The Artist's First Steps

 

A Blog Featuring Established Technique and Original Approaches to Get You Started in Drawing from Observation

#041 Creating Focus with Colored Pencils

Summer is a wonderful time to go to new places. A view like these fish could be found at a pet store, sporting goods store, a zoo, or an aquarium. When we look at a complicated subject, or a view with a lot of different objects in it, we need to find an area to focus on for the drawing. Remember that a photograph is just a tool and the artist should use that tool in whatever way is best for the composition of the artwork. It is rare that an artist will copy the photograph in its entirety. In this artwork demonstration, I focused on only two fish (shown below.) The surrounding plants and other fish will be used as background material. Now take a look at this week’s teacher example and then set up and make your own line drawing of a colorful group of fish or small creatures following the directions below. 

Gather art materials and references. 

Materials:

Drawing pencil

Set of colored pencils

Plastic eraser

Drawing paper – 4 sheets

 

*A higher...

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#040 Layering with Soft Pastels

 

People and their activities are some of the most interesting subjects for art. In the summer, you can go to any park and see people having fun and being active! We love what we do and you can draw a picture of something you love to do.  I like to draw the figure in pastel because the beginning step allows you to draw and redraw many times. The changes are easily made as you just wipe out your lines with the swipe of a cotton ball, and redraw them. This makes pastel the perfect medium for drawing a subject that you may want to make many changes to as you draw.

Gather art materials and references.

All you need is a piece of colored pastel paper or colored construction paper, a cotton ball or chamois, and a set of chalk pastels, also called soft pastels. Any type of chalk, soft or hard pastel will work. Oil pastels will not work with this method.

 

You will also need a photograph of a figure involved in an activity. You can select a picture of yourself if you...

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#039 Layering with Graphite Pencil

 Gather art materials and references. 

This week our subject is something that everyone loves: food! This subject is readily available. Just walk into your kitchen or pantry. Jars of canned goods make lovely subjects. You may find a bowl of fruit or even draw what is on your plate at mealtime. That’s what I did. I liked the shapes of the chips and how the ice looked inside the glass.  You will make four drawings during this month. In each one I will show you another way that you can add more to a pencil drawing. You will need a graphite pencil, plastic eraser, and sheet of drawing paper for each week.

 

Find two or three interesting objects. You can use more, but be careful not to make your arrangement too complex. Set up your still-life. Overlap the objects so that the edges meet. This will help tie the group of objects together in a pleasing way. Notice, in the teacher example, how the plate sits in front of the glass, but it overlaps as well. The...

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#038 In Your Backyard

Today we explore birds you see in your own backyard. You will see the teacher's example and select a similar subject from your backyard, from a book, or internet sample. You can use the photo provided. Look at your reference as you draw or paint your picture. Are you surprised that you are not asked to copy the teacher’s example? You will select your own subject for two reasons. First, you will be most interested in a subject that you like, have interest in, or find within your own environment. Secondly, when we look at real objects or high quality photographs, we see much more detail. Artists select the details that are important to their own picture and what they want to accomplish within it. These are important aspects of being a real artist. You will get your information for the picture from a real object (a reference) and you will see the techniques for putting that information on the page within the teacher’s example. Techniques are methods of using...

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#037 Our Mind Fills In; So that we can Leave Out!

 

Hi!

Today we look at how to draw objects that are partially hidden by overlap. Why is this important? Because our drawing does not have three dimensional space like the real world. Instead, it is an illusion of space. We create this illusion in different ways: 

I want to remind those of us that are older, to be considerate of younger students. Younger students are still approaching the drawing process in a different way and prefer to show the entirety of each object. This is just fine. Everyone, no matter their age or ability, should be able to draw in the ways that make most sense to them. When you are ready to use the topics in this lesson, you will enjoy drawing this way!

Enjoy Drawing!

Brenda Ellis, Author of ARTistic Pursuits.

HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER

1. Objects show edges that belong to the object only and are not shared with another object.

2. One object overlaps another so that part of the more distant object is covered up (not seen).

*Students under...

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#036 The Mind's Task; Responding and Editing Visual Information

 

Hi,

Our summer lessons have shown you topics that will improve your drawing skills. You may wonder what an artist is thinking as he or she draws from direct observation. The mind is searching for visual information that is useful for the drawing. Not only that, but the mind is also blocking out information that it does not find useful. For instance, if you make a simple line drawing, you probably aren't too concerned about the color of the object. While drawing the outline, you may ignore things like logos, patterns, or other small details. The mind is busy focusing on one element at a time as it searches for visual information.

Enjoy Drawing!

Brenda Ellis

HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER

1. If you focus on the small details first, you won't be able to draw the object well.

2. Start with a focus on the big shapes and fitting those shapes onto the space of the page. 

3. Improve on the big shapes using line to describe creases, edges, and details.

4....

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#035 Use your Hand, Wrist, and Arm to Draw a Better Line

 

Hi!

Today we look at how our hand and arm are tools for drawing. Our physical body plays a part in our drawings. Our eyes move quickly around a subject, pausing and refocusing. Our wrist and elbows allow rotation, for making smooth arcs and curves. The shoulder allows for horizontal and vertical lines to be pulled in a straight line across the paper. Learn how to use your wrist, elbow, and shoulder as tools to make smooth lines that pack excitement! 

Enjoy Drawing!

Brenda Ellis, Author of ARTistic Pursuits.

HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER

1. Beyond our eyes, and our mind, our physical body plays an important role in how we draw. 

2. Using the wrist and elbow to pivot, we can make smooth curves. 

3. Using our shoulder we can pull straight lines across the space of the page. 

 Go to ARTistic Pursuits website.

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#034 How Focus Makes Your Drawings look More Realistic

 

Hi,

Why do some drawings look bland, while others really pop? Here we show how drawing can mimic the way our eyes view the world, making any drawing stand out! It's called focus. Look at how artist, Edgar Degas gave great attention to detail in the figure of the man in a red coat, but left the horse in line only.  We see the horse, so we know what the man sits upon, but Degas chose to emphasize the man with color and more detail like the creases in his coat and pants. When you want something to stand out, you can give focus to your drawings too. 

 

Enjoy Drawing!

Brenda Ellis

HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER

1. You can mimic the way our eyes work, by giving focus to one area of your picture. 

2. We do not need to draw everything we know about each subject in our drawing. Choose an object you want to stand out and draw more details in that area. 

3. Lighten lines toward the edges of the picture. 

 

Go to ARTistic Pursuits website.

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#033 Better Drawing Outcomes

 

Hi,

I'm so glad you've joined me the second drawing lesson of the summer. Have you ever spent a good deal of time on a drawing only to notice that a part of it was off? You wonder why you didn't see it earlier and now it feels like it's too late to make the change. Is this caused because you could not draw the line or because you did not notice the placement? I think it's always an error in observation, not because you lacked skills. You see, as we draw, we notice more and more about what we are looking at. When we are willing to make the changes as soon as we notice them, then our drawing does not get too finished too soon. Today we will discuss a practice that can greatly improve the outcome of your drawing, when you strengthen your muscle memory within the first 5 minutes.

Enjoy Drawing!

Brenda Ellis

HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER

1. When we draw an object we create muscle memory.

2. Muscle memory helps us to remember how we did it the first time, so there is less...

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#032 Why You Must SEE and Object Before You Can DRAW an Object

 

Hi,

I'm so glad you've joined me this summer for our first lesson. Children to adults can sometimes be tripped up by the first steps to drawing from observation. But that is exactly what you'll want to do, because when you find you own subject to draw, the drawing is truly yours! As your skills grow, you'll gain the confidence to draw anything, any subject, that appeals to your tastes and interests. 

I can't tell you how important drawing is. Any fully-rendered, shaded drawing or colorful painting relies completely on those first lines that you put onto the paper. If your line drawing is off, no amount of shading or coloring will make that better. That's why our summer lessons show you topics that will improve your drawing skills. 

Enjoy Drawing!

Brenda Ellis

HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL DISCOVER

1. If you can't clearly see the edges of your subject, you won't be able to draw it well.

2. Improve that edge by sitting the object in more light. 

...

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