I’ve mentioned before that there are many benefits to drawing at least once every day, whether it be in a sketchbook or on various bits of paper its important to keep them together. In this post I’m going to be talking about having them in a book but many of my points can be applied to keeping them in a folder instead. It seems like a lot of effort but the rewards far outweigh the requirements.
The drawings need not be large or take much time. They can be whatever you want them to be since there is no brief unless you set one for yourself. Because of this the book can be a space for you to experiment with styles or content. You can play with ideas or concentrate on a single method to improve on.
The book becomes a record, when completed it contains the ideas and development of your skills over the time it was made as well as possibly recording the events that happened while you drew if you draw from life.
A sketchbook of daily drawings shows commitment not only to the book itself but to your art practice and its improvement. This means that it is often used within portfolios or spoken about at interviews for art programs if not shown because even the best tutors can’t teach you if you aren’t committed enough and such a book displaying that you can maintain the commitment can be a great sign.
For all my praising of the book I know that it is not for everyone, a sketchbook is different for everyone and while it may end up being unsuitable for you I fully encourage you to try it.
These are in no particular order and aren’t anything particularly special but if you’re looking to improve your drawing and aren’t sure how to these little things may help. They’ve came from my own experience while I’ve gone through school, college and now art school and really made a big difference for me so hopefully they can do the same for you.
You will probably already know this technique; straightening your arm and using the pencil to measure the size of one part of the object in comparison to the other. It is the best way to get the proportions correct but it does feel really stupid to do, especially if you feel self conscious. This often drives people to doing it without straightening your arm out in front of you but this can destroy the technique. The straightening of the arm creates a fixed distance from your body for the measuring to happen, meaning that any time you use the technique in a single drawing the distance is always the same but by keeping the arm bent in you can’t guarantee that the distance is the same.
Another thing to note for this is the overextending of the arm. Many people’s arms are not straight when fully extended which can lead to things being a little wonky when a drawing is done with this technique. It is important to note if you have this and make sure that you are either keeping the arm straight or fully extending every time you measure for a single drawing.
Lifting your hand
It seems an odd thing to say since we think that it’s a given but it is incredibly easy to get so drawn into a piece that we forget to be aware of ourselves but this often results in black smudges and smears that don’t make sense until you look at the side of your hand. There is devices that can raise your hand a bit, like the ones used for your wrists while typing but be cautious of them. Building a dependency on it may result in becoming restricted in the scale you draw and limit your creative freedom. It takes a little time but consciously making sure it’s not on the paper every time you draw can soon turn into an unconscious habit.
Doing a drawing a day is a sure way to improve your skills as well as having many other benefits, which I’ll explain in depth in another blog. Even just a small drawing a day is more time that you spend with a pen or pencil on paper. It’s a little bit more of proportions or line weight and perspective and a little more experience with the process and the material. Keeping a sketchbook of these daily drawings is a good way to record your progress and be a record of ideas as well as the memories the drawings may hold.
It may seem scary and daunting but life drawing is work the discomfort and it effects all your drawing skills not just your figurative. If you can’t find a class then bribe a friend to sit really still for a little while. They don’t need to strip at all, you can use their clothing as practice drawing fabric. Just don’t let them see the drawings afterwards, they’re not going to like them. Usually it is because they see themselves as looking a certain way and the drawing will look differently. I first did life drawing when I was 17 at a local arts centre and I’ve done it a college and uni too and it s hard at first and everyone has different methods. The pencil measuring being a popular one but having the figure in front of you makes a figurative drawing more realistic, proportions tend to be a bit askew when drawn from photographs and even more so from memory.
When I saw experiment I mean the little experiments like using colour for the first time or using a colour other than what the object it but I also mean the wild, I don’t call this drawing but its creative and I can’t think of anything else to call it experimentation. Use random objects as paintbrushes, draw movement instead of the object that is moving let the creativity flow. Drawing is exploring through mark making so go make marks.