32. How to Draw

People often say “I can’t draw” or “I stink at drawing.” It is my belief that the people who enjoy drawing and consider themselves “good” at drawing simply don’t judge their abilities and just do it. They’re not any better than the people who “can’t draw”, they just put a pencil (or pen) to paper without establishing an expectation for what image will appear. Just remember, if you call something art, it’s art! I wonder if Malevich ever lamented, “Я не могу обратить!” (According to freetranslation.com that is Russian for “I can’t draw!”)

Kasimir Malevich (1915( Black Square

Kasimir Malevich (1915) Black Square

The “Spy” used to draw freely and often and then, about a year ago, basically stopped. He did a few sketches here and there (check out his zoo animals) but mostly lost interest. I wasn’t too worried. We have paints and notebooks and different types of paper and pencils and oil pastels and I figured he would eventually “get back into” drawing. Apparently, a seven hour car ride to Tennessee (with only paper and pens for entertainment haha) was just what he needed and ever since our trip he is back to merrily sketching away.

"Crazy Cow Bank Robber"

“Crazy Cow Bank Robber”

Getting out the Halloween decorations may also have something to do with his new-found inspiration as these figures are a little creepy and spooky:

Figure

Figure

Figure II

Figure II

Figure III

Figure III

The supplies for drawing are pretty straightforward: pens (fine point sharpies are ideal), pencils, and cardstock.

When you give kids (or yourself) nicer quality materials, it affects the quality of work you produce. But you don’t need $20 per-sheet, heavy-duty “drawing” paper. I find that cardstock is heavy enough for most any drawing medium. It is around $5 for a big pack of it (I get it at Walgreens). Cardstock is also great because you can fold it in half and make your own cards.

Regular printer paper is ok too and we use it all the time but cardstock really makes a difference.

See how the paper is warping around (this is regular copy paper)

See how the paper is warping around (this is regular copy paper)

See how much more clean and crisp this is?

See how much more clean and crisp this is?

So you’ve got some cardstock and a nice black fine tipped sharpie and you are ready to sketch! But now you have writer’s sketcher’s block. What to draw? The following little exercise will get your creative juices flowing and you may end up with some cool drawings in the process:

One of my favorite subjects for sketching is a bicycle. If you don’t have an actual bicycle to draw from, just google a picture of a bicycle and draw from that. Or just draw a bike from memory.

First, use your non-dominant hand and draw the bike.

Left-handed bicycle

Left-handed bicycle

Next, draw the bike without ever lifting up the pen.

Continuous line bicycle

Continuous line bicycle

Then, close your eyes and draw the bike. Keep your eyes closed, no peeking!

Blind-folded bicycle

Blind-folded bicycle

Now just draw the bike with your dominant hand.

Right-handed bicycle

Right-handed bicycle

Finally, try and draw the bike with your foot!

Bike by my right foot

Bike by my right foot

Now sit back and examine the bicycles you drew. This reflecting step should be as long as the process it took you to make the drawings.

Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast

Prop them up on a shelf, a windowsill, or wherever and stand back and look at them. If you are doing this exercise with a friend, your kids, (or whoever) discuss what you see. What do you like about each? What do you dislike? Which one is your favorite?

Chances are the ones you drew using the “unconventional” approaches were far more interesting than the bike you tried to draw accurately with your right hand. This is what drawing, for me at least, is all about. Some people are very skilled and talented at drawing things realistically. If I work really hard at it I can depict some images (sort of) realistically, but I rarely take that route, because I figure that’s what cameras are for! I like drawing things that are different from reality. Things that don’t exist. To me, that is what makes art special. Plus you automatically avoid frustration when you are not trying to depict something “perfectly” as it exists in reality.

The Spy's bicycle

The Spy’s bicycle

Baby's Bicycle

Baby’s Bicycle

Happy sketching!

3 thoughts on “32. How to Draw

  1. Pingback: 64. How to Sculpt | Spy Garden

  2. Eliza Waters

    Thanks for writing this, I needed to hear this perspective. I’ve always been very critical about my drawing because it didn’t reflect the reality of the subject. I saw it one way and my drawing didn’t match! Your last paragraph offers a way to understand art as a reflection of more than just what the eye sees. I’m going to adopt your point of view! Also, glad to see Baby’s budding artistry…looking forward to more to come…:-)

    Reply

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