Making good progress on my dreams to be a mangaka in the future, I’ve spent the past two months attending a basic drawing class, and so far, I’m having a blast. This post is dedicated to my fellow amateur artists, or anyone interested in drawing; I thought it would be a worthwhile effort to provide a summary of what I have learned so far, and share my efforts with all my readers.
Art, in general, is a highly subjective field. At the first session, it was a relief to hear my instructor recite the philosophy, “Anybody can learn how to draw,” mentioning that one’s drawing ability isn’t measured by how gifted they are, but is rather a reflection of their perseverance, and efforts to hone their skills.
Though I’m only halfway through the course (four sessions out of eight in total), I’ve learned a lot. Much of this learning has involved the transcription of my observations, and perspectives of a random subject onto a paper, following three fundamental principles of drawing.
Techniques aside, drawing is the ability to closely observe your subject. It is an exercise in learning to actively see things, and deduce differences.
Lesson 1 – Learn to actively see things. Figures 1-2 describe this principle. Both figures were drawn within the same period of time, with Figure 1 drawn initially, prior to instruction, and Figure 2, after learning to remediate my ability to observe, and focus on the details of the shoe.
Rather than have a passive approach, I was instructed to use continuous lines, which provided a sense of structure, and certainty to my artwork. Now, drawing a straight line in itself is difficult, continuous lines even more so, and it is here I found the value of repetition.
Lesson 2 – The value of repetition. It is imperative that you repeat the exercises you learn in drawing. Figure 3 presents simple exercises in “doodling,” such as drawing circles of varying sizes, and figure eights, using continuous curves (without lifting the pen). Such activities helped with hand-eye coordination, particularly with blind contour drawings.
I spent many an hour practicing my hand/eye coordination by simply doodling around on a piece of paper. This also helped big time in learning to draw with my arm rather than my wrist which is essential when one wishes to draw continuous lines.
Lastly, I was encouraged to draw what I plainly see in my subject, and not give in to the natural urge of presupposing what I believe the subject should be from prior knowledge.
Lesson 3 – Draw what you see, not what you know. This makes a big difference. Figure 4 presents the infamous drawing of a pepper from memory (looks more like a pumpkin). Figure 5 presents a pepper drawn from observation.
Now, does this make a difference when it comes to drawing from imagination. I think it does, but we have to realize that our imagination is in many ways an exaggeration or extrapolation of what we observe in our reality. Learning to draw what I see in reality helped nurture my imagination.
These three principles have formed the foundation of my progress in the class so far. Supplemented by lessons in individualizing one’s artwork, and finding a measure of focus, and shape consciousness (which calls for basic interaction with your subject) my drawings have come a long way (Figures 6-7).
In this review, I wished to provide a generalization of the primary lessons that were essential to getting me started in drawing. Of course, there is always more to learn especially when it comes to the various techniques that can supplement your skills such as the use of guidelines, sighting angles, drawing upside down etc. But ultimately, practice makes perfect.
In my case, drawing has served as an extension to my imagination, as well as an entertaining activity in interpreting the world around me. As an art, it stresses our abilities to interact with the environment using our physical, and mental faculties, providing a medium through which one can express his/her individuality. Most of all, it is a lot of fun!
On a conclusive note, for those among my readers who live in Edmonton, I attend my drawing classes at the Edmonton City Arts Center.
The course is 8 sessions long, and is well worth the money. The City Arts Center boasts a variety of programs for adults, and children alike. If you’re interested in polishing your basics for drawing, certainly give the Drawing 1 & 2 course a try.
And for my readers who occupy various other corners of the world, but are aspiring artists, I would highly suggest Bert Dodson’s Keys to Drawing.
It is an excellent resource to learn the principles of drawing, and is a great complementary reference for any basic drawing course.