8 Drawing Exercises That Every Artist Should Practice
Wire Drawing Exercise
Example from save-janos.net – this example has been placed on a painted acrylic background
With this exercise you are not going to be drawing at all. All you need is some wire and a pair of pliers with cutters. My favorite wire for this exercise is tie wire and you can get it almost any hardware store. The idea is to explore shapes and lines that you create by bending the wire. This exercise will force you to focus more on the line and less on the “drawing.” The nature of the wire also makes it more difficult to create tight corners. Don’t fight this and allow the properties of the wire to influence your piece.
Give your non-dominant hand a chance to shine. Control is not always a good thing and, unless you are ambidextrous, this exercise will require you to give up much of your learned control. By drawing with your non-dominant hand you are giving yourself the opportunity to be more free with your line. During this exercise you should notice your line becoming more loose and fluid.
you should be doing most of these drawing exercises vertically if you have an easel or drawing horse. Drawing vertically is a great way to loosen up your line. Focus on drawing with your entire arm and not just your hand. Drawing this way will also allow you to get your line recorded faster. Remember, focus on looking at what you are drawing as much as the drawing itself and do not stop moving your hand when you look up.
Continuous Contour Line Drawing
Examples from Draw and Paint Online
A Continuous Contour Line Drawing is an exercise to help us focus on the line. The idea here is to create a drawing where you never lift your drawing utensil from the paper. I like to use a pen on this one to help me resist the urge of erasing mistakes. If you have never done this exercise you may find your drawings odd and “imperfect” but that is what makes them beautiful. Also focus on looking at what you are drawing as much as the drawing itself and do not stop moving your hand when you look up.
Continuous Blind Contour Line Drawing
Example from Anne Leuck Feldhaus
If you enjoy the contour line exercise, then you should certainly try this one. In this exercise, look only at the subject that you are drawing and not at the paper. Yes, you read that correctly. Again, I use a pen in this exercise and try to coordinate your hand and eyes to work together, recording the lines as your eyes follow them. The idea here is to train your hand and eyes to work in unison. As you do more blind contour line drawings you will get better and begin seeing some wonderful, fluid lines.
Example from about.com – the one on the right is an example of tighter more expressive execution
In this exercise you want to get as much information down on the paper in short amount of time. You will be doing a series of drawings here, so make sure you have plenty of paper and a timer on hand. The first drawings you only have 20 seconds to complete. Yes 20 seconds! Repeat the 20 second drawings about 10 times and increase the timer to 40 seconds. You want to be bold with these drawings and forget about the “mistakes” that you are making. Make sure you keep drawing like you were when you only had 20 seconds. Increase the time again to 2 minutes after you have completed about 10 drawings at 40 seconds. You should begin to notice improvement in your line quality as become more confident with your drawing. Also focus on looking at what you are drawing as much as the drawing itself and do not stop moving your hand when you look up.
Draw the Negative Space
Example from NBCC.ca
In this exercise you will be drawing the space around the object, negative space, rather than the object itself. First try using a solid marking as shown above to create a very flat looking finished product. I would also suggest doing some where you draw the negative space more realistically. And, don’t forget to focus on looking at what you are drawing as much as the drawing itself .
Value Drawing Exercise
Example from Julie’s Journal
Usually when drawing we begin sketching the outline of the object we are drawing. In this exercise, do not drawing a single line. Instead, simply shade using your favorite drawing utensil and build the drawing up this way. I suggest using charcoal or something large that will allow you to put your shading down quickly. You can always erase or add white Conte if your shading gets too dark. You should still be looking at what you are drawing as much as the drawing itself and do not stop moving your hand when you look up.
I know that many of you know all of these as they are very common exercises. If they are new to you, hopefully these help and good luck to you with your drawings! If you have a favorite that I didn’t include, please add it in the comments.