All posts by Rob Court

Founder and drawing coach at the Scribbles Institute, Rob helps adults and kids learn basic drawing skills for work, school, and enjoyment. He is the author of a number of how-to-draw books.

Getting to the Finish Line

After your first session or two with me it becomes clear—while spending hours practicing my block-sketch-draw method, we often find ourselves in a tortoise and hare race.

As you jump ahead to attempt drawing perfectly finished lines, I slow you down to keep your line work light and open. As you slow down to finish a specific area of your drawing, I come along and have you bounce around the entire composition, comparing the size of one shape to another, correcting the distance between an angled line and a curved one, and so on.

This constant process of comparative and relational measuring can prompt students’ inward screams, “When will I ever get to finish a drawing?” Continue reading Getting to the Finish Line

Simplifying Complexity

Ah, the joy of leaving the complexities of life behind so we can relax in the studio to… um… draw the complexities of life.

Students like Max (shown above) enjoy learning to draw things that tend to be marvelously complex. Last Thursday, Max distilled the essence of pine cones on a branch through keen observation of patterns, contour edges, and color. Continue reading Simplifying Complexity

The Natural Way to Draw

“There is only one right way to draw and that is a perfectly natural way. It has nothing to do with artifice or technique. It has nothing to do with  aesthetics or conception. It has only to do with the act of correct observation, and by that I mean a physical contact with all sorts of objects through all the senses.” —Kim Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw

As a drawing coach, one of my greatest thrills is seeing students smile as they revel in pure, honest sketching from life. I enjoy nudging each student to the next level of exploration and discovery in finding their own confident, natural way to draw. Continue reading The Natural Way to Draw

Inspiration, Flowers, & Youth Design Team

During our studio sessions, we learn to engage in the moment, to be enthralled with the process of drawing. Instead of always having high expectations for final artwork, we embrace the challenges and sweet little successes, even if those successes amount to just a few well-placed contour lines on a paper filled with frustrating attempts. Shown above, Mike works through the challenges of blocking and sketching studies of a statue bust. Persistence in solving problems can yield inspirational results for both student and teacher.

We are also learning that we never know where inspiration will come from, or when it will arrive… Continue reading Inspiration, Flowers, & Youth Design Team

Precise or Wonky Lines? Both Are Cool!

Last week our Level 3 students started to explore how ink and water flows on paper as they experimented with various line techniques. Shown above is Fiona’s first study of wonky lines and watercolor from a reference book on urban sketching.

During her private session on Saturday, Nicole lays watercolor onto her pencil sketch of a rose as she ponders the option of adding ink or keeping it only watercolor. We’ll see next week.

Continue reading Precise or Wonky Lines? Both Are Cool!

2B or Not 2B?

Which pencil should you use for drawing? That is the question.

2B-or-not-2B-4

During the early 17th century, as Shakespeare’s Prince Hamlet first gazed upon a skull and questioned what to be in life, the country of England was busy mining a valuable carbon material. This dark, powdery material eventually became known as graphite (derived from the Greek word ‘graphein’ meaning ‘to write’). Artists soon discovered graphite to be extremely useful for the process of drawing.

However, the big technological breakthrough for drawing came in 1795, when a French scientist named Nicholas-Jacques Conte invented the pencil. By mixing clay with graphite, Conte found ways to alter the hardness of pencil leads which produced darker and lighter shades of black. Modern-day pencils are available in a wide range of black shades—such as 2B, 2H, HB—enabling artists to achieve endless combinations of drawing techniques and styles.

How to choose the right pencil for the job at hand? Here are recommendations on basic drawing pencils I make to students that can help you get started: Continue reading 2B or Not 2B?