Creative exercises for every month

Exploratory Drawing Lesson


Learning to be creative is continuous and artists are often on the lookout for further tools. What you will learn in this lesson will resonate throughout all aspects of creativity.

This lesson will draw your attention to the study and how you can use it as a tool to enhance your creativity.

Firstly, a study is a close examination of a subject. This is often done in life drawing groups as you are educating yourself about what you see. It’s this discipline that can’t be avoided. I’ll be assuming that if you're wanting to make good use of these tutorials you will draw as often as you can.

    Sketch of I am your neighbour


    Attending a life drawing class can be a good experience.  You’ve got other people to talk to, share your work with and to have a cup of tea with at half time... all those nice social things that go with life drawing classes.

    For those who are not able to get to those frequently there is always the mirror and you can draw your reflection. Two mirrors gives you an option of drawing your reflection from an unfamiliar angle: you can put the mirror on the floor, you can put it high up and so on. All of these angles give you a chance to draw the human form. It's important to do that and keep doing that.

    Life drawing can also be still life: fruit, bottles or whatever you like to set up. You can work either quickly or slowly as you are educating yourself about the way things look.

    This is a discipline of great significance because it feeds your visual vocabulary and it’s that feeding that is drawn on in this lesson.

    So this brings us to the second category of study which is an exploration rather than an examination. It's an exploration to find and to embody an idea.


    Part 1: Looking at art

    Here we draw on the skills of Giovanni Biliverti through a close analysis of his work of St Agnes.

    Its very important for us to spend a substantial amount of time looking at good art. Although that begs the question of what is good, nevertheless it's an important aspect of our development.

       Biliverti Video 1

      Biliverti Video 2



      • You need to make some marks on the page to begin with, you've got to have something to proceed from and this is the first stage.
      • You are not projecting an image from your mind onto the paper, it’s going to be developed on paper as a drawing.
      • It's not necessarily an observation of a person but it’s an exploration that Billiverti is finding an image in the work that’s happening in front of him.

      Part 2: Starting the exploratory process

      So the inevitable question is, how do we find an image? What do we explore and how do we explore? This is where we begin.


       Part 3: How it becomes figurative

      Having looked at making marks on the paper to create the right balance and looking for a shape, you now need to look for some kind of order that feels healthy or comfortable.

      This leads to the inevitable questions;
      How does this become figurative?
      How does it avoid becoming more and more abstract, mere shapes on a flat plain?

      It's a big question and it’s not a particularly simple answer, yet it's one you need to work with and work with again. A great deal of this is happening in your head and not necessarily with the brush, charcoal, pen or whatever you’re working with.
      It’s what’s going on in your mind, your sense of creativity. With this in mind, we are going to talk about the relationships between one thing and another on the paper.

      It’s relationships that change everything and relationships that make something  move from being abstract to being figurative.

        Part 4: Importance of Form

        Lets look at what it is in a drawing that gives it form.

        The interesting thing about form is that there are some surprising and unexpected and inexplicable things that change a drawing to give it body, strength and form.


        Part 5: Creating space

        What happens on the canvas, your drawing, isn’t just the product of marks made on a flat surface, it's the product of our evolution of things that are deeply rooted in our minds in our psyche.

        We will be dealing with the creation of space in a drawing.

          Part 6: Hinting at the out of sight

          It’s important that we allow the viewers imagination and creativity to take part in our artwork.

            Part 7: The process of losing and gaining

            It’s the process, the losing and the gaining that is really significant and we need to be prepared to dispose of things even if we’re quite pleased with some of the things that have happened in our drawing. The drawing has to be right as a whole.

              Part 8: Demonstration and Explantion

              It's really important to keep following the marks as they are at the moment and be prepared to find things that possibly keep contradicting the idea that I feel is potentially developing. 




                • As a background to this program, you need to do as much life drawing as possible.
                • You need to be looking at good art. The google-art-project lets you see paintings at close quarters so you can see what the artist is doing.
                • You need to escape the preconceived ideas, once you start to work the drawing can lead the way.
                • Your work needs to be exploratory. You need to make crude marks and keep an open mind about what the marks mean.
                • You need to be detached from your work to see what is really happening and prevent yourself from imposing interpretation into your work.
                • You need to look at the work as a whole and not get lured into details.
                • It’s relationships that change everything...
                • …and relationships that make something move from being abstract to being figurative.
                • Nothing can be right in isolation, a problem can be an unexpected element in your work.
                • When making form remember form in terms of space and three dimensions.
                • In creating form remember line follows form, you are drawing around form.

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