January 17, 2019 5 min read
It's not too late to make drawing part of your 2019 resolutions. We often ask professional artists what they think is the most critical skill for an artist to have. Their answer? Most often, drawing.
So whether or not drawing is officially on your 2019 goals list, get inspired as nine artists talk drawing.
"Drawing is key, especially with watercolor… Like anything, you get better with practice.
I draw every scene out with pencil before I paint it, and I paint a lot, which means I draw a lot. With watercolor, where adjustments aren't easy, having those solid bones gives you the confidence to paint faster, looser, knowing those brushstrokes are in the proper place and at the correct angle.
Timidity is not a good thing with a medium as fluid as watercolor. I don't strive for exactness, preferring a strong confident stroke that may be a little off to something slow and controlled for fear of making a mistake."
"Every artist should take a drawing class. It is essential to feel the communication between the pencil paper and image. But to quit painting because you are not good at drawing is such a shame. I see so many students just loving art and not all are going to be successful artists by some standards. But the joy that we all get from art whatever it might be, can never be duplicated.
Don't let your drawing skills be the reason you quit painting."
"Drawing is a basic foundation and many ideas spring from the act of drawing. I find it is a direct expression of what I see expressed on paper. It also slows me down and is a meditative experience. … I find drawing brings life to a subject. Drawing also helps to simplify a subject. Drawing also helps you find your natural mark, which is so important in pastel and paint. "
"Drawing (and sometimes color roughs) is key to working out design. Many of my beginning students want to jump right into an art piece without thinking first about how they want to used color or value to plan out their design. They may think I am a pain for making them create value studies to work out problems. It is seen as an extra step or something that takes time away from the finished piece. But I see it as a time saver. "
"Drawing is the foundation of a realistic painting. The skills learned from drawing extend to the act of painting, the eye-hand coordination, what the brain sees and how your hand translates that onto the canvas with paint.
It takes a lot of patience to draw and paint realistically and many, many hours of practice! If an artist is resistant to drawing and doesn’t enjoy it, find something they enjoy and work at it. Many artists start their paintings without drawing."
"I love drawing and pastel provides the tactile experience of drawing and mixing color on the paper right before my eyes. It becomes a very intuitive way to work as I respond to the painting and the painting responds to me.
After teaching painting for awhile, I noticed that it was really difficult to get students into the sketchbook habit for preliminary work as well as just playing around for the enjoyment of it, like children do! We all are so afraid that our skills aren’t good enough and yet the only way to develop our skill is to do it!
Blind contour line drawing is a unique way to observe as if our eyes are slowly watching a tiny bug crawl along the edge of an object as our pencil simultaneously maps the road that the bug is crawling on. It can be a contour line along the outline or in, out and through the interior of the subject. The game is the pencil stays on the paper to record what the eyes are looking at.
If you slow down enough you begin to realize the experience of truly seeing. Not thinking, just looking, slowing down to allow the hand to follow/match the brain. It takes patient, mindful attention and at first no one likes it very much.
First, not being allowed to look at our hand, then we learn to look quickly every once in awhile so as not to lose our place. Everyone begins to notice when they lose track and start to make things up. Take a breath and come back to the practice. It’s very much like meditative breathing.
To truly observe as an artist takes a lot of focus and the reward is inspired and intuitive drawing with the benefit of stronger hand/eye coordination through practice. These drawings show much more poetry in line, in my opinion, than a measured drawing with more accuracy. The inaccuracies are part of the experience. Focused? Not focused? As we pay more attention, we begin to experience the therapeutic reward of being fully present in the moment the drawing is actually a record of where the mind has been while the hand has been drawing."
"Drawing plays a very significant role. I developed good drawing skills at an early age. These skills allow me to be loose because my paintings have accuracy in underlying drawing skeleton. If the drawing is reasonably correct, you can paint much more playfully loosely over it.
Many people come to art later in their life, and want to skip the rigor of learning how to draw - they just want to play with paint and color. They will only get so far in their evolution - basic drawing skills are required if one wants to paint in a representational manner. I’m not saying that one has to be able to render with perfect exactitude but learning how to draw is important…
If your drawing skills are not good, my suggestion is to draw a bit everyday. You WILL improve and it will inform your paintings. Drawing trains your eye to see.
If you are not familiar with how to design in values, start working in three values - black, grey and white. Until you can do some successful work in three values, wait on the color. This is one of the best ways to learn strong design and composition.
Good painting is all about the fundamentals - it does not serve any artist in the long run to skip the fundamentals."
"If you want the most out of the workshop, practice your drawing skills at least a little in advance. Draw a little every day and you will eventually get very good at it. Nobody is born with a gift to draw or paint. They are learned skills like cooking or carpentry. You will only improve through practice."
"If you want to be a representational painter, you must have basic drawing skills to be able to represent what you see, whether you sketch first with a pencil or not. In addition, many beginners learn to sketch but lack an understanding of perspective. I’m not referring to a precisely constructed perspective drawing, but rather to an application of the basic principles to create a convincing illusion of depth. Perspective is not just applicable to geometric shapes. Even a properly drawn portrait can serve as an example of these principles."
Quotes are from our ongoing series of interviews with contemporary artists. If you'd like to receive the interviews in your inbox, along with workshop suggestions, sign up for the Creative Catalyst newsletter here.
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