"NEVER STOP DRAWING”
This has been the most valuable advice I've received since starting my degree. As a fashion student, drawing is at the core of everything I design and make, but you don't need to be an artist, designer or student to reap the rewards of this intuitive craft. Drawing is one of the most important skills anyone can learn, and teaches you to connect your mind to the outside world- to represent, interpret or imagine, and share your exploration of ideas with others. When someone tells me they cannot draw, my response will always be: “never stop drawing”.
The scope of what can be achieved through drawing is massive, and there are a huge range of techniques that can be explored, to suit all abilities and tastes. Remember there is no "right or wrong", and whether you're making a large-scale piece for exhibition, or simply doing it for fun, all drawing is valid and valuable- and, as with most things, your skillset and confidence will grow with practice.
In this blog I'll be outlining four different drawing techniques, which are great for making quick practice pieces. The aim of these exercises is not to achieve perfect representational images, but to show how interpretation and expression can be achieved in a simple and fun way.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Graphite pencils (HB, 2B, 4B)
Paper (you could even use a napkin!)
Reference material- photos from magazines, people and objects. Remember- it's easier to draw when you have a visual starting point.
Test Your Materials
As with any new material or technique it's important to be fully-acquainted with your tools, and this is just as important when using a simple medium such as graphite pencil. By holding your pencil in different ways you can achieve a wide variety of marks, and will discover which positions feel the most comfortable for you. Try out different pencils that range in softness to see the contrast in line quality, and experiment by applying varied levels of pressure as you draw, to take note of how each grade compares in colour range.
Continuous line drawing involves completing a sketch without lifting your pencil from the paper to create an image made entirely from one line. The Paul Klee quote- "A drawing is simply a line going for a walk" has never been so apt!
- Keep your pencil moving at all times and try to work quickly so that you don't overthink what you're doing.
- Don't be afraid to overlap lines you have already drawn, as this can create a sense of movement in your sketch.
- Vary the pressure as you draw, to highlight certain areas with a strong line and minimise others with a subtle, lighter mark.
- Alternate between looking at your reference and your drawing- the aim is not to copy your reference exactly, but to use it as a starting point.
- Remember- DON'T take your pencil off the paper!
Drawing with your eyes closed may feel unnatural but it's a great way to force you out of your comfort zone, prevent you overthinking minor details, and get you enjoying the simple process of putting pencil to paper.
- Study your reference material for 10-15 seconds before closing your eyes and beginning your drawing.
- Try to draw everything you can remember in one go- then open your eyes and look at your work. You can repeat the process again to add details if needed.
- Work with continuous line to prevent you from getting completely lost on the page.
- Keep one hand on your paper, to prevent the page from slipping.
- If you think you might be tempted to peek at your drawing come prepared with a blindfold!
Drawing with varied lines is a great excuse for experimentation, and can help you to find out which lines and marks work best for different elements of an image. Techniques to explore include dotting, shading, dashing, crosshatching and light tracing.
- Time yourself to prevent a piece becoming overworked.
- Use pencils of different softness to achieve a wider variety of marks.
- Be creative and test out different techniques in unexpected areas of your drawing.
- Juxtapose light and dark lines.
- Introduce texture with pattern and rough marks.
Drawing with your non-writing hand can feel weird and uncomfortable initially, but can achieve unexpectedly stylised and interesting results (it can also look quite funny- and laughter is always good!)
- Experiment with a variety of ways to hold your pencil- if you want more control try to imitate how you hold your pencil with your dominant hand.
- Work on a larger scale, with long, loose marks- adding small detail with this technique can be tricky.
- Move quickly! The slower you go, the harder it will be to keep control.
- Try combining this technique with another (a non-dominant hand continuous line drawing, for example).
- Have a go at drawing with both hands simultaneously!
The best thing about all of these techniques is that your outcome isn't set in stone- everything you'll create will be unexpected and could spark new inspiration to cross over into different mediums. Try to draw a little bit each day and take inspiration from whatever's around you- the more you practice, the more interesting it becomes. Just never stop drawing!