Image courtesy of Ascension Digital from www.freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Ascension Digital from www.freedigitalphotos.net

Drawing, the word conjures up a range of emotions, for those that don’t know how to but want to and those that know how. Fear, terror, pain, mental anguish… no of course not, joy, love, passion, thrill these are the descriptors we are after!

Let’s face it drawing can be a major challenge so how do we take the edge off it and make it a wonderful experience?

Let’s try an analogy, learning music. If you’re like me you want to play an insturment like a demon and get all the details right straight away. But first comes the rudiments. On the drums there are various strokes to learn, then it’s suggested you run trhough these every time you sit down to play. Hmm yeah right… On the guitar or the piano there are scales to practice, more rudiments…

With drawing where are the rudiments? I think this is where I had so much difficulty drawing, a limited array or rudiments.

At its most basic level, drawing is about mark making, no matter what material you use, pen, pencil, charcoal, pastel, etc. Take the drawing device and apply it to the surface you want to leave an image on, it’s a drawing. So let’s start there.

Here’s my take on doing the drawing rudiments. It goes back WAY before you want to reproduce an object.

Try these to get yourself ‘warmed up’ to then be able to explore drawing further.

  1. Lightly draw a square on a rectangular piece of A4 or Letter sized paper. Leaving about a 5 cm margin. Draw it free hand, now start to slowly draw vertical lines fairly close together aiming to keep the lines parallel. Draw down the page and then up the page for the next line. Repeat until the square is full of lines.
  2. Do the same, BUT draw horizontal lines.
  3. Now try diagonal lines in various directions.
  4. Try it using wavy lines – explore how you can make slight differences in the waviness of the lines to create an optical effect.
  5. Create a series of long rectangles that would fit into the original square with a gap between them now repeat the above exercises.
  6. Draw small circles in a new set of rectangles, like in No 4, filling the whole space.

Now look at what you have done so far, if any of these has you memerised and it felt like time simply flew by then you are ‘in the zone’! Your aim is to build ‘drawing instrument’ skills.

If you are using a pencil, note what happens to the tip of the lead as you go, and how often  you might have to sharpen the pencil. Try ‘rolling’ the pencil in your finger tipes as you go, to keep the lines sharp and not wearing a flat spot on the tip of the pencil.

Explore this exercise by drawing in different shapes, circles, spirals, organic shapes etc. Try changing the lines in various sections. Try using a carpenters pencil and explore how the flat edge of the tip changes as you draw and roll the pencil.

As an extension exercise, do a search for ‘zentangles’ and explore how doodles can be more than just a doodle!

These exercises should be easy to do, easy to remember, easing you into a drawing state of mind.

Draw and enjoy


Steve Gray



Leave a Reply