Drawing For The Sake of Practice

5:51 PM

Chris and Booger
No Name Fountain Pen with
Unknown Black Ink
In Junk Journal 
A comment from Monday's post by Cris from Cris, Artist In Oregon fame started me thinking about why we draw, why we draw in a journal...and why it can be so difficult. She wrote the following in response to my question at the end of the post, do you draw regularly:
No, I dont draw regularly Laure. I was in the garden this weekend trying to draw something and what a mess. I NEED to do this regularly. But I find excuses not to. Groan. Number one excuse is WHAT to draw and TWO how to put it on the paper. Should I do it in an order etc. I am so looking forward to my new Northlight Artist journal workshop book coming that deals with these things
Pondering what Cris had written, I realized that many artists (and on occasion, myself) get hung up on what to draw, should it be in order, should it be pencil, pen and ink, watercolor, colored pencil, some combination of mixed media, and then we wonder if it should be a vertical format, maybe square, or horizontal maybe! Oh, wait! We remember we just got that new journal with the handmade paper and we can use our Cray Pas crayons in it! No, wait, the new walnut ink, or maybe we ought to just stick with something simple like pencil......

Sound familiar?!

And so, we draw nothing. Held captive by the overwhelm of choices and possibilities. My response to Cris was simple:
Cris, this is going to sound odd, but it really doesn't matter what you draw if you're drawing for practice. It's more important that you simply draw!
Like most things, it helps to have a clear idea of why we're undertaking a task in the first place.

Are we drawing to improve a certain skill set? How to draw with a certain media type? Or how to draw roses? Or watercolor or pen and ink? Or just plain, old practice?

For me, drawing is the foundation element of all art. To be good at drawing only increases my ability to put something on the page I'm going to really like. I want to be able to draw anything, anywhere, any time. Am I there yet? Heavens, no! But the fun is in the trying and you can bet I'll keep trying!

The sketch above is poor with regard to the perspective, shading and so on. That's okay. It records a moment in our lives of our 20 year-old cat curled up on Chris' pillow. She does this every night. I sketched this in under 5 minutes because Chris was waiting for me to get in the bed and turn the lights out!

I couldn't have done this if I wasn't willing to fail. I couldn't have done this if I hadn't been practicing quick sketching in a hurry. Since Booger's health has begun to fail, I can't wait until I'm good enough. I have to do it now or the chance will be gone forever.

Failing is as much a part of learning as success and what I've learned is that it's okay to fail. In fact, fail gloriously! It means we're learning something! How else can we learn if we don't fail?! Success is not nearly the teacher that failure is.

Cris wrote back, saying:
Thank you, Laure...What you said in your comment to me seemed to free me. I have been drawing something every day. They aren't the greatest drawings and it's in an old torn sketch book, but I am drawing. It feels good to just do something that means nothing but practice.
Sometimes, it really is just that simple. It's practice. It's making a mark on the page. It doesn't matter how,  the paper, the book, the order....it's about the practice.

So I ask, what's holding you back from practicing your drawing skills?

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11 Creative Thought(s)

  1. Well said, Laure. Nice post! And way to go, Cris!

  2. Great post, and cute sketch of an "ordinary moment." I should go hunt out my sketchbook right now...

  3. As I said before I draw most days but what goes on the page are "glorious failures" for the most part. So much so that my DB bought me 2 books about how draw faces. ha... I will keep plugging along. I know it will get better.
    That is one great thing about reading blogs for a number of months/years. You see how other people improve with practice. It is a good incentive. Plus there are people like you who really make you think too and offer wonderful classes.

  4. I come here regularly to learn something and I usually do. Little did I know I would be part of the lesson today. lol But you are right on with what you said. I have been to worried about what and how and on what to draw, that I wasnt doing anything. I have been trying to make a goal to draw something daily. So far so good. Yesterday it was just the outline of my dog laying on the lawn. Todays drawing got sidetracked by the delivery of my new Northlight book I ordered. :))

  5. What a great reminder, or poke in the side for me. I've lost a little bit of momentum and sometimes I too feel stumped as to what to draw/paint and all of the choices that go with that (tools/toys). Great reminder to "Just do it" as Nike says.

  6. Once I was married to an artist and he was always drawing in his sketchbook. i myself sketch rarely however I "met" Cris on-line a number of years ago via the BIG DRAW. This is an event that takes place in Britain in October and celebrates drawing by anyone and everyone. Someone from over there hosted an on-line big draw for the whole month of October and that's how I met Cris, Lynn of the quilts and a number of others. It was really fun. You drew whatever and posted it and could also see the others' drawings.

  7. Very well said. I have this same problem and really don't like it when my art isn't "good". I tore up a couple of watercolours and now wish I hadn't because they are all learning experiences. Thank you for the reminder.

  8. This is a super post. What is keeping me from drawing right now is yet another quick trip to CA plus an online game. As soon as I get home I am going to get back to doing more drawing. I wonder - does anyone else find their habits when visiting family totally change?

  9. Laure - excellent post and I grealy enjoyed reading the responses. We all go through the same process - my biggest problem is that the image in my head is never the same as on the paper - so I have to overcome my exprectations.

    I draw best when I draw "for practice" or to experience the sheer joy of sketching an dinteracting with my subject.

    I try to remind myself that all I really need is a scrap of paper and a pencil nub - the rest will take care of itself.

    Another thing I do is to draw the first subject that sparks my interest (without thinking about it too much). But sometimes I find myself in trouble! But then I feel like I have nothing to lose, and often save a drawing beacuse I pushed myself by trying to solve the problem.

    Each drawing is a learning experience, and I will always be learning something every day!

  10. And I am SO guilty of not drawing regularly! In fact, I seem to have abandoned the painting/sketching exercise altogether! I need to get back in the saddle!


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