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How to Draw in 5 Steps

Every drawing starts out well, and then goes through a bad phase. I call this The Valley of the Shadow of Death. The Valley stage is when we notice our drawing does not look right, and we try to fix it, but it only gets worse and worse.

Pulling the drawing out of the Valley, and learning how to do this over and over, is the key to drawing well.

Whenever we get frustrated or discouraged, I have found it helpful to have a few mantras and a list of STEPS to follow to re-focus the mind and get the drawing back on track.

These steps help me, and I have found they help my students as well:
  1. Breathe. You can’t draw if your brain thinks you are dying.
  2. Look. Drawings fail when we forget to look at the subject.
  3. Mark. Make ONE mark. Stop your hand. Put your pencil down if you need to.
  4. Check. Look at the subject again, look at your mark again, and correct it.
  5. Repeat. Do this 10 times. Then do it 10 more times. 
If you lose count, start again and try to do it 10 times. And then 10 more times. In fact, this is really the way to draw ALL the time.

P.S. It works for painting, too!

WORKSHOP: Drawing the Figure in Chalk and Charcoal on Toned Paper: January 2013, San Francisco

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Reader Comments (2)

Hi. I just love the 5 steps, and laugh a lot when reading the first. Thanks.

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGuillermo Ruizlimón

This is great. I laughed out loud when I read Step No. 1. I think I'll write the steps down with a thick marker and tape them to the wall of my studio, to remind me to slow down and work deliberately.

Juliette Aristides wrote a blog post on Artist Daily called The Art of Slow Time. I take classes at a school in Seattle where she runs an atelier.

January 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda Teicher
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