Drawing: Confidence building, better habits and going to class

This post is part of a series connected to What I got out of Drawing 1 and why I dropped out, enjoy!

Drawing gave me a reason to get out more, to own my spot as an artist on the go by getting out into nature and drawing, I also enjoyed a hot Summer.

It gave me a sense of personal freedom when drawing in cafes and in town. I learnt not to be distracted by the glances of other people and to just draw! Each to there own after all.

I had better discipline to learn and do more, I created a sketchbook just for my own learnings and set aside time to learn and develop my skills with books, youtube and blogs.

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I went to life drawing class for the first time- actually I went to two and got two very different experiences from them.

The first was one day a week for 4 weeks, this got me into a good practice of going to somewhere each week for a purpose, I showed up each time regardless of how I felt. This class was tutored, helpful for pointers of what I was/wasn’t doing right but quite strict and rigid. I felt out of place amongst many drawers who’s work were incredible.

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The second run by Harriet, who runs Harri-art courses and classes in Maidenhead and events like the one I went to a few times a year at South Hill Park. This was a one day drawing extravaganza – so much fun!

Instead of just one male model to draw there was a range of females and males, nude and clothed, also a bunch of supplies to play with too! This kind of workshop is a great experience whatever art level your at. I think I will go to another in the future as I won’t have in the back of my mind that what I’m doing is for a course, it’ll be for me!

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Drawing: Exploring different mediums, terms and new ways to get inspiration

This is part of a series of posts connected to What I got out of Drawing 1 and why I dropped out, enjoy!

I tried different mediums, my favourites were – dip pens and markers, mixed media and drawing on coloured paper.

I explored different terms and themes, through I wasn’t the best at producing them, I’m grateful to have learnt drawing basics and fundamentals.

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A list may be of help to people want somewhere to start in learning to draw:

  • Composition
  • Perspective
  • Golden mean
  • Shadow and light
  • Positive and negative space
  • Foreshortening
  • Fine detail
  • Line and wash
  • Monochrome
  • Textures

I got inspiration from things outside myself, in my usual art practices I tended to go ‘inside’ of myself in my own bubble to create.

While drawing I could focus on a subject, research about it and then draw. I did this with a picture of a Hummingbird and learnt interesting facts and specifics about their anatomy.

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I also drew outside literally, when my course required me to take a sketch book walk, draw nature and the town.

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I got further inspiration from going to galleries, something I’ve done for a while but this time I did it and will continue to do it at a deeper level. Making notes in sketch book while in the gallery, drawing a representation of art on the walls and taking my time around the place, makes it more of an experience. During my course I visited the Saatchi and Royal Academy in London for the first time.

Drawing allowed me to draw things I would never do, such as items of clothing, shoes, my bathroom.

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I learnt to draw quickly and get as much down as I could when drawing my cats, moving people and models as they are unpredictable and time limited.

I drew clouds for the first time with pastels and trees close up as well as learning all about facial features positioning and body parts.

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Drawing: The free and controlled approach

Through drawing I came across the free and controlled approach, these two modes can be referred to as intuitive and analytical too.

Intuitive mode (free) allows for quick, sketchy, impulsive, loose, connected lines.

Analytical (controlled) is precise, careful and deliberate.

I am good at free intuitive movements and less on controlled almost perfect drawing.

For anyone putting these two styles together doesn’t work at first. You can become frozen from constant analysis and block a loose attitude for intuition.

The trick is to become disciplined at keeping them apart and to use them alternatively at appropriate times.

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In his great book Keys to Drawing, Bert Dodson mentions an artist Eugene Delacroix and shows his study of lions. This is the first time I had come across the term ‘artist handwriting’.

To try Delacroix’s style drawing can be broken down to do the first few lines vague and loose, then give direction for the more accurate lines to follow.

I find this way balances my brain and body – to co ordinate movement in a way that produces a drawing where I can enjoy the process more and allows me to be loose and light, not tensed up and frustrated with outcome.

What I got out of drawing 1 and why I dropped out

At the start of October 2014, I thought I had everything worked out. I was leaving a job to go into a new field and had with the finance help of my family a chance to a Degree in something I loved Art, to go on to do an MA and be an Art Therapist – my dream job.

I had a set plan, I was overjoyed that my life had some direction to it, it was ambitious and exciting.

At the start I enjoyed it, I was mark making, drawing things around me and using my sketchbook to record my learnings.

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It stayed this way for some time, then things got harder. It hit me that degree level probably wasn’t the best way for a non drawing skilled person to start. Instead of an exercise taking 15 minutes to complete it would take more like 40 minutes to an hour.

I felt the hardest hit (which turned out to be a blessing) when my tutor suggested I do the course for personal development only. I hit the roof, and cried. I felt devastated. The Mr assisted in picking me up and with his help I re worked three assignments in two weeks, read the best drawing books out there and could actually see an noticeable difference in my drawing skills!

However, on completing my third assignment a townscape, and realising I was still unhappy with it, I decided my option was to re work it and go through hours of drawing hell again (I wanted to scream, shout and cry at the very idea) I thought about doing drawing for personal development.

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As I thought about drawing for personal development, learning all I can and completing the course with no follow up or recognition at the end, I felt a mix of lightness, sureness and an intuitive guided yes.

I announced it to the Mr (who was my rock at every drawing hurdle and wanted me to learn and love what I do rather than it be a miserable experience) he was very supportive. Other people close to me were not so supportive and I understood that too. I had after all just said goodbye to a big dream of mine that I had been talking about for years! Eventually, everyone came round to the idea and as it was all paid for and up to me to complete it, the decision was entirely mine.

A big tip for creative people considering a course or degree:

Go small first! Try out a short course online, I studied with the OCA or go to an in person class first. Learn how you work, develop your skills and interest and go from there. I can clearly see that rushing from depression to a degree was not a smart move. Slow down, there is enough time. Then go from there to something bigger.

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Where do I go from here:

Well, it seems I am back to where I began, being a painter. I’ve come full circle! Though I have more confidence in my attitude and ability to create. I have grown immensely having learning to draw, to drive and develop my yoga practice all at the same time! I now have total permission to make the art I love and make my own tools and products.

Some drawing related posts, things I learnt along the way:

Learning and applying the free and controlled approach to drawing.

Getting inspiration from outside of myself, drawing in different locations.

How drawing was a lesson in confidence, skill, practice and better habits.

3 Fresh ways at looking & creating landscape art


Within the drawing course I have just completed was a section where I drew landscapes and mostly didn’t enjoy doing them. This being as the criteria asked for ‘a realistic portrayal of the view’, basically asking me to mirror what I see in front of me and put it onto page, or else. Drawing and painting in that way is not for me.

The invitation of going to see a local landscape exhibition came up and though it brought up a little resistance to Landscape Art, I stayed open and went along.

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While I was there this point really stuck with me:

The early years of century artists used landscapes as a vehicle to express their own interests and experiences while still suggesting the geography of the place.

This opened up fresh ways of looking at and/or creating landscape art in these ways:

  1. Landscapes can be produced in abstract form by breaking what you see into shapes, lines and colours. My favourite artist who demonstrates this is Paul Klee who uses blocks of colour to show nature in a simple form. At A sense of place exhibition, the art with the most energy for me were art works with blocks of paint, shapes and lines giving me a sense of what was being painted without a need for every detail of the view to be shown. An example of this are the works of Lilan Holt and Alistar Grant.
  2. Landscapes can contain spiritual and imaginative elements such as cultural icons and other worldly realities. This was shown in the painting Remembered Land by Victoria Crowe at the exhibition as images of a foot, a head and other objects didn’t bring about ‘randomness’ instead it drew you into the painting, naturally you wondered about it more. Playful pieces with a imaginative sense to them, make scenes interesting, full of life and fun.
  3. Landscapes can be produced as a form of expressing how you feel about a place you love or find yourself in. This is an open invitation to let your own expression shine! Whether it be with: pens, pencils, paint, collage or anything else. A mixed media piece at the exhibition I found inspiring was The Garden of Earthly delights by Dominic Madden. Up close you could see a background of newspaper print with peoples faces and text with an overlay of tissue paper in long shapes, making out images for trees. Then as you took a few steps back, the paper print was no longer visible in it’s original form but instead as a colourful forest!
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Abstract expressive work by David Bomberg and Michael Ayrton.