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.

Zak puts her observational skills to the test as she moved through a couple studies before tackling a complex bunch of tomatoes.

It can be intimidating to sit across the table from an object we are are about to spend hours drawing. 😐 But if we take a few minutes to deeply study our subject, trepidation gives way to fascination. Through patient observation we begin to see shapes and patterns instead of the complex object in front of us.

Using charcoal, Zak composed an excellent drawing of form, tonal values, texture, and reflective light.

Fascination with our subject then becomes meditation as a simple abstract design flows through the drawing hand onto paper. This arrangement of lines, shapes, and patterns eventually leads us to capturing the complexities of natural and manmade things we draw. Simple, right?

Sometimes complicated subjects make us think about what to leave in and what to leave out. Nicole’s search for patterns of a succulent lead her to imagining a spiral abstract design instead of individual leaves. We never know what her inventive mind will come up with next!
Shown above, Jessica is introduced to drawing a jaguar with lines, shapes, and patterns during our Wednesday evening session—welcome to the Drawing Lab crew, Jessica! Also shown is Faith working on the iPad as she designs characters for her Youth Design Team story project.
Youth sketchers, Deven (left) and Scout (right) are always up for drawing the complexities of manmade and natural objects.
Devin’s mom, Becky blocked a superb abstraction of dominant shapes and angles with light construction lines. 👍
Youth sketcher, Laurel, blocked shapes and sketched light construction lines before drawing exquisite contour edges and natural patterns of a shell.
Thursday evening Drawing Lab crew deep in the flow.
Casey’s handy little ruler for sketching guidelines lies on Thursday’s 1-point perspective view of the top of a city. This youth sketcher is becoming quite adept at building complex compositions. Go Warriors, NBA Champs!
Jesse texted me the above pic of his wonderful effort in reducing a complex subject to dominant angles and shapes. Below are my comments to help him to the next stages.

The following two tabs change content below.

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.