Ann McMillan Art
Fine Art in Color

Studio Blog

teaching resources and studio blog

Schematic for building a drawing...


Here is a schematic metaphor for of building a drawing or painting... each of the layers is a different lesson in my classes. Not all of the layers are needed for every drawing or painting, but I work with most of them in my practice, and find that student's drawing skills jump forward with each one. Here is a pdf of Assembling your Drawing Toolkit, since it appears much to small for legibility here.

The layers I find most useful are

  • Design-- how the image will be cropped and interact with the edge of the artwork.  Negative space is a huge part of this process.
  • Mapping--schetching lightly where the drawing will happen, and defining what the finsihed painting or drawing will look like.
  • Proportion:checking perspective and shape.  I usually include a special section on elliptical shapes, since they present a quandary.
  • Color: my favorite part.
  • Edges:starting to wrap up the painting, and meld it together.
  • Details: as few of these as possible.
  • Proofing:  I really do this thoughout the process--checking back that my proportions have not wandered off, or colors have gotten out of sync.

I am not unaware that drawing can seem a hurdle or task to be accomplished.  I have worked hard to create a simpler way to learn to draw.  In my drawing class, I find that the strongest tool I can hand people is an understanding of how to get proportions and perspective right, and how to compose and design a well thought out image.  These two skills are not difficult to come by, and greatly reward a few hours of study--seriously one to three hours for better proportion, and another session for better design works wonders on overall drawing ability.

For more information on flow, which is mentioned, please see the marvelous book, Finding Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.  This book in in my top five-favorite-books-that-changed-my-life list.