing vision—leave us with remarkable works to view and study. Occasionally, their drawings turned out by today’s standards stronger works of art than the resulting paintings.

Drawing is a process and should be approached as such. I would recommend that you never set out to “make a drawing”. Use drawing to analyze what you see. Gain control of your medium (graphite, charcoal, etc.) and use large paper. Draw using large muscle control before trying to use fine motor skills. That will come. Don’t worry about detail. That will come. Putting accurate details in a drawing that has poor form, no understanding of spatial relationships or negative space, and little comprehension of composition, is like decorating a cake made from adobe. Observe your subject (let’s assume it’s a life class with a nude model) and begin to draw in circular or elliptical strokes, rapidly capturing the torso, hips, upper then lower legs, arms, head—moving your hand almost constantly from part to part. This is gesture drawing. Capture the position and relationship of basic shapes very quickly. You should have a loose pattern of “scribbly” circles and ellipses of the whole body in just a minute, no more. Gesture drawing forces you to focus on basic forms and their relationship to each other. This is the basis of understanding form and its position in space. In undergrad school our drawing professor had us fill 18″x24″ newsprint pads—both sides of the paper—and using 8-10 pads in a 12-week class. We used willow and vine charcoal for these exercises and we understood the human form in space. Do this and you will as well.

Then, apply this approach to landscape, animal, and still-life drawing. Even portraits. We have a tendency to want to draw a “picture” with accurate detail. If you work toward that goal and are willing to work diligently with this and other exercises, you will be able to make a “picture” that has meaning, that is truthful, that is accurate.

Draw. Draw as much and as often as you can. Approach it as a way to see and to understand. An excellent book with accompanying workbook is Betty Edward’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Read it to understand, then do the exercises. You’ll be able to draw (or draw better) in eight weeks or less. You can find it on Amazon, or better yet, at quality art supply stores where you can select from a vast array of drawing supplies, pads, and papers.


Create More Energy for Painting

Making a good painting is hard work, and requires a lot of energy from the artist. Managing your energy while you paint is important because the more energy you have for making the brush marks, the better the painting will be. As you become fatigued it’s easy for the quality of your painting and your joy in the experience to diminish.

The loss of energy is usually in the details of how you set up to paint. The energy loss with any one mistake is small, but if you have several small losses, they can really add up, and the longer your painting session lasts, the worse the losses become.

Here are some considerations for the next time you get ready to paint :

1. Are you physically comfortable in your work space?

2. Are all of your tools within easy reach? If not, then before you settle in to paint, collect them so that you don’t have to fetch them as you need them. Then you can stay in the flow of painting.

3. Are your brushes and palette on your handed side? (If you’re right-handed, the materials should be on that side, and on the left side if you are left-handed.) If you’re reaching across your body to reach your brushes or palette, then you’re using up valuable energy every time you reach, and it’s a needless loss.

4. Where is your reference material in relation to your painting? The closer it is, the easier it will be to focus on the area you’re working on.

5. If you are working from life, then make sure that your reference material is easy to see, with little distraction between it and your painting. Pay attention to how you move your body and arms as you look from reference to painting, and then try to minimize it as much as possible. Make sure that your movements are comfortable and small. Every bit of energy you save can go into creating the best painting.

6. If you’re working at an easel, adjust it to work for you, and not against you. Your painting should be almost vertical. If your easel is leaning too far back, then you are wasting energy reaching in to paint on your canvas. Always be sure that you’re reaching your arm out even with or a bit below your shoulder. If you’re reaching above your shoulder, you’re losing a lot of energy and your arm will tire much more quickly than if you are working with proper body mechanics.

Examine your work space carefully, whether it is a full blown studio space or the kitchen table. Great artists work in lots of different situations, but one thing they all have in common is an energy efficient work space, and energy efficient working habits.

Art, An Underrated Bliss

Art, An Underrated Bliss‘Art’ has had an active presence for thousands of years in our lives. Long ago, when the civilization had just begun, and we humans were trying still to figure this world out, communication was a very big challenge. There were still no languages, but the need to express was very dire. In a situation like this, man formed his own way of communicating, and that was through ‘Art.’ There have been many cave paintings whose existence has given the right reasons for our anthropologists to believe that of the many methods of communication that we humans adopted, the primitive form of communication was signs and paintings. Art is the instinctive form of communication for anybody who wishes to communicate nonverbally.

If there is somebody who recognizes art for its true worth, it is children. Children have an innate ability to appreciate and enjoy Art. Every child is an artist. Art enables a creator in every child. When a child is given a paint brush and an empty canvas, he knows that the world is at his behest. Anything can be created and it is all in his hands. The most pleasing sight would be to actually see the joy on their faces once they finish their work of art.

This ability to express so openly and try anything new makes art the best choice of a hobby for anybody. Children lack the conditioning of an adult, so they don’t really question everything with a why and a how. If you just make the endeavor interesting enough, every child will accept it without any prejudice.

Art is also not just an alternative way of expressing. Art enables various other skills in a child too. Through art, a child picks up on creativity, cognitive skills, emotional intelligence etc. Art is a training ground for a child to overcome a lot of fears, and learn to accept a lot of aspects of life. Once the child enters an art school, it is rest assured that the child’s personality would undergo a strong and individualistic transformation with high positivity. Complicated aspects in personality like decision making can be easily taught to the child with something as simple as what color scheme to use in his painting.

“The principles of true art are not to portray, but to evoke” was a famous quote by Jerzy Kosinski, and true to his words, Art contributes so much more to the mind than canvas. An artist in the process of learning the art also learns visualization, creative thinking, problem-solving, self-motivation, alternative forms of expressions, and analytical skills. Art schools have programs designed in a way to actually address various personality developmental aspects. One way or another, the positives of opting to experience art are plenty and each one is more effective than the other.

Turning Drawing Goals into a Reality

How many times have your good intentions to draw failed? You buy a new book and become inspired by someone else’s journey. You visit an art store and beguiled by the shiny pencils and inviting paper, load up your shopping basket and leave the shop with your wallet lighter and a spring in your step – only to find that life gets in the way and before you know it, a month or two has passed and you haven’t even opened your sketchbook. Goal setting can seem a bit left-brained but we all need a kick-start every so often and if it gets us drawing does it matter?

Here are five steps to turning your drawing goals into a reality.

Five Steps to Turning Your Drawing Goals into a Reality

  1. Make a list of drawing goals and write them down (writing them down means you are more likely to stick to them).
  2. Be realistic (there’s no point in setting yourself up to fail)
  3. Make a date in your diary – ideally in one month, no later than in three – to review and revise your goals. It’s okay to change and let go of goals but do consciously and deliberately, rather than just letting them fade away in embarrassment. It’s natural that what we want now might be different to what we want in three months time.
  4. Share your goals with a friend (they can be a non-drawing person!). A ‘goal buddy’ can support you in your endeavours (and you can support them in theirs). Be accountable to each other as well as giving each other moral support and encouragement.
  5. For every goal you set, make a plan now about how you are going to achieve it. Be as specific as you can break things down into small manageable steps and write them down.

And finally…
Give yourself permission to start again… if your drawing has fallen by the wayside, so what. The sky won’t fall in. If it’s something you really want to do, just do it. Start now.