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30 Days of Drawing

“Be bold, have a go and risk your paper” - Samuel van Hoogstraten

This course will challenge you to explore the unlimited possibilities that exist in your work. Many of these exercises are aimed at letting randomness in, this will help you to explore unintended ideas. Some activities may frustrate you or seem too open ended, try not to overthink them just get stuck in and see what happens. You are not trying to produce a beautiful piece of art it is about experimenting with various tools, mediums and processes to expand your creativity.

Join our Facebook group to take part and receive feedback. Don't worry if you're late starting we welcome all new members who want to take part.

Objectives for the course:

  1. Loosen up your drawing
  2. Understand line direction to develop form
  3. Focus on Composition rather than detail
  4. Find ideas in random marks
  5. Reduce your control to create random marks

Why would you do this?:

Join us to develop your drawing skills and share your ideas. If you’re feeling a bit stuck or unsure of where you want to go with your artwork, this course will spark new ideas for you. Perhaps you are already excited about the direction you are going and want to keep the momentum going. Join us to get into the habit of drawing everyday and connect with other artists. Don’t be too serious with activities, by taking a light-hearted approach you can allow the ideas to flow.


Materials needed:

  • Find a folder to keep your work in. You will be reusing some of the pieces throughout the course.
  • Plenty of paper that you are happy to use without feeling to precious.
  • Pencils, charcoal, eraser, pen, ink, black paint

Exercise 1

Objectives: Loosen up your drawing and understand line direction to develop form

For the first activity you will need to copy the image below, it has been done with charcoal although a soft pencil will be fine. Use half a standard piece of paper. The aim is for you to become familiar with the messy lines that look abstract and how they form a recognisable image.

After you’ve completed this exercise we’ll show the the full image.

This rough sketchy technique is what we’ll be encouraging you to do throughout this course.

Click here to view the whole drawing

Exercise 2

Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, Reduce your control to create random marks, Focus on Composition rather than detail, Find ideas in random marks

Scrunch up half a piece of paper and then flatten it out. Use charcoal to shade over the paper. Make sure you have a good balance of light and dark, if you’re unsure just post what you have done and ask for direction. Look at the marks, enjoy the unexpected marks made, are there any recognisable images?

Exercise 3

Objectives: Reduce your control to create random marks & loosen up your drawing

Find an unusual tool to draw with, maybe a leaf, a stick, newspaper or plastic bag. Try out various items and see what happens. Use ink or paint as a medium. Screw up a piece of paper or find a cloth with lots of folds to draw, your aim is to focus on the light and dark areas. This is to help you produce something that looks abstract. Post one or two of your favourites and comment on why you liked it.

*Please Note: You are drawing on a flat piece of paper, the crumpled paper or cloth is the object you are drawing.

Exercise 4

Objectives: Loosen up your drawing

Use a telephone directory or newspaper to do a series of quick sketches of still life (at least 4) post a couple of your favourites and keep them for tomorrow's exercises. When you post your work, feel free comment on any creative ideas that came up. Charcoal is probably best for this exercise but feel free to experiment.

 

Exercise 5

Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail, find ideas in random marks

Tear up all 4 of the previous day’s drawings. Using a fresh sheet of paper, place the pieces on it and move these pieces around to create a new drawing. It's important to rip the paper rather than cutting it and rip it into various sizes. Glue them down when you're ready. You will create an abstract drawing, looking at composition. Work into it again with charcoal, pen and/or ink when the glue has dried.

 

 

Exercise 6

Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail, find ideas in random marks

Create a charcoal sketch of any subject, spend only a couple of minutes on it, then with a soft cloth, wipe over the image. Spend a few minutes looking at your drawing, get some distance from it, look at the composition, the light and dark areas. Now draw over the top. Wipe over your work again and then continue to work - there is no need to continue to look at your subject at this point if you are working from a still life. Remember to stop and look at what you have done. Repeat once more, wiping over it and continuing to draw. The drawing wants to be overworked when you're finished.

You will have wiped over your drawing three times.

It is the process here that is the most important, don't be too concerned with creating a likeness of your subject. You are also practicing not getting too attached to your marks.

 

Exercise 7

Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, find ideas in random marks, reduce your control to create random marks

    Sketch something from life without looking at your paper.

    Find a model or object to sit and draw, spend a few minutes drawing, don’t look at the paper whilst you draw, not even once. Look for something with interesting folds, clothing, creased newspaper, a person, plant with lots of leaves etc.

     

    Exercise 8

    Objective: Understand line direction to develop form

    This exercise will help you to use a range a tones in your drawing. Find a white object (non shiny). On your piece of paper draw five small rectanglar boxes at the top and complete a grayscale from very dark at the beginning to white at the end and graduating the tone in between. Do a quick outline then drawing in ONE direction e.g. only up and down, use your entire range of tone to shade your drawing. 

     

    Exercise 9

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail, find ideas in random marks

    Use a crumpled up piece of paper or cloth as your object. Use a pencil to draw and shade with. Then take an eraser and rub lightly across the whole picture. This is a similar exercise to the charcoal and cloth. Then work back into the drawing again. You can use the eraser as a drawing tool as well as your pencil as you continue to work. 

    exercise 9 drawing of paper

    Exercise 10

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail

    Copy this artwork Scene of Regatta by Francis Hopkinson Smith. First look closely at the direction of the marks, look at how they overlap. Look at the composition of the drawing, where major areas of tone are. Notice how the darker areas are closer to the foreground. You'll notice a border has been drawn around the drawing, make sure you draw the border first. Next quickly add marks to indicate the major structures in the drawing, you want to be working on the whole drawing, try not to focus on one area for too long. Keep working on the drawing keeping to the loose style of the artist. You can choose not add colour.

    Francis Hopkinson Smith. 1902. Scene of Regatta, Venice. Pencil and gouache on paper. 20.3 x 25.1 cm. The Art Walters Museum. https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/scene-of-a-regatta-venice/7gGj2-zvKQdPYg

    When you are copying a sketch it is helpful to place it next to the original and then step back and compare it. This will help you to see any areas that need work... from here I can see that the sky should be darker.

    laptop with sketchbook to compare

    Exercise 11

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, find ideas in random marks, reduce your control to create random marks

    Choose an object, or a person who will sit still for a minute or so. If you choose an object it needs to look different from multiple angles. Take a sketch book and walk around the oject or person slowly while drawing. You are drawing what you see over the top of your existing lines. Focus here on line rather than tone. It will look like quite messy when you are done.

     

    Exercise 12

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail, find ideas in random marks

    This exercise is similar to exercise 6. You'll find a scene or landscape you like. Draw with charcoal the scene roughly. Scribble in the dark areas. Without looking at the scene again, wipe over it and draw over it again with charcoal. Look at the composition and look to balance the drawing. If there are too many dark areas on one side of the page, add some to the other.

    Exercise 13

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail

    The aim is to develop a detachment from the subject, so that the primary concern is the drawing. For this exercise you are working on a good figurative drawing in an abstract way. We have taken a master drawing and made it small and blurry so you cannot recognise any actual figurative content. The link to the original drawing is provided so you can see what you have been drawing.This exercise allows you to copy good composition without getting distracted by details.

    *If you do this at a fairly small size (half standard sized paper) you will find it easier to stay abstract. 

    Copy this composition with loose scribbly marks focusing on tonal areas. Step back from your work and compare it with the image your are copying and then continue to work on it.

    Click here for the original image.

    Exercise 14

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail

    After having worked on the previous lesson's nice flowing structures you’re going to work on something similar of your own but without any subject in mind. Keep bearing in mind all those qualities of the drawing that you've done previously.

    • Start with some shapes and look for something that works well as a composition.
    • You’re trying to do something that looks interesting, abstract as it is, it needs to look interesting.
    • Quickly move around the page, working on the whole drawing at once.
    • Although some sense of detail may arise you don’t want to define what that might be.

    View Bob's demonstration:

    Exercise 15

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail

    In this exercise you are going to copy another drawing by Francis Hopkinson Smith. Leave the drawing upside down and do not turn it the right way up. Try not to work out what is what in the picture. Your aim is to look only at the lines and their direction. Shade in the same way the artist has shaded. If you need, you can cover half of the drawing with a piece of paper to help detach yourself from the subject. Look for shapes not subjects, look at the negative shapes, these are shapes between the dark shaded areas. The artist was not careful with this work, it is messy, try to copy these.

    Exercise 16

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail

    Look carefully at the two drawings you have copied by Francis Hopkinson Smith. Note the direction of line that he has used, the messy scribbles, these look quickly done and free flowing. Now consider his gouche painting of a similar subject and draw it in the same quick, free flowing way that you imagine he would have sketched the scene prior to painting it.

    Keep stepping back from your drawing and comparing it to the painting.

    two boat scenes

    http://www.artnet.com/artists/francis-hopkinson-smith/a-view-of-constantinople-d7htq4ce5cliY1ljiJ7x6A2

    Exercise 17

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, focus on Composition rather than detail

    Copy the composition of the painting below using newspaper. You can keep this small, half a piece of paper is fine. You may want to cover your page first with large areas of tone and work from there.

    Four Young Girls by Tranquillo Cremona, watercolour on paper, 50cm x 35cm

    Exercise 18

    Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, find ideas in random marks, reduce your control to create random marks

      Similar to exercise 7, sketch something from life without looking at your paper.

      Find a model or object to sit and draw, spend a few minutes drawing, don’t look at the paper whilst you draw. Look for something with interesting folds, clothing, creased newspaper, a person, plant with lots of leaves etc. Think about the marks you're making, try different directions and lots of scribbles. When you finish, look at your drawing, look at the marks you were pleased with. Think how you made them, how you were holding your pen or pencil. Now re do the exercise, thinking about those marks you were pleased with put more of them down on your paper.

      Exercise 19

      Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, find ideas in random marks, focus on Composition rather than detail

      Here you will copy the picture below as you have in previous exercises. Spend a few minutes looking at the image, look at the different types of lines and how they create the form of the building. It's important to focus on line direction so you can recreate these same marks on your page. You may need to repeat this exercise a number of times as you understand the marks more.

      Exercise 20

      Objectives: Loosen up your drawing, find ideas in random marks, focus on Composition rather than detail

      In this exercise it's important to think about the marks and lines you made in the previous exercise. Find some buildings or a building to draw and sketch it in a similar manner to the sketch you did in exercise 19. It will help to use the same implement. Draw quickly and think about what makes a building feel like a building. Think about the lines in exercise 19 and what made it feel like a building. You may need to do a number of drawings. Look for areas that work in your drawing and continue to draw in that style.