Week 7 summary – Learning to draw

I can’t believe I’ve already been learning to draw for 7 weeks. Time really does go by faster as you get older. I’ve not got much time to write this, so I’ll just stick to a brief overview of what I worked on this week.

I had to go to the art supply store for some pencils, and picked up a couple pads of drawing paper to try. The paper is thick enough to be able to use a dip pen with real ink, but I’ve not tried that yet. I did try to draw a humming bird with fineliners though, using an A5 sheet of nice paper, and the result is below.

Ink drawing of hummingbird

This is the reference drawing I used:

I’m fascinated by this drawing style with lots of “hatching” and textures, but am not sure that delving into this style is in the cards for me because it is so labor-intensive to make all those tiny marks. I have the patience and motivation, but my hand and wrist really don’t like it. Perhaps it’s a technique issue that I can work on.

Basic skills work

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The first Skillshare lesson for this week is drawing simple objects in perspective, so I set up my workspace to be able to see and draw simple forms.

Simple still life forms, no detail or shading

Simple still life with basic forms.

I also did further practice with freehand circles, spheres and ellipses, but those drawings are too light to photograph well.

Building up a visual library / vocabulary

As I learn and practice drawing, my goals are becoming more clear. One of them is to build up a visual library or vocabulary of animals and objects that I can draw from memory. In order to really commit something to memory, it’s important to try to actively recall it – to test yourself. So I did my best to quickly sketch a hummingbird head and basic feather pattern from memory (on my ipad). It’s still terrible, but it’s much better than it would have been if I hadn’t practiced.

Sketching idea of humming bird head from memory.

Drawing simple compound forms

Another part of this week’s skillshare lessons was to practice drawing compound forms, that is, forms that combine more than one basic shape.

The assignment was to choose a simple object containing more than one rounded form, and draw it from 5 different vantages (without shading or detail). A kettlebell was the only thing I could find that wasn’t overly complicated. I did all five versions in one sitting, and to me the difference in line quality between the first two and last three is pretty dramatic.

Kettle bell 1 and 2 of 5

Kettlebell 3 and 4 – already better than the first one.

Kettlebell 5 of 5 – notice the difference in line quality compared to the first two.

Drawing from photo reference instead of another drawing

Toward the end of the week I tried to draw a humming bird from a photo reference instead of trying to copy another drawing. When you copy a drawing, a lot of the hard observation and problem solving has been done for you by the original artist. When you work from a photo, you have to decide how you are going to render what you see in the photo.

Again, I’m working on tissue paper because I don’t feel like my skills warrant good (read: expensive) paper.

This drawing is not great by any means, but I know for sure that it’s much better than it would have been if I had tried to do it a few weeks ago. Learning something new is all about being consistent, celebrating the small wins, and continuously trying to find targeted areas where you can improve.

As a beginner it’s hard to know for sure what the greatest weaknesses are…I need to improve in every area. That’s why I’m following Brent Eviston’s Drawing Basics course. I won’t try to second guess the teacher, and will keep working through the exercises as prescribed for half of my practice time, and the other half I will spend just drawing for pleasure. That seems like a good way to keep making progress while enjoying what I’m doing. Attempting the Drawabox 250 box challenge had pretty much killed my enthusiasm, so I want to avoid that at all costs.

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