Drawing

DrawingI have always been interested in art and the very first medium I used was, like most people, crayon. For my whole childhood my favorite presents were legos and drawing supplies, and while eventually I discovered my love for the third dimension through clay, Drawing will always be something I come back to. It was my primary medium of expression all through elementary school and middle school and while I would then begin using clay quite frequently I never stopped drawing. And when I started studying art in college the first class they have you take is… drawing.

As I would learn, this is because drawing is the fastest and most direct way for an artist to express themselves, barring some sort of cognitive disorder like the inability to conceptualize two-dimensional images. When you take Drawing 101 the main focus is to train your brain to observe what is really there, instead of simply relying on the mental short cuts your brain naturally builds as you develop. This is why “still life” drawings are so ubiquitous, every artist at some point must tackle the inherent misconceptions about the structures around them. this is when an artist learn how to draw true perspective.

Now perspective is what we call the quality that object have as they appear smaller the farther away they are from the viewer. This is a seemingly easy concept to master but the real subtlety is when two object are very similar in distance, or when the object(s) are very close to the viewer. This because objects because they exist in three dimensional space always have perspective even compared to themselves, which is why cubes always look wedge shaped in perspective. This are complicated a little more back the parallax effect that your eyes have, which is why you always see artist closing one eye as the draw or paint a subject, closing the same eye each time will keep the perspective consistent.

You also have to learn to perceive color and value and to distinguish the two from each other. Color is obvious, though with proper practice the sensitivity to detect to difference between colors can be greatly enhanced, which is why there is a seemingly endless number of blues in the painting aisle at the hardware store (it’s not just a ploy to confuse and frustrate new home owners, that is accomplished by the number of brands available.) Value on the other hand has to do with how much light and object is receiving from any one angle. so a ball can be white in color be have many shades of value as you move along its surface from the light side to the dark. This can be a particularly difficult skill to hone because your brain automatically filters and compensates for this effect  so that we don’t think that the dark side is a separate object from the light.

So once you can see the world properly, the ultimate goal of Drawing 101 is to draw it accurately. One really common practice when drawing something is to look at your subject  a do a very rough and very slight sketch of the composition so that as you start to draw in more detail you don’t run out of room on the page, like starting a poster too large a font, you want everything you maintain a consistent scale throughout the drawing. In a similar fashion you want to pick out the areas of the lightest value and the areas with the darkest value and roughly block(fill) those in, because there is only a finite number of shades that you will be able to represent with a given medium and if you start with a mid tone that is too dark, when you get to the darkest dark you won’t be able to differentiate it properly.

Drawing 201 is the next drawing class you likely take an art school and its emphasis is on human anatomy since, again,the average person has build a series of mental short cuts when referring to the human body. Like when you see a child’s drawing of a person the will typically have the person’s limbs all fully extended, this is not because they don’t know they have elbows, its just that in daily life it is not important that people have elbows, as long as your elbows are working you might as well ignore them.

We also tend to make the heads too large and legs too short, and most people tend to exclude any hard angles whatsoever. These are all the kinds of things you begin to compensate for as you “learn to draw”. I put that last bit in quotes because when a person gets to a college level drawing course, they know how to draw, they just don’t know how to conceptualize what they are seeing, and so hen they interpret what they are seeing into a drawing the image comes out distorted. This usually when a person gets frustrated and conclude that they just can’t draw. But with some instruction and lots of practice, anyone can draw, anyone.

These are important lessons that to this day I think about when drawing a scene from life. And if you are interested in pursuing art I highly recommend that you take at least Drawing 101 and Drawing 201, if nothing else.

And that’s my take on drawing.

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