exploring drawing part one

{This is the first of a two part series looking at ways to approach drawing.}

What’s your favourite way to draw? Do you love drawing or do you find yourself avoiding it? Do you favour a particular drawing style?

I want to talk about drawing today because I both love drawing and avoid it, and because I’m always interested in finding ways to make art that are not just fun and satisfying, but that also express our uniqueness.

You may know that my favourite way to draw is blind contour drawing.

I recently received an email from a reader {thank you Graham!} who is keen to begin illustrating his own children’s books, and it got me thinking about different approaches to drawing and how we can really root into our own unique way of doing it.

So often we think we have to be some kind of master draughtsman to be able – or even ‘allowed’ – to put pencil to paper.

I have often heard people say, ‘oh I can’t even draw a stick figure’, or ‘I can’t do art because I can’t draw’.

To which I say {with great love and respect}; Nonsense! 😉

Drawing is fun, playful, infinitely expressive, and as far as I’m concerned nothing to to do with stick figures, unless you want it to be.

Here is a brief list of approaches to drawing ~ what are you inspired to try?

blind contour drawing

Easy, fun, meditative, creates unexpected results and can be a nice lead into abstraction.

Buddha :: mixed media on paper :: 19x25cm :: created using my favourite method - blind contour drawing

Buddha :: mixed media on paper :: 19x25cm :: created using my favourite method – blind contour drawing

I also think it’s a great place to start if you’re new to drawing or not feeling too confident about it, because the method of not looking at what your hand is doing means you actively can’t control the outcome.

So no room for pesky perfectionism.

Look at the work of Egon Schiele, who often used this technique. His line work is instantly recognisable; expressive, ‘wobbly’ and distinctive.

Also evidence, should it be required, that this type of drawing can be art in and of itself, or as part of a greater painting, and not just a loosening up exercise.

intuitive drawing

charcoal mood

intuitive charcoal drawing based on a {somewhat turbulent} mood

A huge area that covers lots of lovely things like:

  • drawing mandalas {Andrea wrote a great little tutorial on that here}
  • using drawing as a means of uncovering your personal symbolism
  • expressing feelings that do not readily lend themselves to words

….to name just three.

Doodling comes under this heading too; for quirky character drawing inspired by doodles I recommend Carla Sonheim.

Also take a look at Cy Twombly for fabulously expressive scribbly drawing. This approach can be very cathartic.

life drawing

charcoal life drawing

a charcoal life drawing from art college days

Another great love of mine, although I haven’t done it for a while in a live setting.

There are several websites that offer images of models in life drawing class poses, like this.

I don’t think there’s a substitute for having a living model in front of you, but if you can’t get to a class these can be useful and great practice.


sketchbook drawings by Tara Leaver

Very occasionally I like to make very detailed drawings like this, but it’s not my most natural or favoured approach.

If you’re looking for lessons in how to make realistic art here, I’m afraid you’re on the wrong website. 😊

While I am hugely admiring of those who can and love to create realistic drawings, and from time to time will copy something as a way to explore a technique or idea, it’s neither where my gifts nor my interests lie.

One thing I will say is that it is always worth learning basic drawing techniques, even if you will only be breaking all the rules later.

A good foundation is always useful. There are thousands of tutorials on YouTube.

Other types of drawing

There are so many kinds of drawing out there, I can pretty much guarantee that there is a way that’s going to interest you, if you haven’t already found it.

Zentangle, animé, cartoon and caricature, graffiti style, lettering, whimsical, simple and minimal, detailed and intricate, children’s book illustration, to name a very few.

Some artists with unique and recognisable drawing styles

Brian Andreas

David Shrigley

Quentin Blake

Egon Schiele

Jennifer Mercede

Next week I’ll talk more about how we can really begin to dig in and find out what our unique drawing style is.

In the meantime, tell me about your drawing! Do you love it? What’s your style? What would you like to try? Who are your favourite artists who draw?