I continue to find entirely too many emerging artists who have never experienced the joy of drawing or how it can go a long way towards giving them confidence in
their painting. When I mention drawing to these artists, the most common retort is "I don't want to draw, I just want to paint." We don't know what we don't know.
Master artists know how drawing plays a major role in feeding their artist within. A lot of behind the scenes drawing activities shape the outcome
of every painting that has endured the ages. A surprising amount of drawing done by master artists is a major part of their process, but doesn't necessarily lead to a specific painting.
One of my favorite drawings of all time is a Michelangelo study called Madonna and Child.
Michelangelo Madonna and Child black pencil, white pencil white lead and ink circa 1525
There is no evidence directly connecting this drawing to any of his major works, but that's exactly why I'm including it here and why I love it. It belongs to
the "behind the scenes" catagory of every major artist--right there with the drawings Andrew Wyeth dropped onto the floor because they had done their work to feed his inner artist. (Thankfully, wife Betsy gathered and saved them).
Back to this Madonna and Child drawing, I've isolated three sections for you to see how, with his drawing tool, Michelangelo was searching. Closely examine each of
those isolated areas for how the line gets relocated --as if to say, "nope, not here...nor here..yep, here."
I've circled a couple of spots where the search continues, but don't stop there. Now that your attention is switched from what the drawing is to what it
is doing, examine the entire piece and you find repeatedly, lines searching for a place to land.
In your sketchbook or on scraps of paper, do some studies of the areas I've circled above. Try to allow your lines to flow and stray, just like Michelangelo has
done. Try to feel what he was searching for. Push where the lines are darker, pull back where they are lighter. Move your pencil faster where you see lines moving faster and slower where they slow down.
Then, put a coffee mug or bowl in front of you and use these same kinds of lines to explore its shape. This might take a bit of practice and a bit of loosening up, but the payoff is worth it--especially if you make this kind of exercise a daily practice.
We're studying complementary colors in our next live stream workshop on March 4. Join us to discover the hidden secrets of using complements!
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