Getting better at drawing requires no fancy tools

I’m reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards which I can’t say enough good things about (you can see my before and after drawings here). In August I set an intention to buckle down and get better at drawing. It’s something I’ve been circling around in a casual way for over a year, but I decided that without dedicating real time and focus to it it would take much longer. So I adjusted my schedule to give myself a block of Art School time each Monday–Thursday.

Edwards’ book came so highly recommended by other artists that it was my first choice. I’m learning so many enlightening and useful techniques for more accurate observational drawing and can see my drawing skills improve.

Yesterday after finishing the hatching activity in the book, I had some free time — the next project needed more time than I had. And since there was already paper taped to my drawing board and a pencil in my hand, I just kept drawing. I’ve created a ritual of lighting a candle and playing white noise sounds during class so this candle in a glass jar was right in front of me. First I did a couple of pure contour drawings (also called blind contour) to warm up and get in the right-brain zone. Then I felt inspired to work on drawing glass with its highlights and strange shadows.

simple pencil sketch of a glass jar candle on plain copy paper using principles from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

I remembered to see the negative shapes to draw the object more accurately and took my time with placing highlights. And I felt myself being in that right-brain place Edwards talks about in the book! I lost sense of time and just enjoyed the experience of making a simple little sketch of this pleasing little object.

So many people say you don’t need to buy anything special to work on your drawings. This impromptu session was a perfect reminder of that. I felt so much satisfaction from making this sketch and I think the reason was because I was actually studying my subject and not focused on what tools to use or how to use those tools well. I love all of my art supplies, but sometimes they’re more of a distraction than a help.

I hope to do more of these relaxing drawings! I’d also love to pay attention to what things I enjoy drawing and what things bring me no drawing joy. Or maybe it’s more about state of mind than the subject?

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