The Art of Studying

Showing off our finished drawings to family and friends can be gratifying. Enthusiastic viewers appreciate your techniques and may even understand that you spend many hours improving your skills. But hidden to their eyes is your dedication to doing studies—a most misunderstood aspect of learning to draw from observation.

Study sketches can help you learn new drawing principles and useful habits. Naomi’s Level 2 study shows how she learned to make guidelines for correct angles of perspective.

It is in the countless study sketches where you’ll find solutions to problems as you work. Shown above, Naomi spent two sessions carefully studying vertical and angled lines in 2-point perspective drawing.

Many of Mike’s detailed Level 3 studies are built on several hours of solving problems in blocking accurate measurements of proportions and sketching contour edges.

Doing a number of progressive studies can help you spot and correct mistakes early on, before you get too far along with your drawing. My mission, as your coach, is to help you discover the enjoyment in doing study sketches, and how the art of studying can lead to a solid method of drawing from observation and imagination.

Studies can help when trying something new, like going big with charcoal…

We started Thursday evening’s Drawing Lab session by doing large scale charcoal studies of dominant angles, curves, and shapes of flowers in a vase. Then we zoomed in to study one section of the composition while practicing moving the whole arm to lay down lines and shapes to fill the page. As you can see above, Scout busted out with a super-sized sunflower that was as big as her!
Studies are often swift and unfinished. With her impression of masses of flowers, Lenore stepped up to the challenge of going big. She took a break from highly structured, detailed drawings to study the flow of gesture, repetition, and rhythm of contour edges.
Studies can come in all sizes. Applying urban sketching techniques we learned in last week’s session, Scout (sketchbook at left) and her mom, Zak, had fun sketching a house in their neighborhood—an excellent example of “homework”. 👍👍 Zak’s large scale charcoal gesture study of flowers is in the background.
Youth sketcher, Braeden, moves into Level 2 studies of faces and abstract designs.
Hmmm… I wonder what Fiona’s expression is saying about her having to go through four perspective studies of the Chevy? The art of study can sometimes be a bit tedious. 😬
On Friday afternoon Jesse got into layering primary colors of an apple with Prismacolor pencils. His mom brought in a terrarium to study dominant shapes, contour lines, and tonal values of various succulents.
Dotty discovered the pleasures of study sketches as she flies through the Level 1 lesson on negative space during our private session.
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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.

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