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Drawing a Subject: The Painter's Approach

Drawing a subject, whether a person, animal, object or landscape, is not difficult, but it has a method to follow.

First, you locate the big masses of your subject first by lightly indicating the main lines.

These light lines will act as a guide in sketching in the objects that make up your drawing.

The amount of detail that is to be delineated is determined by what you are striving for.

If the drawing is made directly on canvas for a painting to be made on the spot, only the main construction lines are needed.

Details can then be added by painting and a freer impression achieved. If a great many details are drawn before painting is begun, a tightness often results.

On the other hand, if you are making a drawing as a means of gathering data for a painting to be done later in the studio, put in as much detail as possible.

It can be simplified as you sketch it on the canvas and the drawing can be referred to as you paint.

Again, you may do a subject just for the sake of pure drawing. You may wish to express a tonal quality and go to great lengths in studying the minute effects of light and shade.

Or you may prefer a more simple rendering, a brief statement of the subject.

Experiment constantly. Try various approaches. If you are unsure of your drawing, take time out to correct mistakes as you go along.

Don't be concerned about a clean, neat, finished effect-draw to acquire knowledge, not pictures.

On the other hand, if you become too slipshod in your drawing you may need to discipline yourself.

Try using a hard, sharply pointed pencil tor a while. Your efforts may seem too tight at first, particularly in contrast to what you have been doing, but the final results should eliminate slovenly handling.

A hard pencil is also a good remedy for any supeficial slickness you may have acquired.

Its hard, unyielding line will not permit the dazzling surface performance that is so much more easily accomplished with a soft pencil or a stick of charcoal.

Use your pencil as a guide to proportion by holding it at arm's length, measuring depth and width from the end of the pencil to your thumb.

This method is known as "sight measurement." You will also find a pencil an excellent means of checking the angle of receding lines in freehand perspective.

It is surprising how many times a receding line appears at first glance to be going downward when actually it is going upward.

Rokeby Venus, by Velazquez


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