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In Dialogue with a Curator

I’m blown away by the different online initiatives that are being offered by local arts organizations to keep serving our community!

Durham Art Gallery Initiative

Yesterday I took part in a Virtual Studio Visit with the curator Jaclyn Quaresma of the Durham Art Gallery. The initiative gives emerging artists the opportunity to dialogue with curatorial professionals to discuss recent projects! What an opportunity!!!

It was incredible to talk through my current #DrawingChallenge project with Quaresma. She was incredibly generous with her time and gave me some great feedback. .

Pitching my project

pitching my project courtney clinton

We discussed my engagement with a 19th century drawing course (part of the Rokeby Museum archive) and the different ways that I can activate this material for a contemporary audience.

As I described the project, I talked a lot about issues of accessibility for rural artists. I was thinking about the story of Rachael Elmer who took this course while living in rural Vermont in the 1890s.

The Durham Art Gallery’s mission is to bring art to a rural region in Ontario. Discussing my ideas with Quaresma, I realised that I don’t really have an authentic connection to the issues that face rural artists.

Developing my idea

My connection to Elmer’s story is not the specifics of being a rural artist but our shared experience of learning to draw. As we learned our craft both were in situations of isolation and art became our community.

As a realist I often feel outside the main cultural community of Montreal. My own experience with correspondence education was about finding community with other students, teachers and the art.

So the guiding idea of this project is this relationship between knowledge and connectivity (and what that can mean in times of isolation). When I discovered Rachael’s story, I felt an instant kinship. Despite time and place she became a friend. What allows for this seemingly impossible friendship is our shared visual language.

Drawing Challenge: Rotating a Cube

We are back! A central theme for the drawing challenge is control. With every exercise, I ask you guys to work with intention. Our aim is to think about every line that we put down on the page.

So why am I such a control freak? Isn’t art about self expression and creativity!

Absolutely, but there are different ways to achieve that creative freedom. We can achieve freedom by blowing up the system and taking a no rules approach. There is some amazing art that has come from this kind of approach.

But we can also achieve creative freedom by mastering the language of drawing. Great poems and plays are created by writers who have a mastery over written language. They know how to use vocabulary and grammar to create and bring to life imaginary scenes and characters.

Beyond the fine arts, architects, fashion designers and industrial designers all use drawing to create something brand new. For me this is the ultimate power of realist art: the ability to create new recognizable worlds.

This week’s challenge

For this week’s challenge we are going to start to think about how we can change and manipulate our subject. We are going to start off simple but this first step on a journey to learn how to draw from imagination.

For this week’s challenge you will need two coloured pens and a slightly thicker marker. I would recommend a blue and a red ballpoint pen and a sharpie marker.

For an object, we are going to use the cube. From a cube we can draw almost any object in perspective. Our challenge is to rotate a cube from a front facing position to a two sided position.

How to draw a front facing cube

A front facing cube is also known as a cube in 1 point perspective. We see two sides of the cube. The front side and the top side. The front side is defined by two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. These lines are parallel to the edges of our page. The top side is defined by two sets of lines. The horizontal lines that define the top and bottom edge are parallel to the horizontal lines of our front side. What gives the cube a sense of space, are the two length lines recede towards a central point on the horizon line.

Step 1: Horizon line

Draw a large box (6 x 8 inches) that will represent our page. Near the top of the box draw a horizontal line. This line will represent our horizon line. The horizon line represents the eye level of the artist.

Next mark a vertical line down the centre of the box. In a new colour mark a small line where the horizon line and the vertical centre line intersect. This will be our vanishing point (Vp1).

Step 2: Base

First step is to draw a square in one point perspective. This square will act as the base for our cube.

When we draw an object in perspective we always start from the bottom and build up our object. We can think of ourselves like construction workers – you would never start with the roof.

Near the bottom of the page mark two horizontal lines. These will represent the front and back edge of our square. To find the length lines of our square we draw two lines that start from the corners of our front edge and recede towards our vanishing point.

Step 3: Front side

Now let’s indicate the front side. Start by drawing two vertical lines that represent the two side edges of our cube. Indicate the height of the front side by drawing a horizontal line joining the two top corners of the two vertical lines.

Step 4: Top side

Still thinking like a builder, before we build that top side we need to first build the back wall of our cube. At the back edge of our base square, draw two vertical lines . Don’t worry too much about their height. Just make them high enough that they could support our top side.

To determine their true height we are going to pull two diagonal lines. The lines start at the vanishing point and come all the way to the two corners of the top horizontal of our front side. On their way from the vanishing point to those front corners, the lines will cross through our back vertical lines. This point of intersection marks the top of our back side.

Draw a horizontal line joining the two back vertical lines.

To really indicate your cube draw over the main lines using a thicker marker.

Rotating the cube to see two sides

Ok now we are going to rotate our cube. Right now we can see two sides: a front and a top. To make a more dynamic image we are going to rotate this cube so that we can see three sides: top and a left and right side.

In two point perspective the only parallel lines are the vertical height lines. The width and length lines of our cubes will recede towards two vanishing points (Vp1, Vp2).

Step 1: Horizon line

Draw a large box (6 x 8 inches) that will represent our page. Near the top of the box draw a horizontal line. This line will represent our horizon line.

Next mark a vertical line down the centre of the box.

Mark two points on the outer edges of your horizon line (Vp1, Vp2), make sure that these points are outside of your main box. These two points will represent our two vanishing points.

To draw an object properly in two point perspective, it’s important to keep the vanishing points outside of our drawing page. If the vanishing points get too close the object starts to look warped.

NOTE: with one point the vanishing point is on the centre line of the page. For two points the vanishing points are outside of the picture. 

Step 2: Base (two vanishing points)

Just like Drake, we will always start from the bottom and build our way to the top. ;D

So let’s draw a square in two point perspective.

Mark two points near the bottom of your box on the vertical central line. These two points will represent the front and back corner of our square.

Let’s start from the left side. The length lines that define the left side will all originate from the left vanishing point (Vp1). Draw two diagonal lines starting from the left vanishing point (Vp1) and ending at the two points representing the front and back corner of our square.

Repeat the same process on the right side. The length lines that define the right side will all originate from the right vanishing point (Vp2). Draw two diagonal lines starting from the right vanishing (Vp2) point and ending at the two points representing the front and back corner of our square.

The lines from the left and right vanishings points will cross at four points. These four points represent the four corners of our square. Use a thicker marker to trace over the lines of our base square.

Step 3: Left side

Now let’s build our first side wall. Let’s start with the left side.

First draw two vertical lines representing the squares centre edge and the left edge of our cube. Again, don’t worry too much about the height. Better to make them too long than too short.

To determine the height of our cube mark a point on the centre edge (which is also the vertical centre line of our box). To find the top edge of this left side, draw a line from the left vanishing point (vp1) to the point you just marked on the centre edge.

Step 4: Right Side

Now let’s build our next side wall: the right side.

First draw two vertical lines representing the squares centre edge and the left edge of our cube.

The centre edge is shared by both the right and left sides. So the height of our right side has already been determined by the height of our left side.

To find the top edge of this right side, draw a line from the right vanishing point (vp2) to the top of the centre edge.

Step 5: Top Side

This last stage mimics the process we used to build the base of our square. We already have the two front edges of our top side. Now we need to draw the two back edges.

Let’s start with the back left edge. Intuitively we might think we should start from the left vanishing point (left edge = left vanishing point). But look at your bottom base square. That back left edge is defined by a line coming from the right vanishing point.

If we think about it, the back left edge mirrors the front right line. So it makes sense that these two lines originate from the same vanishing point.

So to draw that back left edge of our top square we draw a line from the right vanishing point and pull it all the way to the top of the left vertical edge of our cube.

To find the back right edge we follow the same process. In this case we draw a line from the left vanishing point and pull it all the way to the top of the right vertical edge of our cube.

We have a lot of construction lines. To see our cube more clearly let’s draw over the main lines with a thicker black marker.

Selfie: #Neutral

This painting is called #neutral. The aim was to address a conceptual limitation in the series of Selfie paintings I have been making.

Context

#Study (WIP), Selfie, 2020, graphite on paper

In this painting I portray myself like a marble sculpture. So much of the tradition of realist art references Roman and Greek sculpture. This kind of sculpture is what we call ideal art. It presents an essential idea of the human form. It’s not meant to represent a specific person but an idea of the average person. When artists want to express a universal message they will use this kind of “generalized” figure to say this is everyone’s story. For a long time these generalised figures have been presented as white. In both fine art and pop culture we’ve treated white culture as neutral or most relatable.

There is a lot of great art right now that is challenging this idea. I think of Kent Monkman or Kehinde Wiley who make ideal art not only with different bodies but also with a different intended audience.

Acknowledging bias

With my own Selfie series, I’m asking my viewers to look beyond the subject (me) and think about the history and process of image making. I’m asking them not to think about me as an individual. In this way I’m treating myself as a neutral subject. .

To paint this I used both a neutral and a red paint. By expressing the color of my skin, I want to acknowledge that there is no such thing as a neutral figure. We all have an identity and that informs our understanding of the world. It’s scary to admit our own shortsightedness. But I think in our divisive culture, it’s the only way forward.

Drawing Challenge: Teapot from Life

We are back! This week we are doing another drawing from life challenge! Working from life is where we really test our ability to analyse visual information.

We are doing a very similar drawing to last week’s exercise but don’t be discouraged if this feels a lot more challenging. When we copy a photo or another drawing the information has already been flattened. When we work from life we have to translate 3D space into a 2D pictorial language.

So why bother? Why not just work from photos or drawings? Working form life teaches the artist to think about the form of an object. Learning to decode the structure of objects teaches us not only how to copy but also how to construct reality. For any artists looking to create imaginary images, characters and worlds this ability to draw constructively is essential.

This week’s challenge

For this week’s challenge you will need to find a teapot. Don’t worry too much if your teapot looks different to mine.

My aim is to teach you a process not to teach you how to draw my teapot. Read through the instructions below and use them as a guide for drawing your teapot. Don’t copy exactly my lines and shapes.

If you are feeling really intimidated, do two drawings. First do a drawing from my photo of a teapot and use my sketches as your guide.

Now do your own drawing from your teapot and try and recreate the three steps that I demonstrate but using the shapes that define your teapot!

How to start the drawing

To start our drawing we are going to block-in the teapot by reducing its parts to basic flat shapes. Start by blocking in the general height and width of the teapot with 4 lines. For now the two verticals lines will represent the furthest edge of the handle and the spout. Next draw a vertical centre line.

The body of our teapot looks like the bottom half of a triangle. The two sides slope inward. We can imagine that these two lines would eventually meet at a point. Already we understand what is being represented. The lid of our teapot can be represented with a triangle. We don’t need to show any of the detail – we just want to show the overall space that the lid will take up.

Even though we have only used a couple lines and flat shapes we can already imagine our teapot.

Top and bottom side

To give our teapot a sense of structure – to translate it from a 2D to a 3D drawing we need to indicate the base and the top side. Take your time and compare the length of your top side to the length of the body of your teapot. A common mistake is to make that top side too narrow. Sp measure twice.

For my teapot the top and bottom side are a circle shape. Because we are seeing these shapes in perspective we don’t see a circle we see an ellipse or a squashed circle.

Even though we can’t see the whole ellipse it’s important to indicate even the back side that is invisible to our eye. Again our goal with this drawing isn’t just to represent what we see but to understand the structure of our teapot.

To help us draw our ellipse we first draw a centre line and mark off the length and width of our ellipse. With all of this information we can now draw our ellipse. My teapot has four ellipses. One for the top and bottom side of my teapots body (blue). One for the base of my lid (orange). And one for the bottom side of my teapot base.

Finally, let’s indicate the outer edge of the teapots spout and the handle.

How to clean up your lines

Now you have enough information to add the details that make the drawing interesting and dynamic. Take your time adding these last shapes.

When you are satisfied with your drawing, you can take a darker or thicker pen to draw over your lines. Make sure to take your time on this final step. Keep looking at your teapot. It’s easy to fall into automatic mode here and lose some of the subtlety of your lines.

Drawing Challenge : Line

I am so excited to say that we are one month into the drawing challenge! For those of you who have been drawing with me since week one or two, Thank You! It has been soo much fun to see all of your awesome work!

Drawing Challenge Student week 3

For those of you joining us for the first or secound time, welcome! To find out more about the drawing challenge, I’ve posted an overview of the challenge here.

This week’s challenge

This week we are going to work from a really great drawing book on ornament design, Cusack’s Freehand Ornament, by C. Armstrong. The book was printed back in 1895 and a free PDF is available online.

For a little perspective, these exercises were intended for school children. That’s right a hundred years ago, kids as young as 12 were expected to have fundamental drawing skills.

In his introduction Armstrong writes:

Art is long, one must not be discouraged, but must give the subject more time and more brain effort, by which in the end they will succeed. It is to be remembered that not the fact of being born clever makes a genius, but that infinite trouble is the mother of genius.

So with that in mind let’s take on one of the biggest challenges in drawing : Line Quality.

The challenge with lines is that they require practice. There is only so much of the process that you can intellectualize. To get beautiful straight or curved lines you have to practice. That means making a lot of ugly lines and that can feel discouraging.

But there are tricks to help attack this challenge. Building on the block in technique we learned in weeks 1 and 2, Let’s explore a process that makes our job simpler.

How to start the drawing

drawing challenge

To start our drawing we are going to block-in the glass by reducing its parts to basic flat shapes. They will be represented by a squared semi-circle. For the stem we ignore all the detail of the final drawing and we use an upside down triangle. and for the base a secound triangle. Already we understand what is being represented.

Work big to small

drawing challenge courntey clinton

As we start to add detail, we want to keep in mind the principal of big to small. This means we start by adding the largest shapes.

The upside down triangle should act as borders for the new shapes you are drawing. Think about the negative space between the curved lines and the edges of the triangle. Make sure that your new shapes stay within your triangle. If they don’t seem to fit, go back a step and redraw that triangle.

As you add these large shapes, take measurements. Compare the size of the curved part of the stem with the top of the glass. These two shapes are very close in length. Make sure that is true of your drawing.

How to clean up your lines

Now you have enough information to add the details that make the drawing interesting and dynamic. Take your time adding these last shapes.

When you are satisfied with your drawing, you can take a darker or thicker pen to draw over your lines. Make sure to take your time on this final step. Keep looking at the original drawing. It’s easy to fall into automatic mode here and lose some of the subtlety of your lines.

 

 

Composition

Composition is the link between  abstract and realist art! By taking a deep dive into composition, I want to show what these two genres have in common!

Illustration and AbEx

 

heffel jack bush composition cresendo spring auction
Jack Bush, Crescendo, 1974, 28 1/2 x 36 5/8 in (part of Heffel Spring Auction)

To illustrate the link, I’ve chosen two works by the great Canadian artist Jack Bush. By day he was an illustrator. By night he was an abstract painter.

These two genres look very different but what unifies them is a really strong composition or design. At it’s most basic, composition is about thinking through the placement of the different elements that make up the picture.

In Bush’s abstract work he places color in a way that conveys a sense of motion. In this painting the color tiles seem to be falling in space.

jack bush illustration art composition

In his illustration he uses proportion to create a sense of atmosphere. The antique candlestick is much larger than the main figure. It creates a sense that the figure is surrounded by antique objects. There is only one object but we understand that she is in some kind of antique store. This information is communicated through composition.

Composition Strategies

richard diebenkorn scisors clinton graphic traffic

Good composition gives an artwork an emotional quality. It elevates a picture of a pair of scissors from an industrial design sketch to something we call fine art!

Composition is a tough concept to pin down. There are no set rules for what makes a great composition. But there are strategies you can learn to approach composition from a more analytical point of view.

Diebenkorn’s Scissors

The American painter Richard Diebenkorn was a master of composition. A contemporary of the Abstract Expressionist movement, Diebenkorn experimented with both abstract and realist painting throughout his career.

Drawing from life was a big part of his practice. He produced a prolific number of pen and ink wash drawings of still life subjects and life models. He would often turn these into more abstract paintings.  In this way he used his realist drawing as a kind of composition strategy.

Placement

ink wash scisors diebenkorn graphic traffic composition

One of his most famous motifs was of a pair of opened scissors.

There is sooo much we can learn about composition by studying these works. Notice how the subject never changes: it is always the same opened scissors.

What changes is the orientation or size of the scissors and their placement. By making these simple changes the narrative and emotive quality of the scissors changes with each image.

In this way the first principal of composition is placement.

Drawing Challenge: Composition

For this week’s challenge I’m calling on all abstract artists to join us! This exercise is a crash course in composition. We are going to learn how to place the different elements of a drawing. The purpose is to come up with a system to insure that our pictures have an interesting and engaging design. Today’s challenge is a kind of analytical approach to creativity.

We are going to learn the thumbnail approach to help overcome the stress induced by the dreaded white page!

What is soooo cool about today’s lesson is that it can be applied to both realist and abstract art. So in a way I’m going to challenge the misnomer that these two genres of art are somehow separate!

Choosing our source material

For today’s challenge we are going to borrow elements from two old master ink drawings.

We are going to use part of the Roman ruin from the drawing below:

And you can choose one of the following characters drawn by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo:

Simplifying and flattening our main shapes

We are going to do a series of very small, quick, drawings so it is important to simplify our main shapes. No detail. We want to reduce each element into a flat shape we can draw in less than 30 secounds.

Thumbnail

Often I will get really excited about an idea I have for a drawing and I will start a very finished version before trying out different approaches. I will get two-thirds of the way through my drawing and all of a sudden a better composition will hit me.

By taking the time to rough out a bunch of small versions of our final drawing, we avoid this kind of mistake. Also it’s a great exercise to start to develop your own personal aesthetic or theory of design. Our goal is to do somewhere between 6 and 12 quick sketches. We want to try out a variety of different compositions.

Placement of shapes

First step is to block out a rectangles on a blank page. It should measure about 2 inches or the length of your thumb. Keep your thumbnail small. By keeping it small we make it impossible to include detail in out drawing. At this stage detail is our enemy.

Start by making your rectangle into an evenly spaced grid. Create three equal columns and three equal rows. Drawing corner to corner, draw an X across your rectangle.  Repeat the same process for the next 2 thumbnails. For now keep your rectangles the same shape and dimension.

Using these grids we can think of our canvas in terms of different quadrants. Using your three thumbnails, lets try three different designs where we keep the architectural shape in the top left quadrant. For each drawing lets place our figure shape in a different column.

If you like one of those designs, now try 2 to 3 designs where you keep the figure fixed and instead move your architectural shape from left to right.

Size of shapes

Another way to vary our design is to play with the size of our shapes. Grid out three more thumbnails (3 x 3). Choose your favorite design from the last exercise.

Let’s say your design has the figure in the bottom right of the canvas and the architectural shape in the top left corner. Again let’s keep the architectural shape fixed. In the next two thumbnails, let’s grow our figure. First, Let’s take it all the way to the top row. For our third version, we can actually grow the figure to a size beyond that of the canvas. Let’s make it so big that you only see the lower half of the figure.

Again choose the design you most like and let’s try two new versions where you keep the figure fixed and grow and shrink the architectural shape.

Shape of your canvas

Working this small gives us ultimate freedom. Another great way to inspire new designs is to change the shape of your rectangle. Try flipping your rectangle from a portrait format to a landscape format. Or try varying the proportions of your rectangle. It is amazing how much the shape and orientation of your page will inspire composition!

Using line to guide your design

Instead of using a grid, we can use line to help us think about the spacing and relationship of the different elements in our picture.

A couple lines to keep in mind are:

1. Cross

2. S curve

3. C curve

4. L curve

5. Diagonal line

Start your composition by indicating one of these lines. Now think about how you can place your elements so that their positioning suggests the line. To better understand look at the following example by Andrew Loomis:

Final drawing

The aim is to produce at least 12 different thumbnail designs. Each new design should build on idea discovered in the last sketch. Once you have come up with a really great design, do a larger more finished version of the drawing!

For any abstract artists, why not use this design as a starting point for your next painting? Or you can play with the shapes. Reduce them to something even more simple. Or changes some of the lines from straight to wiggly. The possibilities are endless!

Ode to Collaboration

I’m in the middle of an intense period for application writing and I’ve been thinking a lot about all of the invisible labour that goes into an arts career. Being an artist is a lot like being an entrepreneur. Not only do you make the work, you also have to get it out to a public.

The later half can take up a lot of time. If you look at the careers of so many great artists they all had support from a collaborator (usually their wife).

My collaborator

In my own practice I’m equally indebted to a handful of people who have quietly offered their expertise and helped me in so many ways over the years. I wanted to pay homage to a key collaborator, my sister, Lou Laurence. The image is a painting I did of her years ago. It’s based on a photo from a rainy summer month we sat on our front porch conspiring to become creators.

For half a decade she has acted as my editor and chief collaborator. Not only has she helped me correct countless applications and artist statements, she has been the person I go to when I need feedback on a new idea. A musician and a total brain, she has helped me refine and articulate my work and my artistic vision. To have this kind of collaboration has been central to my development as an artist.

Value of Collaboration

Because of the familial nature of these partnerships this work gets overlooked. It doesn’t show up on our tax statement and so it doesn’t exist. It’s a problem because it means we have a false understanding of what it means to make creative work.

Making visible my own community aims to challenge the stereotype of the independent artistic that gets discovered thanks to some divine force. It’s a reminder that we all depend on collaboration and community.

Drawing Challenge : Still Life

Alright it is week two of the #InkCovid19 drawing challenge. Last week we started with a couple master copies. Our aim was to try and deconstruct these drawings. Our aim was to understand how an artist thinks about showing 3D space on a flat surface.

This week the training wheels come off. We are going live. I challenge you guys to work from life! I want you to set up your own still life and try drawing it.

Nothing is more challenging or rewarding than drawing from life. When we work from a photo or another artists drawing part of the job is already done. Those images have flattened space. When you work from life, you have to think about how you can use lines to recreate form and space.

Set up your still life

So to take on this drawing challenge you will need the following items:

  1. Toilet Paper Role
  2. Orange (or any round fruit)
  3. Salt shaker
  4. Thick book
  5. Large book (with limited images or text on cover)

Set up these items using the above image as a reference. Spend some time trying to match the composition. Think about the relationship between the different items. Look at how the orange crops the bottom left corner of the toilet paper role. Look at the salt shaker. Most of it’s form is seen against the table top. Only the top part of the shaker is silhouetted against the purple background.

Getting your still life set up accurate is about practicing your observation skills. It’s about training your eyes to notice these kind of detailed relationships between the different objects we are drawing. All of this information will be used in the drawing process.

Block in: Big to small

Just like we did for our last drawing we are going to start with a very general black in. If you only had 4 or 5 lines how would you represent this group of objects. Think about the highest point (top of the toilet paper) and the lowest point (bottom of the book). Now mark the furthest point to the left (front edge of the book) and the furthest point to the left  (left edge of the slat shaker).

Orange our unit of measurement

Once you have a large general shape we want to start blocking in the different objects. We want to be very careful and make sure we get the right size for each object.

How can we measure that distance? We need a unit of measurement. You can make anything your unit of measurement, for this example let’s use the orange. Stick your arm out nice and straight with a pencil in hand. With one eye closed the pencil can act like a ruler. Using the top of the pencil and your thumb measure the height of the orange. Loosely block in your orange on your page. With a straight arm measure your orange again and use that measurement to get the relative size and placement of the other objects.

If I measure the orange in my picture. I can see that that orange measurement will get me from the top of my orange to the top of my toilet paper. Keep taking measurements and making marks on your paper.

Horizon line and object tops

Now that we have the general shapes of our objects and their placement we want to add some detail. Our initial goal was to show 3D space on a flat piece of paper. The way that we can best express space is to show the volume or the form of each object. This means we want to express the different sides or planes of the objects.

For now we are going to keep things simple. Our goal is to express the top and the sides of of each object.

To do this we have to think about perspective and the horizon line. Again let’s keep things simple. The horizon line represents our eye level of the artist.

Generally speaking where is the horizon line in this drawing? Look at the top side of the toilet paper. Can you see the whole made by the cardboard cylinder? Or look at the orange. Can you see the flower stalk of the orange? Because we can see all of this information that makes up the tops of these objects we know that the horizon line or the eye level is above our still life.

If these objects were placed on a high shelf above our eye level we would not see the top side of our objects.

Back to our drawing, measure the height of the top side of each object compared to it’s vertical sides. A common mistakes when you first do this kind of exercise is to make that top end too small. So measure twice. To make your drawing even more 3D ad some simple shading to the vertical side of each object.

When we get more advanced we will use a lighting set up to make shadows on the objects as a way to indicated the different sides. For now I want us to think analytically. So we are using shade to indicate for our self the difference between the top and vertical sides of each object.

If you get this far, amazing! Move your object around and try a second set up.

 

Drawing Challenge : Copying

So with social distancing taking effect it is time to get a hobby! Why not learn to draw? For anyone with time, paper and a pen copying old master drawings is a great way to learn to draw. Below you will find a list of high res drawings that are great drawings to learn from.

Join our growing community of art lovers! Thanks to the CBC for sharing this drawing challenge!

Choose a drawing

Set up Art Exercise:

Grab a pen and paper and a large book (9 x 12) that you can lean against the table. You never want to draw on a flat surface. Tape your paper to the book and lean it against the table, resting on your lap. Now you can look at the paper head on. When the paper is lying on a flat table you are seeing everything in perspective and making your job twice as hard.

Choose one of the below drawings. You can print it out and tape it to a wall or you can use the image from your screen. Make sure the drawing is far enough away. You want a least one arms length between you and your subject.

How to start

Never start with the eye. We are going to work big to small. First try and block out the big shape of your drawing. Imagine if you only had 4 to 5 big lines. How would you represent this drawing?

Get the right measurements

Now you want to take some measurements. What’s the middle point of the drawing? If it’s a portrait draw a dash line to indicate where you would place the eyes, the base of the nose and he middle of the mouth.

To make measurements stick your arm out so it’s straight and close one of your eyes. Use your pen as a kind of ruler. Measure the space from the chin to the eyes and than from the eyes to the top of the head. They should be pretty close. Now check those same measurements on your drawing. Keep measuring different sections and compare the measurements of the drawing with your copy. Try and do this for at least 15 minutes.

How to add shadow & detail

Now you can start to ad detail to your outlines. show the roundness of the line outline and started adding the features (eyes, nose, mouth).

When you are feeling really good about placement, it’s time to start looking for shadow shapes. In all of these drawings the artists have used line to show shadow. Before we copy the lines lets try and outline the shapes of the different shadows. Draw lines that represent the boarder between the light area (no lines) and the dark areas (groups of lines).

How to get feedback

If you want to get feedback on your drawing tag me to your copy on instagram @clinton.courtney