“I can’t even draw a straight line!” is a common phrase I hear before beginners start lessons with me. But we soon learn to draw a wide variety of lines, including reasonably straight ones. With practice, even errant and wobbly lines will bend to your command. For students like Dotty, shown above, putting various lines to work is at the heart of learning to draw from observation. Continue reading Putting Lines to Work for You
Creating the illusion of three-dimensional form on a flat piece of paper is one of the biggest challenges in observational drawing. If only we could wave a sorcerer’s wand to instantly make our drawings look three-dimensional. Like magicians, we would be able to create dramatically modeled shadows, realistic contours, and brilliant highlights without effort. But even the greatest drawing illusionists in history agree: the true magic of realistic form begins with a keen eye for accuracy and deliberate practice. Continue reading The Magic of Realistic Form
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
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
Studying composition is where the serious fun begins for Level 3 Drawing Lab students. We’re learning to arrange objects on the page, measure accurate proportions, and depict tonal value masses.
After blocking in several basic shapes, then sketching contour edges, Scout (above pic) used a brush to blend lighter and darker tonal values in charcoal. Continue reading Stepping Up to Composition
“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