Perceptions in drawing |

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Perceptions in drawing

Seeing is key, says Steve Strode, as he takes you through ideas and inspiration for practising your drawing skills


Practise drawing techniques

Try different measuring methods

How to create form in your work

Representational artists, such as Walter Sickert, believed that drawing should be mastered before moving on to paint, and once said: ‘Any fool can paint, but drawing is the thing, drawing is the test’.

Betty Edwards, in her excellent book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, believes this, too. She thinks developing our perceptual skills is what makes for better drawing. The perception of edges, spaces, relationships, and light and shadow will vastly improve the way we see, and this in turn will improve our drawing.

In theory, I expect these perceptual skills could be learned through painting, but the addition of colour handling and techniques requires attention that could distract us from the basics, which are easily transcribed with no more than pencil and paper. I also suspect we may be seduced by the colour or appearance of a painting, and neglect the scaffold upon which it’s built.

I believe any person with reasonable eyesight and hand eye co-ordination has the ability to draw, but drawing well requires that we begin seeing things anew. The best books on drawing I’ve encountered over the past 20 years all agree that drawing is essentially the ability to see, and not just look. The following exercises in contour drawing will retrain your eye in observation.

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About Leisure Painter

Welcome to the July issue of Leisure Painter, aimed at beginners and amateur painters. Subjects covered this month include landscapes, seascapes, urban scenes, portraits, wild and domesticated animals and birds, flowers and natural still lifes. We introduce a short series on painting buildings in pastel and there are also two new painting projects to try: learn how to simplify a busy harbour scene and paint a portrait of a roe deer. From techniques and colours for painting rain, puddles and reflections in acrylic and painting natural textures in watercolour to drawing exercises and step-by-step demonstrations for you to try, we aim to include something for everyone in each issue.