25 Days to Better Drawings – Day Eleven – Drawing with Forms

25 Days to Better Drawings: Drawing with Forms

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25 Days to Better Drawings – Day Eleven – Drawing with Forms — 14 Comments

  1. Is this like creating a grid of say, a square and a triangle, to slot the pieces in? (I can’t “see” the cube, but I can see the square).

  2. Golly, that’s great. I wish you would demo a skull defining the shapes … personally I think it might be an easier approach on a skull than the three forms imagined?

  3. Hi Matt,

    I’m loving this course and am struggling with something so I’m thought I’d ask you to see if you have any suggestions. I feel I need to practice – not necessarily move onto the next lesson, but take all these new skills and draw everything over & over & over.

    But – the same old problem happens when I try to take these new skills and draw something on my own – I can’t. I just plumb can’t. I seem to get to the same point and stop. Somehow I’m not yet able to take what you’re teaching and apply it on my own.

    So I just re-watch you drawing these same few items and draw them over & over. Which is great, but I feel that at some point, I should be able to transfer these skills to drawing something on my own. Maybe that’s an unrealistic expectation?

    I am mystified as how when I follow along with you drawing the jack, a jack actually appears on my page!!!! a 3-d jack!!! I swear it’s a miracle. I watch you, I hear you, I copy you, and yet – I swear it’s magic. I want to try that on my own!! And when I try – fail. over & over & over. I just can’t seem to:

    1. find anything to draw (Houston, we have a problem)
    2. see what I need to do to make this (whatever I’m drawing) look more like what I’m trying to draw – meaning If I try to draw a lamp it’s always going to be drawn the same crappy way – I can’t see what I can’t see – what tweaks do I need to make in order for this thing to look more like what I’m drawing
    3. reach an ah-ha

    I want to be able to turn you off and draw something in my environment, yet every time I do that I get so stuck I just stop trying and go onto a different activity thinking that tomorrow for sure things will be different – and they’re not.

    It’s like I just need to check what I’m doing against what you’re doing and make corrections as I go otherwise I just end up with some really “bad” drawing – the same kinds of drawings I did before I started with VI. There are no ah-ha moments when I draw without watching you, yet. I’m expecting them – maybe that’s an unrealistic expectation. I’m defining a “bad” drawing as a drawing drawn the same way I’ve always done it – bad = no development, no insights, no ah-ha.

    I’ve wanted to type this message every day for 2 weeks, and keep telling myself Kathy, just draw & you’ll get better. But I’m not drawing and I’m not getting better so I’m asking – do you have any suggestions for how I can get over this hump?

    Should I keep moving on in the lessons when I’m unable to replicate a jack-like item on my own?

    I suspect I’m way too up in my head, but here I am! 🙂 Can you help get me out?

    Do I just draw crappy drawings until one day I’ll “get” it? Is that how one learns how to draw?

    Thanks so much,

    • Hi Kathy,

      Thanks for your honest question/comment. This is not unusual and you’re not alone. I wish I could tell you how many “crappy” drawings I’ve made – they’re too many to count. Unfortunately there isn’t a light switch that we can flick that will make us great at drawing. It does take time.

      It is the concepts that are most important to learn. Once you have them in your head, then they guide the decisions that you make. Unfortunately, they don’t always stick the first time so repetition helps.

      Too many beginning artists believe that there is a simple step by step approach to drawing things. There isn’t. An artist or teacher can show you the steps they take and you see them and replicate them with success. But you must get all of those concepts in your head before you can do the same thing. So, the more that you practice with your own subjects, while remembering and applying the concepts, the more that they’ll stick. But this takes time for most people. Every bad drawing that you make is another step towards a great one. The steps are slow, but you’ll get there.

      This course presents these concepts in baby steps, each day presenting a new one – but all of the concepts together lead to great drawings – not on their own. You will eventually learn to put all of the concepts together and soon it will become almost “mindless”. But you have to give it time and practice, practice, practice.

      And when you practice, remember that you’re not practicing drawing a specific subject, but instead practicing a specific concept. The subject is really irrelevant. For example, this lesson is about piecing forms together (like piecing shapes together) to create more complex forms. I could have chosen any subject, but the concept would still be the same.

      As for the other issues that you’re having…

      1. Draw anything. It doesn’t matter what you draw, just draw something – from observation. You need to find objects that you can look at of course. They can be anything. Look on a desk, a stapler, a pen, a sketchbook, a phone, whatever. Look outside your window – a tree, a car, bushes, people, etc. Anything can be a subject. Remember, you are practicing concepts – not actually drawing the subjects. (I have drawn 1000s of small drawings in sketchbooks over the years.)

      It’s a little like how we learn math – the teacher tells us (or told us years ago) how multiplication works. But we don’t know how to really do it until we do all of those problems they assign for homework. One problem isn’t usually enough, so they gives us 50, 100, or more. The repetition makes us understand and soon, multiplication becomes “mindless”.

      Here’s another analogy – let’s take basketball for example. Someone may show you how to dribble a ball. But it’s not until you actually practice dribbling the ball that you’re able to do it. Dribbling is just one small part of a game of basketball. It is an important concept, but you can’t expect to play in the game if all you can do is dribble.

      2. When we look at the objects around us, we may understand what they are. Our left brains take care of that. But what we actually see are abstract things. These abstract things are the elements of art – line, shape, form, value, texture, color, and space. And these are the things we should look for and then draw. So when you look at a lamp, forget that it’s a lamp – your left brain will get in the way. Instead look for the lines, the values, the textures, the shapes, etc. Draw these things and piece them together. This is the essence of drawing. When you train yourself to do this, then you will be able to draw anything that you like. That’s when you’ll have a major “a ha” moment. Everything will seem possible.

      3. “A ha moments” will come but they never hit me directly in the face. It was more gradual for me. As I learned and developed, I didn’t always notice it. Sometimes, it’s not until you look back at drawings that you created before that you see how far you’ve come.

      Perhaps you’ve heard me compare drawing and painting to a journey. This is no accident. It is a journey – one that continues on and on. My journey certainly isn’t complete.

      Imagine that on this journey, you’re walking on a path. Sometimes, you take small steps while sometimes the steps are more like leaps. Occasionally the path is downhill and walking is easy. Sometimes it’s uphill and it’s slow and tiring. Sometimes, you feel like you’re not moving at all or even moving backwards. This is all part of the journey. You must keep moving forward if the destination is important to you. The journey itself is rewarding – because it’s not easy – it is a challenge – a wonderful challenge. The best accomplishments in life only come after overcoming adversity and putting in the work that others avoid or make excuses to avoid.

      Continue on and try to absorb the concepts. Really try to discern the concept from the subject. Practice the concept with different objects until you fully understand it – not necessarily after you’ve created a perfect drawing. The concept is the most important thing, remember. Eventually, the quality in your drawings follows, but only after the concepts are understood.

      Here’s a little progression from a member, just posted the other day on the forum. It’s great because it shows the same subject as she practiced and studied. Notice how her understanding of the concepts increased as she progressed, even introducing color…https://community.thevirtualinstructor.com/t/portrait-progression/151

  4. Hello Matt,

    I hope you can feel this big virtual hug I’m giving you. Thank you. I feel like the universe has given me this (weird) deep desire to learn to draw, and then introduced me to the exact teacher (you!) to teach me.

    What you’ve written is oh so juicy and helpful, thank you. I will re-read it many times.

    Thank you for reminding me I’m on a journey.

    Thank you for reminding me that it is exactly this challenge, this journey from “I can’t do this” to “oh holy cow I just did that” that I love. I mean really love. I wonder if I could find a way to enjoy walking the path…

    I’m so willing to do the work, thank you for helping me out of my head and for pointing me in a helpful direction. I’m picking up my pencil (my Derwent H – hey, look at that! I’ve learned which pencil & brand to start with & why!), and I know exactly what I will practice – I’m going to ” practice the concepts with different subjects until you fully understand it”.

    I’m off for some happy practicing. Thank you so so so so much.

  5. I appreciate the discussion between Kathy and Matt. We are on a journey! I can see the cube and understand the concept that you are providing Matt.. but my brain does let me create a cube! I have practiced, practiced.. and will continue to do so. Matt, I stumbled upon you also and so grateful I did. I enjoy your easy teaching style.. happy I can go back and listen to your courses over again.. and have the references to review.

  6. Your hatching lines appear so fine. Mine look much bulkier. Any tips how how to get a narrower stroke? Also, what are you using to sharpen your pencil?

  7. Holy cow, I felt this was a huge jump in difficulty! Very intimidated when I started and really didn’t think I’d be able to do anything even remotely like it. That said, I did pull of a more “ape’ish” looking skull but at least you can hopefully tell it’s a skull. I keep pressing on though. Thank you for making me realize drawing is a skill I can obtain. I’ve been intimidated by my older siblings who all had the art instruction before me (I was fifth and for some reason didn’t get those art lessons). I have a long way to go but one day at a time.

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