How-To-Teach-Drawing Conclusions

“ In order to apprehend meaning in our experience, it is essential for us to see, and drawing is the instrument of the inquiring eye that teaches us how to see,” The Language of Drawing, Edward Hill

Carol Vick's Safety Pins

William Soo's Self Portrait Series

Learning to draw well is about learning how to see correctly. When you draw something you must see it in a different way. My greatest successes in teaching my students how to draw came from focusing first on the blind and modified contour drawing process. In this approach, you must be guided by your sense of touch. You must convince yourself that you are touching the edge of whatever you are looking at. In reality your eye is simply seeing that spot and as you move your eyes along the edge of the subject, your hand moves at the same rate.

This is considered and named the natural way to draw. It is about developing eye hand coordination. As your eye moves your hand moves to record what it is seeing. An analogy that I have always liked is that the correct way to contour draw can be compared to climbing over a mountain,you very carefully place your foot and hand on every rock and crevice. The incorrect way to contour draw is compared to flying over that mountain in an airplane. Contour drawing can at first look distorted when you are using the blind contour approach where you do not look at your paper while you draw, The modified approach allows you to flicker your eyes up and down as you draw. Soon you will be amazed at your results.

In my art classes we drew simple objects and then worked up to more complex subject matter and groupings of subject matter. First year students draw their hands, shoes, bottles, boxes. Second year students draw models in different poses and third and fourth year students draw live models with still life and different props and costumes. Media and paper and subject matter changed daily to keep the enthusiasm high and the experimental possibilities happening.

Ralph Lauren Grid Drawing

The Drawing Process:

“At the heart of all drawing is an interactive process of seeing, visualizing, and expressing images. The images we see give rise to our discovery of the world; the images we visualize enable us to think in visual terms and to understand what we see; the images we draw allow us to express and communicate our thoughts and perceptions”

“In drawing, we make marks on a surface in an attempt to graphically represent our perception and understanding of the outer reality we see and inner imagery of the mind’s eye,” Drawing A Creative Process, Francis D. K. Ching

Representation Drawings: “With representational drawing,we seek to accurately record what we see in reality. It is drawing things we see before us. Drawing is not simply a skill but a discipline which trains the eye,the mind, and the hand in accurate seeing,correct perception, and the making of legible representations.”

Shopping Bags Still Life

“Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain one once the child grows up.” Pablo Picasso

Drawing for most young people is a natural tendency. What challenges an art educator is how to preserve and further develop this tendency. Meeting this challenge requires us to plan for a wide range of drawing experiences. Plan both what the students will draw and what they will draw on and what media with which they will draw.

Pat Nowak’s Self Portrait

Lead Pencils: The most familiar drawing tool and my favorite is the graphite pencil also called the “lead” pencil. Children of all ages used it for scribbling often times on walls. With the spirit of a young child’s enthusiasm, one can experiment and enjoy the many ways of using a pencil.What kinds of pencils are on the market? What are the characteristics of each? They are numbered to indicate the degree of hardness and softness with a gradation from hard to soft. Hard pencils are #6H,5H,4H,3H,2H,1H,H.Hard pencils have more clay baked into the lead and leave a very light line. Soft pencils are #HB,1B,2B,3B,4B,5B,6B. Soft pencils leave a heavy dark line without the need of much pressure. They also respond easily to rubbing to creategray areas in drawing, A harder pencil creates sharp cold lines.

Christy's Cowgirl

Colored Pencils: There are two distinct kinds of color pencils:those that used to be called “map” pencils and have a range of hues available.

Watercolor Pencils: Water soluble or watercolor pencils can be found in art supply stores. You can draw with the watercolor pencils, then bring water to them. You can dip the pencils in the water and draw leaving a much darker line. Or you can roll the pencil through wet areas letting the pigment bleed into those areas to add colors.

China Markers: The china marking pencil with it’s soft, crayon like filling offers the possibility of fascinating results on paper and is ideal for drawing on acetate.

Conte Crayon: The conte crayon has many of the same uses as the wax crayon. It is a French clay crayon that comes in white, earth reds and black, and brown.

Charcoal: the blackest of all dry media is an excellent tool for working with value studies and the subtle changes from light to dark.

Paul Brigg's Line and Foliage in Marker

Felt tip pens and markers:  make possible a great variety of uses for drawing.

Ink: Pen and ink and ink and brush can also provide surprising results. So many traditional and untraditional tools can provide endless hours of play for the creative mind mixed with an active imagination.

Contour Drawing Continuations: After a series of 7 or more contour drawings, students select their favorite line drawing then continue in their media of choice. Above, Carrie posed as cowgirl while Christy drew her first in line then in Prismacolors. Colorless blending  is shown in Paul’s marker rendering of the plants in the art room. . Pam

added value to her self portrait. Shopping Bags became a still life in value using pencil. Safety pins and self portraiture are shown above with great success. What would you enjoy drawing? What have you drawn before now? Try your hand at it and get your eyes to see things in a new and different way. The Chinese believed that once you have drawn your first one thousand things then you can begin to see in this new way.

Recommended Reading:

Volume III: Drawing Conclusions

This volume emphasizes drawing, which is the most universal form of art expression. Educators will learn how to instruct students effectively in realizing the shift that must occur, within the students’ minds, in order to successfully draw what they see. Numerous traditional and experimental approaches to drawing and seeing processes are introduced.

Available in Art Catalog

This is one of my very favorite books on learning the way to see in order to draw.


Lots of creative drawing ideas in this fun and informative volume.

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1 Comment

  • Roanne says:

    These are rlealy nice. good to see you back. I agree about mientes paper. I don't care for it. Look forward to the next offerings!

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