Monthly Archives: August 2013



Fill a sheet in your sketchbook with drawings of your hand in different positions. Then fill another sheet with drawings of your bare feet in different positions. Which is more difficult?




A really great exercise is to stretch your memory and draw without looking at the subject. I encourage my students to begin by staring at a subject for 5 minutes, memorizing as much as you can, then draw what you remember. The next exercise is to stare at a subject for 8 minutes and then draw from your memory. Lastly, stare at another subject for 10 minutes, and then draw from memory. Ask yourself: What did I have to do to remember what I saw — did I count things, or try to memorize shapes and angles, or did I visualize each line to store it in my mind? Try this memory exercise over and over again to improve your drawing .



Make a drawing in your sketchbook looking down from a high vantage point such as buildings seen from a high window, or a person standing on a floor directly below you.  Note how the shape is distorted.  Is there any linear perspective involved?  Where is your horizon line (eye level)?  Make another drawing at a low vantage point looking upward at an object (worm’s eye view).  How does the perspective change?  Where is your eye level now?  What does a tall building look like when you are looking directly skyward?  Do you see another vanishing point?


light direction

One of the qualities of light and shadow is the direction of the light source.  Direct lighting means one source of light is on the object; in this case, the shadows are dark and mostly hard-edged, and more values can be seen as opposed to diffused lighting.  On the same page of your sketchbook,  draw the same object from three different directions of light:  Top lighting, back lighting, and side lighting.  Which is more dramatic?  Which seems more three-dimensional? How do the shadows change?  Where are the highlights? Do you see reflected lighting?  How many values do you find in each drawing?


Doodles, Noodles

I found this idea in Bert Dodson’s book KEYS TO DRAWING WITH IMAGINATION:  a great resource.  “Doodling” is just drawing any shape you want in a random way without thinking about it (right-brain activity), and then decorating the doodle with some “Noodling” – thought out, repetitive, and controlled (left-brain activity).  The process is a lot like the Zentangles I’ve already mentioned.  Remember what Paul Klee said about “taking a line for a walk?”  These can be expanded and changed in a lot of different ways.  See his book for more ideas!



Make a format about 7 x 9″ in your sketchbook.  Start drawing a face you’ve seen in a newspaper or magazine article somewhere in the center of your sketchbook page.  Then start to add faces on top of faces — all sizes, shapes, genders, ages, ethnic groups, and poses superimposing and overlapping each other.  These should be purely imaginative — don’t worry if they don’t look accurate–that’s not the point.  Keep going until you’ve used up most of the paper. Fill in negative shapes with dark values.  Use either pen and ink, charcoal, or pencil.


3 Values

Cut out a photo from a newspaper or magazine and glue or tape it down on one side of your open sketchbook.  Make a format the same size on the facing page.  Draw the scene using only four values:  black, the white of the paper, a light grey and a medium grey.  You will have to pull together values that are close to each other to make on four values.  This exercise is valuable when painting in plein air — you learn how to see the major shapes and the major values (simplify, in other words.)



In your sketchbook, draw something beginning with every letter of the alphabet — you can draw one a day for 26 days, or do more than one a day.  Try to use some abstract concepts as well such as J = Jealousy.  Use color medium of your choice.