One of the many things people say when I talk to them about art and my design life in general is 'I wish I could draw.' And I get it. In an education system that doesn't value being creative or interest in the less 'academic' subjects people get the marks they have to and don't pick up a pencil for anything other reason then 'bloody Susan in charge of the office supply cupboard checked the wrong box and even though we really wanted those fancy pens with the clicky bottoms we now have to find sharpeners! SHARPENERS!'
Anyway, people look longingly at people who can put a decent sketch together and wish they had the same talent. As you know dear reader, I'm quite the passionate advocate of talent isn't luck of the gene but rather hard work. If you want to learn how to draw you can. Whether it's to de-stress at the end of a long day, because it's a hobby you always wanted to try, or you just want your doodles to be better, here's some top tips on where to start. They may seem strange exercises but they are to improve your observational skills as this is the first part of being a good artist.
You will need-
1 Black Pen (can be a ballpoint)
A few sheets of paper
A pair of shoes
Yes Shoes! They are one of the best things to practice on as they have a complex but familiar shape. So find a desk or a dining table to put your shoes on (or if your out and about please keep them on, for the sake of the public!) and lets get going!
Exercise 1. Timed Sketch
Have a look at the clock and give yourself 5 minutes to put a sketch together. We don't want to look at shade and light yet as 5 minutes may not be enough time to do all this. We purely want a line drawing. Start from the highest part of your shoes at the top of the page. This way you know you can fit the composition on the page. This is all about working out how you as an artist sketch things out but if you're struggling I humbly suggest this. With you pencil draw a very light outline to get the general shape the shoes on your paper. You can then place a little more pressure (don't press too hard) to get a more accurate outline on top of your light frame work.
You can use an eraser, but you have to finish. It can be tempting to rip a page out and start again but as with all of these they are exercises, not guides to how to make a masterpiece. You want to improve your accuracy and doing it timed will force your brain to really look at what your drawing. Do it as many times as you like, trust me you'll improve.
Exercise 2. Weaker Hand
So, grab your pencil but this time use the hand you never really use. For me it's my left, and get drawing! This is a good exercise for a few different reasons, One is that we already know we're not going to create a beautiful piece of artwork if we use the hand we don't normally so we can relax and enjoy the exercise rather then worrying about the result. Again keep this one quick, we want just a basic drawing again. You can use your eraser again but try to limit it as this ones never going to perfect. Instead just pull it out for getting your composition fairly accurate and not the quality of your line. It's fun this one if you go into it expecting to just have a good time and it will help the quality of your observation.
Exercise 3- Drawing in Pen
So for this one we can just use a pen. This will really sharpen your skills as your going to want to make your lines count here. It forces you to really focus and look up from you page (you can never look up enough! Always be looking!) If you do a wrong line don't worry, put the line you actually want in beside it. You can see that happened to me a few times but you still end up with a half decent drawing. The best thing about pen is your work looks intentional, like it knows what kind of drawing it wants to be. Not only will your drawing skills improve with this one, you'll really start to see what style of artist you are.
Exercise 4- Continuous line Drawing
So again pick up that pen and put it down on the page, and don't take it off. Seriously, for this one don't allow yourself to lift your pen up until you're happy your drawing is finished. Loop round and find creative ways to get your pen where it needs to go without just dragging it across the page. You can be really accurate to and capture the form really well. Not only will this help you be a better artist it will help you be quicker. This exercise forces you to be economical with your drawing. You'll be thinking, whats the best and quickest way you can draw this form? This is another really fun one to that a lot of professional artists use on a day to day basis as it's a time saver.
So there we have it! Four very simple exercises that can really help improve your drawing skill and take your doodles to Picasso's (given some regular practice of course!) Don't be disheartened if your drawing didn't turn out the way you wanted. Again it's a way to improve and let your style grow. Have a go and let me know how you get on!