Exercise Your Eye: Learn to Draw

by Jamie Markle

Ahhh, autumn! For many people, that means back to school, and for me it’s no different, even though I’ve been working for 20 years. As the publisher of The Artist’s Magazine and North Light Books, I know a lot about art. Actually, I’ve been painting for years, and I decided to exercise my eyes and hands by taking part in a local figure-drawing group. The first session was Sept. 12, and I’ve decided to share my thoughts about drawing and making art and some of the conversations that come up during the critiques in our blog.

Jamie Markle_drawing

Although this was the first group session, I’ve been drawing with some of these people for years. We were lucky to have a veteran model with us, so I was able to quickly get into a strong rhythm. We drew for about an hour with quick, two- to five-minute poses, then another hour with 15-minute poses. I draw pretty fast, so this approach works well for me.

It’s always good to know your objectives before starting any work of art. I have some very simple goals for my drawings:

1. Exercise my eye-hand coordination.
2. Engage with the model to capture him on paper.
3. Practice my compositional skills.
4. Record what I see in a quick, simplistic manner.

I’m not too worried about accuracy; these are really just experiments and a chance to draw.

Notice the figures in my finished drawing (top) are of the same pose from different perspectives. I like this approach because it challenges me to incorporate the figures without making them repetitive. By including two figures, the composition becomes more complex and establishes a dialogue between them. I went back into the drawing the next day to create the setting, which connects the figures and makes the drawing less of a study and more of a finished work. This drawing was created on paper taken from an old book doomed to the recycling bin. The printed words added texture to the paper and were a challenge to integrate into the work. I liked the way the text interacted with the figures and decided I didn’t want to use traditional shading or modeling to create forms. Instead I opted to leave the figures unshaded and focused on using color and value to create contrast within the piece. I think it was successful overall and a good start to the fall drawing season.

The drawing sessions will be going on for three months, and I’ll be posting here every Friday. If you have questions or comments, post them below. You can also friend me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Free Download! Click here for 7 Mini-Demonstrations: Step-by-Step Drawing for Beginners

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