Artshed Brisbane Artshed Brisbane

How to Draw - best basic exercises


Everyone has thousands of bad drawings in them. The sooner they get them out, the sooner they can do the good drawings!

Get some A3 sized paper, either bond or preferably cartridge, but even butcher's paper or newsprint is fine. Make sure you aren't worried about wasting it. Leave the really precious paper for later.

Every drawing you have admired, is the result of countless hours of practice (except those done by children and animals). You have to train yourself through practice also. If you're not prepared to practice, then cheat. Buy yourself a projector or digital camera and do what David Hockney believes many of history's masters have done with a camera obscura. Trace. It's much less rewarding but might give you some good results. If you want to play and practice – to develop eye-brain-muscle coordination and muscle memory, just as athletes or martial artists do, then welcome to a world of joy, and sometimes of pain. The following exercises are fundamental to all good visual creativity. They not only enable you to draw better but they hold the keys which unlock your creativity; and a great source of wellbeing. We cannot stress the value of these exercises enough. To see Dr Manuel demonstrate them on his COLOUR IN YOUR LIFE programme, click any of the four below. They are:
  1. gestural drawing
  2. contour drawing
  3. weight or mass drawing
  4. gestural drawingcontour drawingweight or mass drawingmodelled drawing
These drawing exercises were first comprehensively described by Kimon Nicolaides in the 1920's in the USA. His book "The Natural Way to Draw" is very worthwhile, despite being a little heavy going as regards the exercises. If you are persistent enough to follow his programme you will draw like a fiend in only months! The books by Kaupelis and by Betty Edwards (Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain) also base their exercises on these principles. Most worthwhile drawing programmes use some form or variation of these.