Some of my favourite exercises from a drawing class I attended at the School of Visual Arts in New York City are:
- Drawing by Touch: do not look while someone places an object in a brown paper bag. With your non-drawing hand, reach in and feel the object. With your drawing hand, draw what you feel. No peeking! It can be a lot of fun to have several artists do this exercise, feeling and drawing each object in turn. It's amazing how differently each artist will interpret the same object.
- Fast Sketching: if you have the luxury of a model, have them do a couple of 2 minute poses, then several 1 minute poses, then a few 30 second poses. Just keep drawing on the same sheet of paper, overlapping the images. If you are using charcoal, you can wipe down between sketches.
- Continuous Focus, Continuous Line: this is a classic exercise where you look at your subject, never at the drawing. Place your pencil on the paper to start, and do not lift it until the drawing is complete. Do not look at the drawing paper, only at your subject!
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And another helpful book with exercises to shake up your approach to drawing:
"Drawing Projects: an exploration of the language of drawing" by Mick Maslen and Jack Southern. Some of my favourite projects in this book are:
- dots and manic marks: using density and energy of marks, no lines
- a beautiful scribble: no contour lines
- tactile self portrait: feel your face and draw it
- taking a line for a walk: continuous line drawing capturing a 360 degree experience
Give some of these exercises a try.
Next week, we'll look at what make your drawing uniquely your own.