“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→
Which pencil should you use for drawing? That is the question.
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?→
Whether it be a cameo appearance, or a major role, drawing can play an important part in the success of a motion picture. For years I’ve taken note on how drawing is used as a storytelling device in movies, and the many ways characters are shown drawing in everyday life. Here are highlights from my list of past indie and major films as well as some of this year’s Oscar contenders that feature drawing scenes. So grab some popcorn, sit back, and enjoy the show. Continue reading Drawing on the Big Screen→
On urban streets or nature trails, where I enjoy sketching swiftly, I often find myself struggling with how to show realistic depth in my drawing. I’ve come up with a few strategies that use emphasis of lines and tones to create the illusion of depth and I’d like to share them with you. Continue reading Emphasis In Your Drawing→
Can urban sketching—the art of drawing what you observe in a city—ever become a truly comfortable and relaxing pastime for amateurs? By way of curiosity, commitment, and courage the answer is a resounding YES! Continue reading Ups & Downs of Urban Sketching→
Several decades ago, as an avid surfer, nothing excited me more than packing my surfboards and heading up the coast to discover new places to ride waves. Recently, I decided to conjure up my youthful fervor for exploration and set out on a sketching safari to the Pacific Northwest. What happened on the journey was totally unexpected; I rediscovered the thrill of drawing for pure enjoyment.
Every time we open our urban and field sketchbooks to draw, we’re faced with the same challenge—to swiftly transform flat 2D pages into believable 3D environments the viewer can walk into.
For the ranch buildings, shown above, I lightly sketched dominant angles (indicated with red) before drawing anything else. Dominant angles are the essential framework for sketching accurate 3D representations of buildings in a composition.
Notice the angle of the table in the foreground compared to the buildings. Getting these foundational angles correct was crucial in giving a place for the viewer’s eye to travel into the depths of the sketch. Continue reading Walking Into a Sketch→