Drawing and Bears

1:13 PM

Cecilia DeBearvoire
Watercolor and ink
5 x 5 inches
Pineapple Journal
How often do you draw?

I'm talking about a piece of paper and pen* for the purpose of JUST drawing rather than drawing something to plop paint on top of later. Once a week? Once a month? Ever? Never?

If you answered hardly ever, you're in good company. The majority of artists I know only draw when they want to create a finished piece of art, be it a painting, sketch or plein air work.

Can you image what the NFL or pro golf would look like if the players didn't practice the very basics every day, for long hours?

A very unorganized circus flits through my mind. Maybe the Keystone Cops.

So why do we, as artists, think we shouldn't have to practice our basic skills? Regularly?

Let's face it...drawing is the foundation of most art. Values, shadows, form shapes, proportions and use of line are some of the very things that trip us up if we don't practice them.

Does the mere mention of these things make you cringe and want to flip to the next blog? I understand. It doesn't sound like much fun. But when I realized that my lack of knowledge and how to create values, shadows and use line was what stood between me and enjoying the creation of my art, I decide to learn.

And it wasn't hard. It just took being willing to try and acknowledging that I was gonna look bad some of the time. I had to keep putting marks on the paper. It took willing to do a really lousy job. Again and again until I finally got to something I liked. Did that mean it was perfect? Nope! Far from it. It just meant I could live with it.

Working in a junk journal** took all the pressure off from me. Since the paper was lousy, I wasn't expecting a masterpiece before I ever put pen to paper. Using pen made me look more closely at what I was drawing because I only had one shot at getting it down accurately.

I'm often asked "how do I learn?" or "where should I start?" and here is my very best advice:
Grab a junk journal and a pen. Doesn't matter what kind of pen or what color. Sit down anywhere and begin to draw what is in front of you. Doesn't matter what it is. Draw. Draw badly. Draw for 15 minutes. It is your choice whether you stop for the day or if you go for another 15 minutes. Come back the next day and do it again. And again. And again. Once you start getting the hang of your chosen scene, move to a new one.
Too intimidating?
Start with a cup, a box, a glass, a vase or some other simple structure. Draw it for 15 minutes every day. Change your perspective by looking up to the item, down into the item and then turn it on its side or at an angle. Once you've mastered that item, add another. Play with lighting to give you shadows. Draw. Every day. Draw, draw, draw.
These drawings are not for creating finished art though there may be some good candidates. They're to help you learn to see, to help you develop eye/hand coordination and to help you demystify drawing.

We're talking 15 minutes a day here. Surely, you have 15 minutes a day?

Classes help, but you don't have to wait to start with a class. Start where you are, use what you have.

Agree to do it badly so that you can improve. Be honest, but not brutal, when you look at your work. This is right, this is not. Done. Turn the page and do it again.

Look through some drawing books at your local library. Look at children's color books and draw what the artist has drawn. Not to steal their idea, but to learn how they created the image using just lines.

There is no magic pen, pencil, brush nor paper that I know of to make us morph instantly into the artist we all want to be. Just some practice learning the basics.

Now, how often do you draw?

*When we use a pen, we eliminate the possibility of erasing/correcting and so therefore we learn faster because we observe more closely. Without that eraser, we give up our safety nets. Our observation skills improve much faster.
**A junk journal is a cheap journal/sketchbook of blank pages. The paper is cheap junk. It's not good for much more than pen and ink. It may bleed through to the other side. It doesn't matter. It doesn't take color, washes or anything else. That's okay. It's simply a tool for learning. Once you're skills start improving, using the "good stuff" (read that the "expensive stuff") won't be nearly so intimidating.

You Might Also Like

20 Creative Thought(s)

  1. I KNOW you are right, Laure, and I agree with everything you've said. And I have junk journals and pens in stacks and piles in my "studio". Maybe if I read your message often enough and listen to everyone else who recommends DAILY PRACTICE, my lazy good-for-nothing muse(or is it just me?) will get back to work!

  2. You need to start sweeting-talking that muse of yours! She's there to help you and she'll be your best friend if you let her!

  3. Hmmm, I realize I don't draw near often enough! I get bored drawing the same thing again and again (notice, even my self-portraits have ceased) so yep, it's time to get started again because you are right as most of my life the only drawing I did was to design something for a project that was not the drawing itself! Somehow I do remember other posts reminding us of this too and obviously I've let it slide for the more "fun" stuff.

    Your bear is adorable!

  4. I meant to add - I see the painting of your bear, now where is the DRAWING of your bear, lol!

  5. Such great advice, and when I actually DO practice drawing, I see improvement from day to day. I have a junk journal and some pencils (have only used pen once!) in a basket under our coffee table so that I can quickly put in a little sketching practice. I don't do it as often as I'd like, but it is definitely on my list of things to do every week.

  6. I draw every day. I have all sorts of junk journals. Ha.. I know my drawing needs pracitce and I draw more than I paint for sure. I think I can see improvement from when I started a couple of years ago. Of course I have far to go but it is the journey that is so much fun.

  7. Oh, wow, so right. Drawing is my favorite though and I do a fair amount of it. I don't even draw for my paintings usually, just start with the paint!

  8. Actually I love drawing more than painting. I try to get the shape and shading with a pen. I love drawing!
    Your advice is wonderful and inspiring.
    Love that bear!

  9. ...ah I get it; Cecilia was the draw-card for your post; she is adorable too. Your worldly advice I'm sure is in keeping with continued progress in the field of art. I haven't "dabbled" in ages, but I still LOVE to come visit your blog and see the beautiful art you do. To continue drawing on a cheap resource probably isn't so intimidating.

  10. Laure, Your advice of a pen and a junk journal has certainly helped me. Great post.

    As for Ms Cecilia - Beautiful fuzziness and I love her name. Does she have a cousin named Simone? An inspiration, as is all your art. Thanks!!

  11. Good post.. food for thought. I was drawing daily but that went by the wayside... but it makes sense.. use it or lose it.

  12. As a beginner, I LOVE the idea of a 'junk journal'. That takes all the pressure off. I find I have my drawing scattered over several different size journals and the lack of integration keeps me from seeing progress. Diane

  13. I do think it builds confidence and makes the lines looser and free-er to keep at it. I definitely don't do enough, that's for sure. And it shows. Great post, Laure--love your bear!

  14. What wonderful advice! The more anyone practices, the better you will be. Keep a journal in your purse and you may find the time to draw at the doctors office or waiting somewhere!

  15. I also meant to say that it is a great way to watch how you improve over the years!

  16. Can't I just read about how to draw? :) Just kidding. I do not draw enough, I know. I like to draw, I just don't do it enough. Thanks for the gentle nudge. I'll try harder.
    P.S. Love your Teddy Bear!

  17. This information is so spot-on . . . so, so true!! I do draw, but certainly not regularly enough. I am "turning over a new leaf (pun intended!)" here and resolving to do better!! YOU are the best, Laure! And Cecilia is gorgeous!

  18. Yes! Yes! Yes! most of us don't draw nearly enough. ... and it pays such dividends when we do. I do some art work most days, but don't spend nearly enough time just drawing.

  19. Timaree, the sketch will be in the next post—my apologies for omitting that piece!

    Great idea, KJ! The easier we make it on ourselves the more likely we are to practice.

    Good for you, Lisa! There will always be more to learn. Otherwise, why would we do it?

    Theresa, excellent news! I sometimes start with just the brush—usually when I'm on location.

    Thanks, Teri! You are a serious drawer going by the "evidence" on your blog!

    Yes, Carole, you've figured out my tactics!! If you know you're not likely to get that masterpiece, it takes away a LOT of the intimidation!

    I'm so glad, Diane! Cecilia may well have a cousin named Simone—she's a Boyds bear!

    Thanks, Cris, hope you can get back into the drawing now that life has calmed a bit.

    Diane, it will make all the difference in the world!

  20. You're absolutely right, Sue!

    Jacqueline, that's one of the cool things about the journal as it's quite easy to track our progress!

    Wouldn't that be wonderful, Katie!?! Wish it worked that way!

    Ah, Betty, can't wait to see your journal!

    I'm surprised, Elva! I thought you did quite a bit of drawing.

    Thanks, everyone, for the great comments!


Let's talk!

Like us on Facebook

Flickr Images