Connecting Your Hand and Eye; Drawing exercises for beginning artists

I would like to help you get some confidence with rendering what you see on paper.  If you want to draw what you see, you must connect your eye and hand.  

So get the largest pad of newsprint or sketch paper pad that you are comfortable with.  I recommend 18×24” (45.7x61cm) that has a decent cardboard back at least or better yet a hardboard drawing board to attach pad or paper to.  Just basic cheap paper is fine.  You could even use regular copy paper, lined paper, even newspaper and not be hindered.  Use what you have for now. You want to be able to hold the paper in your lap with one hand and draw with the other.  You could get an easel but it’s not necessary yet.  

-Pick something to sketch with that feels nice to you: charcoal, marker, pen, pencil (soft dark pencil- if you can most pencils are soft 2B )even crayons will work (and they smell fantastic!)  Here’s a video on pencil hardness if you like: Charcoal and graphite blocks are my favorite to “exercise” with. May you find your favorites too.  

-Pick a scene- from a photo, from tv, or from real life; something you like.  

-If you can, hold your paper vertical/ nearly perpendicular to the ground/table/lap

-Remember those cues to see your subject as an artist.(See previous post)

-When you are ready to start mark making, try to do these things:  Use the whole paper. Use your whole arm.  Hold pencil/utensil differently than writing- I recommend the paintbrush grip illustrated here:

It will get you ready for the brush too.       

-Look at the subject and not the paper when you are moving your arm and making marks.  Start with the darkest parts.  Stop drawing when you look at the paper, noting where you are on the page but don’t worry about what it looks like.  Draw for five minutes like this then flip to a new page.  

-Now do that for one minute at a time.  Try to capture whole scene/ subject in one minute without looking too much at the paper. Flip to new page every minute.  Again and again.  With patience, a lot of paper, humility and humor, and forgiveness for the imperfection of beginning drawings, you will get better. Don’t give up. Expect crap-tastic renderings at first. It is only the beginning. Soon enough, you are going to be surprised. Until then, take pride in not giving up. You are an odd dogged artist and they don’t give up. Keep some of your best and worst drawings in a book or folder, date them, sign them, and take pride. You’ll love to see your progress as time goes on. It really is ALL good. Swim in it until your fingers get pruny. Creating is an act of courage. You are doing it right by doing it at all.

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