This weeks post is a bit different – I’m getting back to my Fine Art roots with an art tutorial! A quick series of 4 drawing exercises to help you begin to draw.
I have wanted to do this for ages and decided that as October sees the Campaign for Drawing organise The Big Draw (with events all over the world to encourage people to draw) this was the perfect time to get around to it!. The first thing people usually say to me when they hear I studied Fine Art is ‘ooh you must be very good at drawing!’ Well, I’m not. I actually find drawing really difficult, and much prefer to paint or take photographs. But I CAN draw. In fact everyone can.
This little tutorial is aimed at people who think they can’t draw; drawing for the terrified if you will. You are not going have drawn a masterpiece by the end of this, but hopefully you will be little more confident at the thought of picking up a pencil.
You Will Need:
-Some paper, plain ol’ white printer paper will work, but some thicker drawing paper is even better
-A pencil. Doesn’t matter what grade.
-A white crayon or old candle
-Some watercolour paints or coloured ink
-Paintbrush, nothing too small, a large round or ‘mop’ brush is ideal.
-A mug or cup
*Try to resist the temptation to read all the steps in advance or to skip steps. Just trust me. You don’t have to show anyone what you do, no one is going to mark or grade your work, okay? Good.*
1.Put the mug in front of you (it can contain tea or coffee at this point, just make sure your drink up by step 4!) Take a piece of paper and a pencil. Sign your name on the page. Anywhere on will do.
Did you copy where I placed mine or did you rebel and go top left or in the centre? It doesn’t matter, the main goal was to get started, to put pencil to paper and get stop it being an intimidating blank sheet.
2.Set a timer (your phone, watch or kitchen timer) to 1 minute. Now using the same piece of paper and your pencil draw the mug – you have a minute, GO!
Take a look at your drawing, and then look at the mug. Does what you drew look like a mug? Does it look like that particular mug in front of you? If you answered yes to the first question and no to the second, that’s ok. Your brain is trying to help out and convince you to draw a generic mug from memory, rather than to try to replicate what you see before you.
3. Put another piece of paper in front of you and reset the timer, again for 1 minute. Holding your pencil in your dominant hand and the mug in the other, close your eyes. Feel the curves and shapes of the mug and start to replicate these with your pencil. You can open your eyes briefly at the start to make sure you are drawing on the paper not the table, but try to not open them until the minute is up.
4.Ok, you probably have a page of disconnected scribbles like me. It might not look it, but what you have drawn is a far more accurate representation of the mug that you did last time. By using touch rather than sight, you had to concentrate on the actual object and by not looking at the pencil lines, you stopped your brain from worrying if is ‘looked right’. This technique is called blind contour drawing, and I have to admit, that I really love the drawings made by this method.
5.Put the mug back in front of you, take a fresh sheet of paper and set the timer for 1 minute 30 seconds. Now this time, you an keep your eyes open but only look at the mug, no peeking at your paper! Try to slowly follow the lines of the mug, matching the movements of your eyes with pencil lines on the paper. Take your time, one and half minutes will feel like ages! GO!
How was it this time? How does your drawing relate to the mug sat in front of you? No matter how many times I do this exercise, my lines at the top never meet up, even though the rest of it does!
6. For the final exercise grab another sheet of paper (some of the thicker cartridge type if you have it), a white wax crayon or an old candle. You don’t have to set a timer for this one, but if you would rather the time limit, I suggest no more than 3 minutes. Use the candle or white crayon instead of a pencil to draw the mug. Yep, you can’t really see the lines, that’s the point. If you are feeling especially confident, you may even try adding in more detail or highlights. Try to use all of the things we have learnt in the previous steps to help you, and try to spend the same amount of time (if not more) looking at the mug itself, rather than your drawing of it.
7.Now to reveal your drawing, load some paint or ink onto your brush and brush over the area where the wax is. If you are feeling fancy, maybe use a darker colour where the shadows fall.
What do you think? You might not be ready for the Royal Academy Show just yet, but hopefully you feel happier about the whole idea of learning to draw. It really is a case of practice. If you want to learn more about Big Draw events head to their website and I recommend Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and The Creative License as great books to get you started.