LESSON 4 - DRAWING BASICS

Drawing is a basic skill needed by most artists, and is critical for representational artists. Two great books I recommend are: 1. The Natural Way to Draw, by Kimon Nicolaides, and The Art of Responsive Drawing, by Nathan Goldstein.

 

Here are a couple of tips that will improve your drawing quickly. Drawing is basically seeing any object, and getting it down on paper. This is practiced by two main methods: gesture and contour. Below are images from the Nicolaides book as examples.   

Here are several figure gesture drawings done by students. The goal is to very quickly jot down the main shapes of any figure. It's been said you should be able to draw a man falling off a 3 story building before he hits the ground.

 

This is useful to see the "whole" object, whether a figure, a tree, a rock formation, or a vehicle, or whatever you are drawing and painting. In the lesson on starting a painting we talked about thumbnail sketches. This is what these are, a quick overall selection of what you want to paint. A gesture drawing helps in this process. 

A contour drawing is a little slower paced than the gesture and is used to see and draw edges of objects as they move back and forth in space. You place your pencil down on your paper at some point of the object you see, and draw until you come to the end of that edge, then put the pencil on the next edge and continue. As shown here, your own hand is a readily available model and works for free. Another way to do this practice is to not look at the paper but instead just concentrate on the object so you really look at it closely.

 

The contour drawing lets you develop an awareness of the edges of objects as there are really no lines in nature, just the edges of various objects. By changing pressure on the pencil you can make the lines recede or come forward.  

  

This image shows an example of a gesture and contour of a bow tie. You can use both methods with various objects. For the gesture drawings a pet is great as they don't stay still for long unless sleeping. For the contour, any still life setup or object works well for practice.

 

Use your imagination and the objects around you. I like to draw when killing time watching TV. I keep a sketchpad on my coffee table and fashion magazines to practice drawing figures and faces from the many photographs these contain while listening to a TV show. Any practice drawing is good practice.