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  • I Can't Draw

    I'm trying to follow Toni's inspired Let's Talk About Designing thread but it's not easy for me. Why? I have no innate drawing ability. Moreover, I feel terribly self-conscious when I pick up a pencil and try to draw.

    Would some kind soul please take the trouble of guiding me through a drawing and explaining how it's produced? I don't even know where to start. My only experience drawing was at school, mostly resenting the fact that I had to embarrass myself by producing daubs when I had a perfectly good camera at home. What a pity our art teacher didn't inspire the class.

    I know Carl recently posted a link to an online drawing course, but that sort of learning doesn't suit me.

    There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
    (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)

  • #2
    Hi Gill, Long post, get a coffee!

    Betty Edwards has a wonderful book entitled Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.It is available everywhere.

    I am a firm believer that anyone can draw. If you have the hand eye co-ordination to push a piece of wood through a saw and follow a line then you can draw.
    The difference is with the saw you are following a line. The line is a visual reference for you to track.
    When drawing the reference is in your head.

    Lets take drawing a hand for example.
    If a person who doesn't draw is asked to draw a hand panic sets in.
    They think of the elements in a hand. 4 fingers a thumb and a palm.
    Then they draw a circle and 5 little sticks. The brain says "Yes that looks like a hand" JOB DONE!
    You visualized the hand your pencil followed that visualization and you ended up with what you visualized.
    The Brain is a powerful tool that fills in the gaps. Anything that is familiar, well the brain says why do you need that, everyone knows what it is lets move onto something more our style.

    So the key to drawing is visualizing in greater detail and having the brain tell the hand and the pencil to follow these lines more precisely.

    So going back to the hand example. Instead of drawing the familiar hand, that the brain says is boring, try drawing the space around the hand, that isn't so familiar. You will be looking at something in a different way now. You will trace the outline in your mind and with your pencil.
    Then you can turn to each finger and draw the creased, the nail, the nail bed, the hairs, even the freckles.
    Each element is treated equally.

    An exercise you can do to hone your skills of perception is to take a picture, turn it upside down so the top of the object is facing you. Then draw the spaces on the picture.
    Because the picture is upside down it is not as familiar. You will find your eyes hands and mind follow the objects in the image much more easily.
    Once you have complete the drawing you can turn it the right side up and you will be amazed at how much your drawing has improved.

    Well that is the gist of Betty Edwards book. You will be amazed at the development you will achieve in drawing. Most non drawers, stop visualizing at around 9 or 10 years old. That's why many people still draw stick figures. The mind says I know this stuff, lets move on.

    Hope this helps. Carl

    PS hows is the coffee?
    "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
    Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21


    • #3
      Gill, when I started the thread I didn't even consider the fact that learning to draw would be an issue. How ignorant of me. Sorry.

      I've always drawn. For me it was a way of communication, a place to be when I needed to get away... lol, usually from lectures in school! Giggle.
      When I think back as to how I learned to draw, I recall colouring alot as a child and that evolved to tracing. From there I doodled continually. I think it is fun to walk through the house or office right now and see doodles. They are no longer mine.... but seems Sue is a doodle addict. These doodles will often work their way into more suitable drawings, then patterns.

      I believe a lot can be learned from tracing. Hand control, proportions, shading.... in college, I studied architecture and we took a great deal of time learning to draw but it was much more structured. (no pun intended). For years afterward, freehand drawing eluded me. I always reached for a straightedge when I reached for a pencil. I got back into drawing again with the children. For a toddler, colouring and drawing again became a form of communication and expression. My son would not talk, but we communicated through arts. Oddly it started the same way.... with colouring... then tracing....back to doodles.... the circle began. I've tried hard to not reach for that straight edge anymore.

      In my teens my mother wanted me to work with oil paints but that was something we simply couldn't afford. Pencils were always available. When I could, I'd take books out of the library on "how to draw" which often highlighted the basic shapes and how they would relate to eachother when drawing the human body or animal. Those were my two favorite things to draw back then. These books were hard to learn from, for me. Sue has many books on artists and art, drawing and painting. Every now and then I will pick one up but they don't hold my attention. I can't recommend them for the learning process however they must help a lot of people...

      I'll still break out the crayons, pencils or markers....and that would be my suggestion to anyone wanting to learn to draw.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Gill
        I'm trying to follow Toni's inspired Let's Talk About Designing thread but it's not easy for me. Why? I have no innate drawing ability. Moreover, I feel terribly self-conscious when I pick up a pencil and try to draw.


        Try getting yourself a sketch book. Sit and doodle in it. No one needs to know it exists, and in time your drawings will become more familar to you helping you to overcome the self consciousness.

        Just an idea


        • #5
          Gill...I visited the website Carl mentioned when he first made the post and now it's on my favorites list. I downloaded the tutorial on drawing the human head/ face for my 6YO grand daughter, Megan, because she loves to draw. At the time you were only allowed to download one lesson every two weeks due to bandwidth limitations but that has changed now. I agree with Toni, get a sketch pad and down load a lesson that interests you. I found that I use it more than Megan does!! When I get bored out at the camp I use it to keep my mind occupied. They provide a lot of axioms for proper placement, and relative size of eyes, ears etc. Almost, if not all of my "first drafts" of my segmented portraits are pencil tracings from photographs of the general shapes of the subjects. (I also cannot draw) I then go back and spend hours reshaping eyes and other features so they will all flow together as segments. I took a couple courses in mechanical drawing and do pretty well with perspective in geometric shapes with hard angles and straight lines. The human form still eludes me. As Carl said, I still try to draw what my mind sees and not what my eyes see. Once my brain processes the image it presents it in its simplest form. I do a few pierced portraits and all I can say about that is," I really appreciate Coyote". LOL!!!
          If it don't fit, don't force it....get a bigger hammer!!


          • #6
            While everything that has been said so far is right on, you may still be feeling a bit aprehensive about drawing. After all, you've had no encouragement since - whenever - probably very early childhood.
            First, I want to repeat what they've said - You really do have the ability to draw. That ability is just buried deep beneath a lot of criticism. Keep reaching and you'll find it. Betty Edwards is really excellent for that.
            However, while you're working on it, remember 2 of my favorite crutches - tracing paper and a copy machine or scanner that can change sizes. Using a light box would be easiest, but use whatever means you must to trace something similar to what you want to draw. Then make some changes. Move an ear, or a leg. Put a background item in a different place - or eliminate it. When you've got your tracing perfectly messy, trace it - of course just tracing the parts you're happy with. Use your scanner or whatever to make other pics the right size to trace just the parts you like. So you could trace, say, a dancer, then change her arm position, then trace her a different partner - then change their outfits - then put them dancing on a lily pad!
            Or... you get the idea, I'm sure.
            All that tracing and retracing will also get your small muscles used to drawing - and you can produce some really nifty drawings.
            I know this is pretty low-tech for a computer whiz, but I think you will find it rewarding.
            Again, you can do it - at some level. We're our worst critics. Keep at it.


            • #7
              I'm giving it a try

              I've never been one to draw, probably down to when I was at school and the teachers suggesting I don't go down the art route.

              Anyway, I've been reading this thread and Toni's with great interest. I followed Carl's link and gave the exercise a try and was quite surprised with the outcome.

              I've checked on Amazon and the book is in stock and only £9.89.

              I'm going to give Sandy's ideas a try too, I remember tracing when I was younger so I'll try that and adapt as I go along.

              Once again, a great forum. Thank you.
              So many hobbies, so little time


              • #8
                Wow! So many good ideas and so much encouragement . I've ordered Betty Edwards' book and anticipate holding my first exhibition before Christmas.

                I'm not saying which Christmas.

                There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
                (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)


                • #9
                  My father was among other things a very accomplished artist.
                  He painted murals and portraits, did sketches, water colours acrylics, oils and pastels.

                  On of his favorite paintings was that of a simple puddle.
                  The rest of the picture was unfinished but the puddle had depth transparency and even the heavier edges of a meniscus.

                  I have seen him draw a circle freehand better than most can with a compass.
                  Art was always a big part of our family just as it is with Toni's.
                  One of my prized possessions is an autographed copy of Betty Edwards book with an inscription to my father and continued success.

                  I really hope that anyone who reads her book is inspired to go further than they ever thought they could.
                  One thing you really must do is keep a portfolio of your work no matter how poor you think the piece is. That way you can really see how much you improve with each drawing just like we all do from our scrolling.

                  Keep your pencils and blades sharp Carl
                  CAЯL HIRD-RUTTEЯ
                  "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
                  Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21


                  • #10

                    Would you be kind enough to repost that link to the drawing course: I don't remember the thread you posted it in originally.

                    My PC crashed & I lost all my favourites (amongst other things)
                    Right: no backup


                    DW788. -Have fun in the shop or it isn't a hobby anymore.

                    NOTE: No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.


                    • #11
             should get you there if it's the first one Carl posted.
                      If it don't fit, don't force it....get a bigger hammer!!


                      • #12
                        I bought three books from the same publisher as scrollsaw workshop...designing dragons, fairies, and flowers. They are very helpful, and the instructions are quite basic and simple. The fairy book shows you how to draw people with ovals and then you cut out each oval and re-pin them together, like a doll. Now you can re-position the ovals to give your person the characteristics that you want...hard to explain, but very simple. I'd recomend the fairy book first. Then the dragon and or flower book.
                        Jeff Powell


                        • #13
                          Sandy talked of tracing paper as a crutch. I do not consider this a crutch it is a tool, just as a ruler is a tool.
                          Leonardo Da Vinci used a device called Camera Obscura. A room like a giant pinhole camera that allows you to trace an object outside the room. I am certain that no one would ever accuse him of using a crutch.
                          Even tracing is an skill all on its own just like following the line of a scroll saw pattern. If you make a correction too abruptly then it is noticeable. If the correction is more gradual and subtle then the result is more realistic and forgiving.

                          When I first started drawing pen and ink, I would trace the outline loosely with a mechanical pencil. Then as I refined the shapes and shading I would erase the lines which I used for reference.
                          I did my first Chaplin picture like this. It was a composite from books in the library.
                          Once I had defined the outline I put the drawing on the fridge. As I walked by I would touch up the shading here and there till I was happy with the results.

                          The only way to draw is to practice and continue to practice. Each drawing, good or bad will be a lesson. Eventually you will have trained your eyeto the point where you can freehand what you want to draw. Even then you need to practice, because if you don't use it you lose it.

                          I have not tried serious woodburning yet but I perceive it to be much like drawing. I think the pen and ink style would really lend itself to this.
                          Last edited by BobD (Archive); 06-06-2007, 10:45 AM.
                          CAЯL HIRD-RUTTEЯ
                          "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
                          Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21


                          • #14
                            I bought Betty Edwards book for my daughter ~I think I will have her find it and let me read it!




                            • #15
                              The Betty Edwards book has arrived . I'll have to do a bit of shopping tomorrow to get the bits and bobs that she recommends you use in conjunction with her lessons (clear plastic, stiff card etc). In the meantime I've read as far as the first set of exercises which is designed to give the student a benchmark for future reference.

                              One exercise requires you to draw a portrait of someone from memory. The strangest thing is that I'm finding it very hard to conjure up a likeness of anyone in my own imagination, even people who I've been intimately close to! I can recall their images in photographs that have been taken, but when I try to imagine the living, breathing person, I can't! How strange is that?! Am I alone in this? It feels pretty unsettling .

                              There is no opinion, however absurd, which men will not readily embrace as soon as they can be brought to the conviction that it is readily adopted.
                              (Schopenhauer, Die Kunst Recht zu Behalten)


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