Creative Drawing and Journaling

Originally posted to SuiteU, part of Suite101. SuiteU is being removed from the site. I wanted to save the ecourses so this resource would not disappear.
Drawing 101
By Joan Martine Murphy


Most people would love to be able to draw what they see. Many people find enormous pleasure in the art of self-expression. Sadly the idea of learning to draw skillfully is quite daunting for a high percentage of people of the Western World. This is sometimes due to negative experiences that have come from early child hood.

Drawing is a form of communication, which can allow us to express ourselves when words will not suffice. This simple art form affords us the opportunity to express our emotions in a safe and pleasurable manner. Many people for example find that the simple exercise of drawing negative emotions which are then ceremoniously torn to shreds or burnt away – is a useful, safe way to deal with them. The exercise allows the artist to move on to a more relaxed and harmonious and peaceful happiness state.

Maps, symbols, colours, expressions and many other elements of design convey meaning and help us to construct a world of illusion. They help us re-present our reality. This can be useful, informative, recreational and healing.

I would like you to join us on a journey of self-expression. The course has been designed to give guidance, to explain processes and to establish routine. The learning curve of drawing is never finished! The visual journal is the motor of this train. The journey will be made manageable by the guidebook provided. There will be a clear path forward and your journal will become your guide. Journaling makes it easy to revisit, rework and discuss ideas with those around you, so that the learning experiences are richer and more meaningful as you develop the habit of creative endeavour. This course is highly visual. It is also highly cost effective. If a drawing pencil, paper and colour pencils are all you have? – that’s fine! If you are looking for further stimulation – there are plenty of extension exercises provided which encourage you to explore, push boundaries, create and revel in the fun that a variety of mediums can afford you. Please Read “How To Tackle This Course.”

What Students Are Saying…
This course was very valuable in helping me with my creative self. The author is a talented artist as well as a good teacher. I especially appreciate the ease of taking the courses online and working at my own pace. Also I have found the discussion boards especially helpful as I interact with the teacher and other students. I’m very happy to have found SuiteU.

This course starts with the basics so that even the beginner can get started, and by the end of the course, you’ve learned everything you can possibly imagine about drawing – enough to keep you practicing for months on end! T. Darlene Cheek

Lesson 1: Getting Started – An Introduction to Journaling.

Drawing is fun and exciting. The benefits of drawing to every other facet of learning and communication are enormous. By learning to draw what we see we also learn to make connections and we learn to be able to describe what we other wise would not be able to express. We learn to solve problems and to think about areas of knowledge and ideas that would not otherwise have occurred to us. The purpose of the course is to get you started. I will explain the concepts behind the methods artists use and encourage you to learn to draw in a systematic way. The aim is to keep it simple. Often students become discouraged with drawing because they think it is hard. If you think it is hard – it will be. However if you follow these easy instructions step by step you will be surprised how easily you will develop a love of drawing. You will happily keep your daily journal and eventually succeed in developing the ‘habit of creativity.’ Training Your Creative Self: Five Tips for Ultra-Creativity. By Angela Booth.

Journaling is best if it is done daily. It is also easiest to remember if it is the first thing you do when you wake up of a morning. Start the day by recording a drawing of your dreams. Or if you haven’t dreamt throughout the night, simply draw the first thing that occurs to you when you wake up.

How To Tackle This Course

Don’t try to read the course like a book.
Read the section on Journaling and just start journaling.

Don’t try to do all of the exercises all of the time.

Start doing exercises and just choose to fit in what you can manage.

As you begin to draw you will become curious …read the theory that goes with the drawing at that stage.
What you need to do next at each stage of the journey will become apparent. That is why it is a self-paced, self-directed course. NB* What it would be advisable for you to do, however, for the process to work is to devote at least 15 minutes a day to some aspect of the course, so that you stimulate your desire to learn.

Create your own comprehensive checklist of skills that you feel you still need to cover if you are to become proficient at drawing. Do this in your journal so that you won’t forget anything.

It would be good…. to cover all of the elements of design that are mentioned in this course at some stage, if you are to feel confident as an artist.

Don’t try to do them all at once.

But do check in with the list you are making…frequently… it will create your guidelines about what you need to cover eventually. It will become your motivation.

Print the course off and have it in a ring binder as you create your own ready reference.

That way you can add your own resources to it.

It will become thicker and thicker and thicker as you add to it over the years.

Lesson 1: Getting Started – An Introduction to Journaling.
14 Reasons Why Artists Keep Visual Journals.

Keeping a visual journal helps the artist develop a sense of self–discipline.
The chronological nature of the journal means that you are automatically recording your personal improvement.
A journal can become for you a ‘place’ where you can work out themes as they develop on the journey.
It is always good when you are presenting your work to be able to fit it into a theme.
Style is a process of evolution.
As you develop the ‘habit of creativity’ you will also develop an intuitive awareness.
Regard your journal as your personal safe place.
It is also a means of communication, a holding place for ideas to share with other artists and students who wish to learn.
Your journal is your note-takers paradise … a place where ideas can be kept in the written form as well as visually…
Keep technical notes – make sure you are learning about mixing colours and learning theory.
Set your self – ‘paced learning tasks’ of a specified nature. Have a particular learning outcome in mind.
Your journal is a safe place where you can experiment with abstractions. It will facilitate an unveiling of ways to express emotions and feelings.
Above all this safe haven of personal expression can become for you (if you let it) a source of relaxation.
As an artistic venture your journal will naturally evolve into your precious planning tool.

Lesson 1: Getting Started – An Introduction to Journaling.
Making or Buying Your Journal

A visual journal needs to be

big enough for you to be able to experiment with ease
small enough to take with you every where you go
made from fairly good quality paper in case you do *#!- that – *^ drawing and need to frame it
the paper may need to be able to ‘hold’ watercolour at some stages
have a hard bound cover so that it is durable and can give support behind the drawing
it should preferably have ring binding or an easy, flexible binding so that you can bend back the cover when sitting drawing
fairly attractive so that it becomes the book you treasure

Is this a big ask? Not really.

Is it going to be expensive? No!

This drawing adventure will turn out to be the most inexpensive course you have ever completed. Unless of course you choose otherwise. You may find that as your pleasure in drawing increases you will want to experiment with new materials and papers. This is great! However – I suggest you take it one step at a time. Don’t buy everything that you think you might need. Just get small new material purchases on a staggered basis. This allows you to appreciate each material for its unique qualities and value, before you go on to the next one! There is value in limiting your available choices when attempting to be creative. Savour the experience just because you can – you may as well. But be assured – you can draw everything you need to with a

ream of photocopy paper (bound together with string if need be) (AU$6 approx),
three graphite pencils – 2B, 4B, 6B, a sharpener and an eraser! (AU $3 approx).
Colour pencils are desirable.

So pleaseeee! don’t let cost deter you.

Lesson 1: Getting Started – An Introduction to Journaling.
Drawing – A Cheerful Bunch

Before we begin. This course is meant to be enjoyable and relaxing. So let’s do something really relaxing – go out and pick some flowers. They don’t have to be the flashiest, finest flowers in the world. They can be weeds and green grasses. They can be large or small. Try to pick as many as you can, keeping your vase topped up with fresh flowers right throughout out the course. Most (but not all) of the drawing exercises over the four weeks will be about some aspect of floral arrangement. (Including the reflections on the vase.) Hopefully this will bring you cheer. And here comes Mrs Duck to introduce the first short exercise! Let’s start with the simplest of exercises. The exercise is modelled on Drawing From The Right Hand Side of The Brain.

Soft Pencil 2B, 4B or 6B
Visual Journal
Printed Picture of Duck With a Life Bouy. From Scotch Designs.
Time Taken : 1/2 maximum

Please read Draw What You See

“The biggest problem that artists must overcome is not one of technique or of inspiration. The biggest problem is the lack of seeing.

Print the picture of “A Duck With a Life Bouy.”
Keep the Picture in its upside down position. Try not to take any notice what so ever of what the picture is about.
(For the purposes of this exercise I will not talk to you about where to start or finish.)
Draw the picture as neatly as you can.
When you have finished sign and date it for your records.
It would be good to draw like this for 15 mins a day. Any old picture will do.

Okay. I hope you found that the picture was very easy to draw and more or less in proportion. To be able to draw it upside down you had to focus on the shapes and lines and not on the subject matter. This meant that you were not trying to draw from memory and to fill in bits and pieces that were not really there at all. Every time you draw remember this and try not to interpret your subject matter but rather just ‘draw what you see.’ That can be hard at first but it comes naturally with practise. Journal daily and the exercises provided throughout the course will guide you so that you learn to draw exactly what you see. You do not have to do more than one a day. Pick and choose as you go. By the end of the course there will be a check list to make sure that you have tried all techniques and had as much chance as possible to try all kinds of ideas. When you are happy with your drawing please join us in the discussion area. If you have a scanner post the picture. You will receive feedback and be able to view the efforts of others. Maybe you would like to empower others with your comments and questions. During the course of the discussion we’ll talk about how we can learn to see with more depth and clarity.

Lesson 1: Getting Started – An Introduction to Journaling.
Warm Up Exercises.

Quick exercises to warm you up and get you experimenting.

From the vase of flowers you have bought – choose just one. Draw this flower as quickly as you can. Use line only. 5 mins max.
Now choose three flowers to draw. Draw them as quickly as you can. Don’t stop to think about any thing. When you have drawn these flowers briefly using only a light 2b pencil. Sign it, date it, and move on to the next exercise. 5 mins max.
Do quick scribble drawings again but this time enlarge them to fill the whole A4 page. Draw a little more slowly and carefully. You can use an eraser for this exercise to remove any smudges and to help keep the flowers as clean as possible. 10mins max.
You can use the drawing just finished for this exercise. Fill the drawing you have just sketched with colour just as you see it. Don’t worry about whether you thought it was ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Put the colour quickly whereever you think it should go and just enjoy the experience.
Repeat this exercise again. (The reason you are being asked to do the same thing again is so that you have warmed up and have become familiar with the subject matter.) Now for something strange!@#$ I want you to colour the background. Don’t have any particular idea in mind. All you have to do is choose a colour to put behind you flowers so that they stand out against the background.

Lesson 1: Getting Started – An Introduction to Journaling.
Drawing Exercise 2. An Exercise Drawing Crumpled Paper.

When you Click on the link below a pop up window will appear. Follow the exercise as described by Kirk Bjorndahl and you will be pleasantly surprised. “This exercise shows you that you CAN draw what you see. In this exercise the final product isn’t the reason for the exercise, the process of seeing and drawing the wrinkles as you see them is the object.” Here, as in the first exercise, (drawing a picture upside down) you are not meant to think about what it is you are REALLY drawing, rather you ‘see’ the individual shapes and forms that make up the whole.

Lesson 1: Getting Started – An Introduction to Journaling.

14 Reasons Why Artsists Keep Visual Journals Jo Murphy.

Resources About Creativity I have included a link to the entire footnote section of “Nine Classroom Creativity Killers” Marvin Bartel – 2001 Because it is excellent and because Bartel has very interesting discussions and side notes in his side bars. Please enjoy. If these resources stimulate ideas for discussion do not hesitate to share them with us.

Glossary of Art Terms It is important that we all share the same language about art. Nancy Doyle.

Draw What You See Adrian Ludwin “The part of the brain responsible for this filtering is the left side of the brain (all those who have read “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, please skip to the first exercise). It replaces the bricks in the building with the word “wall”, the vintage Model T with the word “car”. But when you actually start to notice and observe what is around you, you can force another part of your brain into action; the right side.”

Learn To

Drawing People
Drawing Basics
Drawing Caricature

Improve your art skills when you feel like it and when you have the time! No need to take expensive art classes if you want to draw people, caricatures, or just want to know how an artist works. These drawing lessons are presented by Kirk Bjorndahl, a professional artist with over ten years of experience drawing portraits and caricatures. I have paid the made a payment of $14.95 for a 5 year period as I think this is well worth the money. However the links I have provided are to the free section of his courses.

Lesson 2: Line An Essential Ingredient.

Let’s keep this section of the course simple. I am going to describe for you one simple way to learn to draw using line. There are many, many ways to approach drawing. I will provide links to the ideas and theories of others – so that you can choose from a wide variety of methods and techniques. But for the time being. Lets just keep it simple.

Introduction – More About Attitude than Technique

Have you ever been told that you have an attitude problem?

Have you ever stopped to think what that may mean?

Do you actually know what an attitude is?

The definition of attitude is “readiness to respond, with some degree of favourableness in a consistent manner.”

That is what I would like to impart to you throughout this course, through the discussion boards and via the exercises you print out to keep beside your journal. The attitude of readiness will continue to develop well after the course is over.
When artists teach drawing, they usually impart their knowledge about technique. Or they set various exercises which encourage particular ways of seeing and drawing what we see. Rather than do that myself – I will refer the reader to various exercises on a variety of websites and provide links to exercises and information portals in the resource section. You can of course search out these kind of links too. Please post the links if you find information you think will be useful. I will guide you to these resources rather than explain them myself. As they have already been adequately explained. Rather I hope to journal a process of imagining with you, as I describe ways to improve your ability to become self motivated, and develop a style and sense of direction of your own.

Your journal reflects your attitude to yourself, your ability and your artwork. The ‘ability’ or the ‘talent’ to draw resides within. It cannot be taught to you, nor can it be drawn forth from you by another.

“When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”

I believe this wholeheartedly. It is a very apt saying. Students will not become inclined to reclaim the ability to see in an artistic manner until they are perfectly ready. By experiencing this course you will begin to devise ways that allow you as an artist to ‘get ready’ for the ride of a life time. I say that because your ride will actually last a life time. If you are ready it will become an integrated part of your whole life’s experience – if you let it. The life style is a way of being, rather than an act of doing, and slowly this ‘gratitude attitude’ will seep through your entire artistic endeavours. If you find you are not ready. You may develop a taste for that peaceful mindset and gravitate back to it later. When you have more time or you are under less stress. The reasons we don’t come to a position of creativity can be numerous. Dabble until the time comes and viola! One day it will just appear. Like the stranger in The Hundred Acre Woods ……… read on…….

Lesson 2: Line An Essential Ingredient.
Define The Working Space

Before you begin define the space within which you will be drawing.
I don’t mean your studio space…(getting a studio space ready is the topic for a whole essay!) I mean on the page itself.
Conventionally we do this by drawing a light border.
A good rule of thumb is to draw the lines 10mm in from the edge of the page.
Do this sides and top.
The bottom is wider – 20mm from the bottom edge.
The reason we add a little more at the bottom is to make it appear heavier thus more stable.

This assists your ability to design in a variety of ways.

It helps the drawer

to see the relationship between positive and negative space. Spatial Issues.

More Info

to judge size against another area
to get used to the idea of cropping
and to become used to the purpose of framing and edging of drawings.

These are complex ideas each and every one of them. They will not be dealt with extensively within the context of this course because they are the subject matter of an entire course in themselves. I will briefly touch on them though when we discuss culminating exercises in the last lesson.

Lesson 2: Line An Essential Ingredient.
The Tacit Nature Of Drawing

When I first learnt to understand what tacit meant on the piano – I was fascinated. You are trying to play something that is not really there. Similarly when an artist begins to sketch he/she is attempting to make marks on the page to ‘try them out.’
At this stage of the drawing,


push and pull,

go over areas of the drawing time and time again.

Cover the page with huge amounts of energy.

The energy will be vague marks that act as signposts and suggestions.

Only when you are ready to commit to a final idea will your lines begin to become expressive.

Before drawing the artist will need to make some basic decisions.

What will the subject matter be?
How will it be arranged?
What materials will best reflect the nature of the subject matter?
These are muddled decisions and often come about as part of a subconscious process.
They are not neatly nestled, methodical steps of a process.
They are intuitive stages of evolvement of design.
Instruction about them cannot be precise and prescriptive.
You will develop your own style and pattern of engaging in working drawings.

However until you have come to develop your own working method, I suggest you do the exercises provided throughout the course. When the time has come for you to take off in your own direction – substitute your own ideas for the ones provided here. And please of course share them with us. Won’t you? Set out below is a visual description of the types of lines that artists use to draw up and block in the basics of designs. They have been arranged in a sequential order – however your own personal style may move you to approach the tasks they represent in a different manner. If you stray away and then feel uncomfortable and begin to flounder I suggest you come back to the suggestions until such time as you feel comfortable. In the end you will intuitively know what to do.

Now that you have read that short essay, I would like you to get your flower arrangement and begin to draw methodically in this way…..

Pssst! Draw quickly. Do not turn the exercise into a hard deliberative chore. Rather just have a go and have fun!

Whisper Lines.

These are the lines that an artist uses when first approaching the page. Soft, gentle, so unnoticable that you do not need an eraser. They are hardly there.

Most of the classic artists used these lines and allowed them to remain in the final expression. Quick, expressive gesture lines such as these imbue the drawing with the quality of a thought process. The viewer can trace the process of creation.

Play with these lines,
experiment with them,
push them this way and that.
Pull them about on the page
before deciding whether to allow them to became a part of the drawing.

Ghost Lines.

These lines are a little bit more tangible. What they say is “I am a lil’ bit more sure and I’ll have a rough guess about this, but whatever you do don’t hold me to this as I am just not ready!”

Scribble Drawings

These lines are a little more certain. By the time you have arrived at this point you will have made decisions about issues such as

what the longest line will be (approximately)
and you will be enjoying the process so much that you will be scribbling away energetically, and quickly.
Let a rough mass of scribbles appear very quickly on the page
….but keep them ever so light.
Allow the subconscious to speak to you gently.
Listen intently to your heart.
Have a relaxed, enjoyable time but commit to nothing.

And so tacitly, tacitly we go.

Getting It Into Proportion.

OOps! I guess we had to re-enter the real world eventually. The Chapter called “Taking A Sight on Reason, Ratios, and Relationships.’ from the recommended text Drawing on the Artist Within. pp184-203 will illuminate these matters for you. Lets step back and take a look. It is time to make some judgements. Place the whole drawing away from you propped up against a wall or on an easel. Walk as far away from it as you can without losing clear sight of the drawing. Now you can experience the drawing as gestalt. Allow the overall effect wash over you and ‘feel’ the feeling it gives you. Take mental note of the feelings or list them quickly into your journal but don’t particularly worry about expression now. Look at whether the porprotions feel right to you. Do some areas need reworking, with regard to size in comparison with each other?

[Side Note. Ssssh! This would be a good time to commune with your muse. Have a look to see whether the subconscious has exaggerated some aspect of the drawing for a poetic reason. Can you respond to the beckoning of your angels? If you don’t want to get side tracked at this point, and I suggest that you don’t – scan or photocopy the drawing just the way it is. Glue it into your journal and come back to it later.]

Viola! – Engage.

Oh dear. It is time to make a commitment. Remember many of these lines are guidelines (see: Directional Lines and Vanishing Points.) and are not meant to be a part of the final drawing.

Leave them exactly where they are.
Don’t rub them out and what ever you do don’t firm them up either.
Just let them guide you gently.
Now relax!
This part of the drawing is crucial. Often it is the point at which some people become discouraged.
Just relax into working around the drawing in a circular motion – reorganising the shapes in proportion to each other.
Go around once very, very lightly correcting the elements in relation to each other.
Relax into it. Go around again and again correcting and correcting.
What you have is an effect something like “changing rooms.” As you correct one element another will look out of kilter.
Don’t overwork the drawing.
Don’t forget that the reason we have chosen flowers as our subject matter is so that we don’t have to be absolutely accurate. Near enough is good enough.

Once you are comfortable with the designal elements of the drawing it is time to begin to shade. Shading itself is dealt with separately in another lesson but the description reads as before.

Work the drawing in a circular motion.
As each element changes the ones next to them may feel too light or too dark.
Don’t overwork it.
At some stage your inner voice will caution you to stop.
Listen to your muse she always beckons one to a place of comfort.

Points to remember.

I always watch my students closely to make sure they are not becoming discouraged. Discouragement in artistic ventures comes about when we are too self critical. Even if you do art for a living – the catch to the whole venture is that you can’t do it well if you are not enjoying the process. It is important not to become too self-critical. As you step back from your easel tell any thoughts about ‘good or bad’ to go. Look only to see whether the parts are resting comfortably in relation to each other. Note your feelings about whether the composition is pleasing. Appraise issues of light and tone. See whether the different elements are falling into place for you. But don’t can the drawing. Acceptance is the key to your artistic development. Be happy with the little gains you have made in the exercise you have attempted. At the appropriate time move on. Don’t judge any one piece of work outside the context of your overall development. And don’t allow anyone else to do this either. Ask for feedback in the discussion area and make note in your journal of what you have achieved and what needs improvement. Have fun. Make friends. Groups of like-minded people can work wonders as a source of empowerment.
As you draw – work quickly.
Try to turn off the rational logical side of your mind.
What works for one artist may or may not work for another.
I suggest that you read, research and practice techniques separately.
When attempting a drawing that you hope will be an artistic statement – train your mind to turn off the side of the brain that allowed you to learn these techniques.
At some stage there will be a cut off point where your artwork begins to just ‘sing.’
This point is similar to the time when a musician switches from learning a piece of music to ‘playing’ a piece of music from memory.
It is an entirely different experience. Time will pass without you knowing and lines and marks will appear on the paper without your conscious effort.

The sad part of this process is that it will not happen if you are striving hard, and pushing yourself. You can’t make it happen. Remember …

(Tao Te Ching), written by Lao-tzu 24
He who stands on tiptoe is not steady.
He who strides cannot maintain the pace.

That is why it is so essential to journal daily. Do the groundwork and the artistic statements will happen.
If you develop your talent in this way your achievements will be sustained.

Lesson 2: Line An Essential Ingredient.
The Essentials Of Line drawing

Remember – “Don’t Try To Eat The Whole Elephant” Take each step in very baby and easy stages. Even professionals can benefit from going back to the pure simplicity of the quickest line drawing.

Make sure you have positioned your model in an interesting pose. If you don’t have a model you can draw a flower or just about anything. The method works no matter what you are drawing.
Draw a rectangle to define the space in which you are working.
This helps you develop an understanding of negative space.
It also helps you see that you need to measure proportion.
Draw a directional line.

This line gives you the position of the object
and allows you to begin to place shapes around it.
It will act as a pivot.
Imagine at all times that you can rotate your image on this axis.
Draw the largest shape onto this line using scribble lines or whisper lines.
They must be very light
so that you can come back and correct them.
This way you can learn from your mistakes and not be ‘put off’ by dark lines that aren’t how you want them to be.

Work around your drawing in a circular fashion attaching the adjacent shapes to the shapes you have already drawn.
Keep working around the centre of the drawing doing the same thing.
Compare and contrast the shapes as you go.
If they aren’t the right size change them

this is why you have been drawing so lightly.

Keep crawling around your drawing as many times as is required for you to correct and to reposition.
Judge each shape against the other
starting from the centre moving outwards so that you are continually becoming more confident
gain a feeling of accuracy with regard to size and position.
As you become more confident that your drawing is in the proportions you desire – become firmer with your pencil.
Look closely at the places where shapes attach to each other.

Do they need to be widened?
Once you have settled on exactly where your lines should go,
and once you have made each line as expressive as you want to.
You can either rub out the whisper guidelines
….or not…
depending on the look and finish you desire.

pssst!! Personally I like the whisper lines left in, as they make the drawing look more authentic and give the viewer a clue that a human has been present.

No matter what your drawing looks like bring it over to the discussion area with us. Let’s catch up and see how it all went?

Lesson 2: Line An Essential Ingredient.
Combining Line and Shape.

How to draw up soft guidelines and recognize shapes within objects, composition and design.

Why is an understanding of shape so important to drawing?

Without understanding shapes and their relationships to each other the artist can not draw up basic guidelines and layout basic designs adequately. By gaining a very good understanding of shapes and how they work together with lines the artist can lay the foundation for good design and clear and concise expression.

A shape is an enclosed line – it reaches back to itself.

Yes it is that simple! And everything that we see is made up of

lines ….
or lines and shapes combined.
The rest is added extras. (Shadows for example.)

How simple it is!

The shapes fit together around an axis.
If you draw them lightly enough you can play with them until they are positioned correctly.
And so long as you don’t complicate it by adding extraneous elements of design you will be able to practice until you feel
and confident.

Shapes are an important aspect of design and it is important to understand the significance of positive and negative shapes in relation to the larger area within which the artist works. Many artists choose to focus predominantly on shape in their drawings.

How do artists learn to copy shapes adequately? One way to learn to draw accurately is to copy pictures upside down. This helps us to focus on the shape itself instead of what the shape is. However there are many, many ways to improve our ability to adequately describe what we see. And so in the drawing exercises section I have set out drawing experiments and tasks taken from other websites. Explore these ideas and techniques. Seek out other drawing exercises. There is a huge library of them on the web. They are either free or very reasonably priced. I never begrudge paying the artists for the time and effort they have put into setting out these exercises as it keeps the community going. All of the exercises have value and they all benefit our visual literacy by focusing on a different aspect of training the eye to see.

Try them all. Don’t try them all at once though. Don’t spend too much time or you may get frustrated and discouraged. If you are gentle with your attempts at literacy you will succeed. When you have had a fair go at what you find….. pop over to the discussion area to have a yarn about what you have discovered. Don’t forget to sign and date your drawings.

Lesson 2: Line An Essential Ingredient.
Drawing Exercises.

Types of Line Drawings

Contour Drawing and Blind Contour Drawing

(a.)Contour Drawing is a process of line drawing where one must concentrate on a single point and follow the contours of the body. This process should be done in one long continuous line to mimic the way that the eye works. When doing a contour drawing, you are improving your eye-hand coordination, an important skill in both art and athletics.

(b.)Blind Contour Drawing infers that one is not looking at the figure. In fact, the process of blind contour drawing is just the opposite. You must look only at the figure and “feel” your way across the paper. This takes quite a bit of practice because we have been taught to constantly look at the paper as we draw.
Quick Exercise.
Imagine that you have a piece of glass separating you from the object that you are drawing. On that invisible piece of glass, pretend to trace the form of the pear. Using your pencil, trace around the object while closing one eye and focusing on the pencil tip. Concentrate on the object and its surface, not just its silhouette. At this point you are moving your eye and hand in unison. Once you feel comfortable with this process, place your pad and paper on your lap and focus on one single point. Move your eye along the contours of the object and move your hand at the same rate of speed across the paper. DO NOT LOOK AT THE PAPER. Keep the speed slow because you are trying to move your hand at the same rate of speed as your eye. The end result may not make sense as you think of a picture, but there will be small portions which will be very specific and detailed. These areas are the small parts that will eventually make up the finished drawing. Your organization of these elements will improve with practice. It is simply the same process as tracing, only the paper is not sitting on top of another picture.

Gesture Drawing.
Because the eye is the guide, a gesture drawing is closely related to contour drawing. Unlike a contour drawing, a gesture drawing focuses on energy and motion, not on the object itself.

Lesson 2: Line An Essential Ingredient.


Gesture Drawing. (New.)

Contour Drawing and Blind Contour Drawing

Directional Lines and Vanishing Points.

Spatial Issues.

Using and Drawing Space.


Lesson 3: Creating Depth

It is very wise to tackle one element of the drawing process at a time when you are starting out on your new venture. Drawing sure can get complicated – but only if you let it.

Overview. Teasing Out The Elements of Rendering.

At this stage of learning to draw people often begin to make it hard for themselves. Don’t be discouraged! It is not hard if you don’t try to “eat the whole elephant in just one bite.” Consciously tease out the different elements of drawing. Learn them separately (although while in context) and then put them back together later. It is a simple exercise in gestalt psychology. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Later you will be guided by intuition. For now do the preparatory work of research, practice and study.

I am going to

  1. walk you through a verbal
  2. and visual description of the drawing process.
  3. separate two different elements of rendering that have been used in one drawing.
  4. I will show you how I drew in black and white first
  5. then applied colour.

This descriptive exercise will show you

  • why shading in tone is a different from using colour to create depth.
  • and why it is also the same.

I know this sounds a bit odd!It is done in exactly the same way….but…it is different. Let us begin… Larger VersionYou have sufficient skills in your repertoire now to

    1. choose the subject matter
    2. decide on the look and style you wish to create
    3. choose the materials that will best enable you to achieve this
    4. define the working space
    5. draw in the shapes and lines using whisper lines
    6. and ghost lines
    7. and any other judging mechanisms such as guide lines that you may need

{I suggest you follow these stages zealously until such time as your intuitive powers take over without your knowledge.}

So now you are ready to begin rendering.

This is the first stage of the drawing. I have created the design with light and shade. No colour. Look carefully at the enlarged version by clicking on it and you will see that I have achieved this result by using a variety of techniques.

  • hatching
  • crosshatching
  • building up the back ground – by making it darker behind the subject matter. (There is a thorough discussion of this technique in the abstract section.)
  • For the sake of this exercise I have kept the light source even – however this too can become complicated if you let it.

Now that we have come this far. I have cropped the image and placed it into a very formal system of borders. This is to further define our working space when we are using colour to create a neutral back ground.

Larger Version


Remembering that what goes back in space gets darker. And remembering that cooler colours are darker and recede. We are now faced with the task of rendering the subject and backround matter using these techniques intuitively. It requires quite a bit of shuffling. Eventually it will all come naturally to you. But until then lets try talking it through.

  • The flower will be red and that is a warm colour so this is easy.
  • For this flower I have chosen a
      1. cool,
      2. dark crimson pencil,
      3. a warm light cadium red pencil,
      4. a cool yellow pencil


    1. white.
  • Working on just the beads of the flower I tackle each one sperately. I used the darker crimson red and hatched around the outer edge of the bead.
  • I then hatched the lighter red across the top of it.
  • Toward the end I hatched the yellow over this and then blended it all together with the white.
  • With practice a technique will evolve for you within which you will be able to work quickly and efficiently.
  • Because the procees involves patterning it will be very relaxing, in much the same way that cross stitching is.
  • Any technique that requires repetition is comforting. It is therefor relaxing and therefor can be therapeutic.
  • So if you find the technique frustratingly slow at first – with time it will become relaxing and facile.
  • Enjoy

Now is the rest of the process obvious? I would really like to know. Tease your way through the rest of the drawing. Draw a flower in the same way yourself – and – I will meet you in the discussion area to discuss how you went.


Lesson 3: Creating Depth

Creating Depth Through Hatching.



  1. Hatching is a system of building up depth by rapidly applying parallell lines in varying widths and spaces.
  2. The wider apart the lines are the lighter the shading.
  3. The closer they are the darker it gets.
  4. Hatching is often rough (adds character) but some artists use the technique frequently and have eveness of line and consistency down to a fine art.
  5. Sometimes hatching converges.
  6. It is possible to use any medium and all colours.

Cross Hatching

  1. Cross hatching is when the system is made richer by deepening the level of complexity by crossing systems of hatching across the top of each other.
  2. It is an unlimited system. Colour can be added by using as many different coloured pencils as you like.
  3. Other media can be added or used in conjunction with the hatching/crosshatcing such as water colour pencils can be smaudged. A spray diffuser can be sprayed across the top of the hatching for a textured effect.

The technique is limited only by your imagination. If you come up with effects that you like post them in the discussion area and we can all share in the fun!

Lesson 3: Creating Depth

Light and Shadow

Chiaroscuro During the Italian Renaissance, artists used this convention or formula for applying light and shadow to objects. This practice made it possible for artists to create an illusion of depth by simply following a standard set of rules for applying light and shadow to a form. Later I will also stress the use of background to define form. This is not always taught formally however – I believe that it is a handy tool to have in your repetoire.

First let me set out some rules for you. And define some terms. Put an example of each idea into your visual journal. Read Chiaroscuro In my own words : what goes back in space gets darker – what comes forward gets lighter. If you apply this idea as a principle you can’t really go wrong. I would like to guide you through some very simple exercises that show you the idea and then hand you over to other instructors to take you the rest of the way.

    1. Define your working space. Rectangle.
    2. Draw an ellipse.
    3. Draw two paralellel lines from each edge of the elipse pointing downwards.

Turn the whole page upside down (You should be used to this) and repeat the arc at the bottom of the cylander to match the top one.

  1. Place a directional line through the centre of the cylander. Directional Line
  2. Now that you have the directional line dividing the cylander in half – carve the pot into whatever shape you would like the final piece to be. Make sure the two sides match and that the pot is symetrical.
  3. Now begin to shade using hatching. Shade the areas that are logically more distant from you – so that they look like they go back in space. Particularly shade the inside of the pot much darker as it logically is in shadow.
  4. Shade logically around to form building up depth by crossing your hatching.
  5. Once you are happy with your form – sign and date it.
  6. Make a note that this is a form in even daylight with no particular light focus or direction. Make a note that you have made no attempt to achieve transparency or capture reflections. Make sure you make a mental note that you are learning one element of rendering at a time.

If you have done that without trying to achieve more than your one simple objective you have done well!

The diagram above shows a way of simplifying shading so that it can be applied to any surface. Like any convention, good observation from life helps to get better results

Now I’ll send you off to do another exercise with another artist. Feel free to post your attempts in the discussion area. I suggest that you practice drawing like this for 10mins a day in your journal until achieving depth in this manner is a habit.

Drawing An Egg

In this exercise Kirk Bjorndahl teaches you about shading and shadows. Write the definition of Highlight into your journal as well.

The point closest to the light source where light is most concentrated. Highlights are easiest to see on reflective or glossy surfaces.

Lesson 3: Creating Depth

Background Depth

Back grounds are extremely important. Even if you are going to leave the background blank – then – the descision to do this is extremely important.

I am going to show you how to use the background to throw your subject matter forward. View this example.

The drawing was lightly sketched with whisper lines. When the form was sufficiently articulated the background was rendered darker than the subject matter, by a series of hatchings and cross hatchings. This built the back ground surface up making it recede behind the subject matter.This left the flowers blank or perhaps lightly hatched around the edges and standing out in high contrast. They can then be lightly washed over in water colour or built up in a series of cross hatchings in coloured pencil. (Or any other medium you care to come up with.)

So the idea is to

  1. define your space so that you do know clearly what area your dealing with.
  2. Build up layers of depth. Building layers up from behind can be extremely important because if you have a look at your vase of flowers – or – of a photo of a vase of flowers you will find that the flowers are in light and the spaces between the flowers are in shadow. If you can’t find a way of capturing that effect, they will look “washed out and inauthentic.”
  3. Spend 10 mins a day looking at nature and finding places where the background throws the subject matter in highlight. One example of this is where the horizon meets the sky. If this horizon line is treelined you will find there is a great deal of depth behind tham. Find something really interesting to share and post it in the discussion area for us all to have a look at.

Please read :

A Diary of Learning Drawing Techniques By Gayle M. Bird And here is another excellent example of using the background to highlight the subject matter. Red, White & Blue. Water Colour Sharon Himes.c 2002

Lesson 3: Creating Depth



Perspective is a matter of practice. It is as simple as that. Take time to read the articles listed below. Try out the exercises the teachers suggest. Practice on a daily basis. But even more importantly

  1. When you are drawing, or taking photographs, or cutting out images – actively develop an awareness of perspective as you see it in your daily life.
  2. Because you have become a scout for new ideas, techniques and methods keep looking at your environment.
  3. As you see powerful examples of perspective around you take photographs, quickly sketch them, trace the photographs. Do any thing you find useful in your quest for knowledge, but study the examples carefully.
  4. Ask yourself is this one point or two point perspective?
  5. Ask your self “where is the light source coming from?”
  6. Don’t get caught up in it! Just become more and more aware.
  7. Consciously saturate yourself in perspective and eventually you will just intuitively see like that.

Good luck then! If you come up with really good drawings or have difficulties let’s tease them out in the discussion area.


    1. One Point Perspective

In one point perspective there is only one vanishing point.

Technique Demonstration: One-Point Perspective.


  1. Two point perspective
  2. The difference between one point and two point perspective explained. “In one-point perspective, the forms are seen face on and are drawn to a single vanishing point. Objects seen at an angle would be drawn with two-point perspective using two vanishing points.”
  3. Foreshorteningforeshortening explained


Lesson 3: Creating Depth

Drawing Exercises.

A Drawing Project.

  • Do some research on the Internet, and find images of castles.
  • Read information about the castles, and explore any aspects that interest you. Medieval Castles is a good place to begin.
  • Then design and create a 3-D drawing of your own castle, using geometric solids.
  • You should have at least one each of the four solids prism, pyramid, cylinder, cone.
  • This is agreat exercise because you can construct a whole world easily from your imagination.
  • You can do the final drawing with whatever textures you decide to devise.
  • Later when you are comfortable and having fun you can people the castle with whatever creatures and entities – you like.
  • But in the meantime use the exercise to create a space to practice perspective, guidelines, shading and tone.
  • The exercise can be as simple as you like it or as complex.
  • You can work out each element one at a time and then later construct the whole scene.

Lesson 3: Creating Depth


A Diary of Learning Drawing Techniques By Gayle M. Bird


building up the back ground – by making it darker behind the subject matter


define the working space

Drawing An Egg

foreshortening explained


Poly Karbon Tutorials  A tip on Foreshortening. (This is great site jam packed with tutorials.) Foreshortening is never really easy and it’s something you will have to get comfortable with over time with practice…but here’s a tip…..


Medieval Castles

Red, White & Blue. Water Colour Sharon Himes.c 2002

Shading Kirk Bjorndahl  An easy way to create shading is to look for the shapes that the shadows and highlights create, then draw these shapes as toned areas on your drawing.

Technique Demonstration: One-Point Perspective.

The differencebetween one point and two point perspective explained.

The World Of Escher.

Tips and Information Discussing Chirascuro. During the Italian Renaissance, artists used this convention or formula for applying light and shadow to objects. This practice made it possible for artists to create an illusion of depth by simply following a standard set of rules for applying light and shadow to a form.

Tracing On Your Frame  Say it with me – “Your logical mind says it doesn’t know how.” Because the object seems to get distorted in the foreshortening, your logical mind freaks out and sees that the object you want to draw doesn’t conform to the “symbol” that it knows.


Lesson 4: Colour

Don’t forget that it is possible to draw without using colour. I believe that it is sometimes advisable to draw in black and white or monochrome for quite a while before adding the complication of colour to your understanding of how depth is created. For this reason I will only touch on the basics of colour and write a seperate course about colour in the future.

Colour Theory.

I am afraid that not many artists get by with out some colour theory. My aim is to keep it simple.

  • Basically there are three primary colours.
    1. Red
    2. Blue
    3. Yellow
  • There Are Three Secondary Colours.
    1. Orange
    2. Purple
    3. Green

There is an added complication. There are two types of each primary colour. Warm and Cool.

Because the many mixtures that can come from this complicate colour theory no end – I am not even going to attempt any thing but the simplist explanation of how colour works in drawing. I suggest that in keeping with the spirit of the course I will restrict the colour range I ask you to use and give only excercises where this added complication won’t come in to play. Feel free to experiment if you want to but it is not a requirement of the course. If however you find that you want more information I will add links in the resouces section and I will also explain any thing that is asked in the discussion area at length. Later I will write a course about colour and go into the complexities of it all but just for today I will remain focused….I hope that you can too.

Please read Creating A Colour Wheel. Make your self a wheel or find one that you like on the internet and print it so that you can have the image in front of you as you read.

Warm Colours

Warm colours are those colours on the section of the wheel that come side by side – and read as yellow, orange and red. So the warm colours are red, orange and yellow and any derivatiove of them. Mixing with cool yellows can complicate this but it is a rule of thumb. [A cool yellow will be warmer than a warm blue? Hmmm! Don’t complicate matters.] Warm colours have emotive conotations and they are linked to the quality of the colours and also are triggered verbally as we speak about them. So for example red is the colour of anger. Yellow indicates the warmth of the sun. It is all obvious but needs stating as you begin. Later colour combinations will come to you intuitively. It becomes its own science once we begin to experiment specifically with abstract composition and notions such as receding,vibrant,serene.

Cool Colours

They are the colours along the side of the colour wheel Purple, Blue and Green. They have warm and cool versions too. Cool colours describe emotions such as serenity, peace, femininity.

Don’t complicate anything at all. Just remember cool colours go back in space. Warm colours come forward. As we experiment your understanding of this concept will come about naturally.


Lesson 4: Colour

Texture Makes The Difference!

Add this definition to the glossary you are creating. Texture is: “Making Something Look Like It Would Feel If You Touched It.” The reasons we attempt to do this are numerous. Here are some of them.

    1. By making a subject textured we make it look more convincing. We can convince the viewer that they it is real and that they could reach right out and touch the object.
    2. It is a challenge! Trompe L’oeil artists make the rendering of textures the main focus of their art and so do many abstract artists.
    3. But purely realistic artists like Van Eyke do too. and so it is a very major under taking and one that cannot just be ignored.
    4. To evoke emotions. Many emotions are evoked by touch. By incorporating touch into the picture we have appealed to those viewers who need to literally ‘feel to feel.’ A good example of this need to ‘feel to feel’ is evidenced in the drawing “Never Tickle A Dragon With A Feather.” This a picture of a dragon being tickled by a feather focuses on the feather and the expression of the dragon and minimises all other sensory details within the picture.

Do some of the exercises offered here and if they are not your cup of tea store the knowledge for later. With in the world of art one can never have too much knowlegde. At some stage in the future you will burning desire to be able to capture texture. It is a good idea to consciously develop an awareness of texture as it ocurrs naturally in the environment around you. If you have a digital camera snap all kinds of shots of all kinds of different textures and keep them in an online gallery such as webshots. (Free)

Here is a variety of ways you can achieve a textured look. Approach the list below as a series of exercises. Take the same texture : for example a piece of hesion and try to represent this cloth by –

        1. Contrast of Light and Dark. Build it up through copying the shading.
        2. Patterning. Draw the cloth using simple lines with a fine tipped black felt pen (or a hb pencil) to capture the patterning of the weave.
        3. Collage. Collect photos from magazines or take your own. Arrange them into a collage.
        4. Rubbings. Place thin paper over the cloth and with a very soft pencil (6b) do a rubbing so that it picks up on the rough weave.
        5. Sculpturally Moulding. Crumple the cloth into a ball and place it into wet plaster. (cover it in vaseline [petroleum jelly]) This will work so long as you only do a small scrap.

These last two are added as a side note to draw your attention to the idea that there are many, many ways to build up texture – don’t attempt colour and mixed media yet. Store your ideas for later.

      1. Contrast of Colour
      2. Mixing Media.

By experiencing the sheer joy of building layers, and creating visual effects the artist can build up a repertoire of skills. By journaling these techniques daily you will perhaps come up with a wealth of abstract ideas that can be utilised whenever inspiration is not so easy to access.


Lesson 4: Colour

Colour and Texture Combined.

This is a quick note and the offering of a quick exercise for those of you who want the added extra challenge.

If an artist wants to be ‘super real’ or graphically realistic eventually there is a need to combine all of the elements of design into one final statement. To do this the artist must be able to use colour theory and an ability with texture – in the same subject matter.

So here is a quick exercise to get you thinking. Don’t be discouraged if you find it too hard – let that experience guide you to start collecting information. About colour and about texture. Eventually this knowledge will all come together.

Draw a cactus in flower in front of a window pane. In other words – choose a subject which will combine a variety of textures such as prickly, soft and glassy – with a variety of different colours which also give different qualities. Such as transparency. See how you go – and then move on. The way I approach a task such as this is take each element at a time and draw it seperately and then combine the lot into one last final drawing. Let us know how you went about it over on the discussion board.


Lesson 4: Colour

Drawing Exercise 1 Using Colour.


Understanding The Use of Warm/Cool Colours Spatially

  • Materials
  • 2B, 4B, or 6B Graphite Pencil
  • Oil Pastels or Coloured Pencils.
  • Visual Journal
    1. Draw a flower very simply.
    2. Start with a basic circle and draw a circle of petals around it.
    3. Add one stem.

(Remember the exercise is about colour and not drawing itself.)

  1. Fill the centre of the flower with a dark shade of orange.
  2. Fill each petal with yellow – you can use a darker shade around the edges of the petal so that they ‘recede.’
  3. Colour the stem of the flower and the leaves with a very yellow green.
  4. Cross hatch yellow across the green in the opposite direction if that is required to achieve the hue you are looking for.
  5. Colour the background blue in stages.
  6. Starting in the spaces behind each petal, begin to radiate outwards using a dark blue.
  7. Graduate to lighter blue as you come out from behind the flower.
  8. Try to graduate firmly but smoothly so that you are left with a lighter blue in the open spaces of the picture plane.
  9. You can cross hatch purple over the blue behind the flower if you want the background to recede even further.
  10. Follow the stages in the pictures provided.
  11. Work this drawing up until it is a very simple colour drawing that you like.
  12. Keep it for later as we will use it in our framing exercises. Sign and date your work.

This kind of drawing can be used for simple ceramic tiles or other situations where you are looking for attractive intense colour but not much detail. Simple Greeting or Gift Tag Cards are another use for this kind of drawing. This leads us to the next exercise which is to create out own colour wheel.

Creating A Colour Wheel


Lesson 4: Colour

Creating A Colour Wheel.

Let’s Keep This Simple.

    • On a sheet of A4 paper draw a circle six inches in diameter.
    • Divide the circle into six equal parts – like a pie graph.

[You could if you wanted to make one in Excell.]

  • Colour each part in this order.
    1. yellow
    2. orange
    3. red
    4. purple
    5. blue
    6. green
  • mix each of these colours together equally and paint a dot of that colour in the centre of your colour wheel.
  • go back over the outlines with a black felt tipped pen so that the colour wheel is neat.
  • when you are satisfied that this is as neat as possible have it laminated and keep it with you always as a ready reference.

This is the simplest colour wheel possible to make. Leave the added, other, extra, complications for another course unless you have a burning desire to research colour – as – it sure can get complicated if you let it.

Lesson 4: Colour

Extension Exercises – Bear With Me!!

These exercises serve more than one purpose. They are designed to.

  1. Introduce you to different types of colour schemes
  2. Introduce you to the idea that different colour schemes can produce different emotions, feelings, spatial and visual effects.
  3. Gradually introduce the idea that tone and texture can be conveyed by juxtaposition of colour as well as simple black and white tonal effects.
  4. Introduce you to the idea that your drawings can be made into little craft activities or web extras with very little effort.

Pssst!…Feel free to convert the colours of your flowers on the computer if you wish.I can’t encourage you enough to make use of your drawings to create digital images. You can make banners, web buttons and the like. So much cheaper than buying graphics don’t you think? If you don’t have graphic ware or simply don’t want to do these exercises on the computer – draw them into your visual journal. If you like you can create a flower in each colour scheme laminate them and create a set of coasters? If you do them on the computer don’t forget to print out a copy and glue it into your book so that you have your colour theory with you for a ready reference.

Extension Exercises. Click on the picture and the definitions will pop up in another window.

Draw a Flower Using A Monochromatic Colour Scheme.

Monochrome. Draw a Flower Using A Complimentary Colour Scheme. Complimentry Draw a Flower Using An Analogous Colour Scheme.Analaogous.Make A Web Button from one of these drawings – optional.

Draw a Flower Using Triadic Colour Scheme.Triadic.

Look around for other colour combinations and just become more aware of what you like.

Lesson 4: Colour





Creating A Colour Wheel.



Look for texture libraries on the web like this one. TL Currently is in library 857 textures (80 NEW) in 15 categories. (last update JAN 1 2000) Not ALL textures at this library are free.


Lesson 5: Transparency, Reflections, Shadows and the Art Of Illusion.

This section of the course covers the fun aspects of how light works in drawing. To understand how light works it is essential to observe light in action and see how it plays on surfaces. To be able to draw well artists need to understand the concept of transparency, reflection, refraction and luminosity. Whilst facts about light help us to understand cognitively why we are learning about an issue of visual representation – only experience can teach us how to re-create these effects. Don’t forget once the artist has mastered these techniques he or she can also distort representations. Artists have fun doing this for purposes of abstraction and this can be the time when art takes on a life of its own.

Understanding Light and It’s Effects

Understanding reflections requires that the artist understand how they are created. This requires that there is an understanding of

  1. how ‘light source’ effects the way shadows and reflections happen.
  2. the nature of optical illusions that are created by refracted light and luminosity.
  3. be aware of just how complicated that can all get
  4. and how discouraging it can all be, if as an artist we take a whole complex picture and try to re-create it all at once.

What I would advise the beginning artist to do is to actively seek to understand each element one by one.Enjoy this investigation as a process. Don’t be the slightest concerned about fitting the elements into a bigger picture at each stage. Rather just allow the pleasure of being able to create one effect wash over you. You would be surprised how many artists become enthralled by just one element! Look at these examples:

  1. Luminosity was examined by Turner.
  2. Atmospheric effects were examined by Monet.
  3. Perspective and mathematical illusion were examined by Escher.
  4. Optical Illusion became the focus of Bridget Riley.

You can see from this list that many people focus on just one effect. Some examine the effect for very long lengths of time. That is why the artists became experts in their field. They realise how daunting the whole task can be and focus on becoming very good at just one aspect of the conglomerate. I am not saying I would advise budding artists to do this. I don’t do it myself! Rather by taking the time to develop an understanding of the elements of design separately, artists prepare themselves for the times when they want to capture ‘just that essence’! Voila! Remember to come back to that learning focus if drawing becomes discouraging and things just don’t look the way you want them to be. Make a date to revisit each element on a routine basis. This is one of the reasons why you sign and date each diary entry. So that you can regulate your learning and make sure you are moving your talent forward in one smooth transition. Systemise your finesse!

Experiment with each element and keep notes in your diary. If ever you need to ‘hone up’ on the skills required to focus on this element of design you know how to investigate the problem. Have a structured investigation plan to come back to. It will pay dividends at a later date.


Lesson 5: Transparency, Reflections, Shadows and the Art Of Illusion.


When a ray of light travels from one substance into another it is often refracted.

An example of this would be when light travels from air into water.

  1. Light travels at a constant speed within a substance as long as the substance is the same throughout.
  2. However, light travels at different speeds in different substances.
  3. Light travels more slowly in water than in air and this is the cause of refraction.
  4. Refraction is when the light bends at the point where it leaves one substance (air for example) and enters another (water maybe).

Please read this short explanation of refraction.

Refracted LightAgain keep it simple. The idea with art is not to make each idea a matter of scientific explanation – but – rather to understand what is going on behind the scenes and then to draw it (the effect) enough times to be conversant, intuitive and natural. So read the lil’ passage……and then seek to understand it by setting yourself up a lil’ refraction lab. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  1. Place a stick in a glass of water – draw it in black and white or Monochrome.
  2. Place flowers in a vase that is transparent. Draw in monochrome.
  3. Throw a coin into a pond of clear water. Again draw in monochrome.
  4. If you are feeling adventurous choose one of the above and draw it in colour.

I suggest that colour is only for the adventurous at this stage. There is no value in running before you can walk – not if it is going to cause you to fall. If you find it hard – so does everyone! That is why I say “make a note in your diary and move on.” That is why you have a diary – so that you can scatter back when things get difficult. Many, many times you will find that the only time learning to draw becomes easy is when it becomes essential. When it becomes obvious that you need the knowledge in context – for some reason you will suddenly become able to see what was once obscured. Why ? Readiness to perceive? Not sure! But please be aware of this phenomenon if a discouraging situation ever arises. Perception will come when the conditions are ready. Your task is to prepare this place of readiness. All will be well.


Lesson 5: Transparency, Reflections, Shadows and the Art Of Illusion.

Capturing Shadows.

The easiest way to learn to draw shadows is to continually observe and record the way shadows fall. I suggest that you use the same learning techniques outlined for other elements of design.

    1. Cut out and keep magazine photos of objects in strong directional light.

Take photos of lighting effects at every opportunity. Draw every interesting lighting effect you see. (Make the drawings one minute max)

  1. Always be aware of what you are seeing around you. Be on the scout.
  2. Set your self up a little experiment by placing objects into lighting situations.
  3. Record the shadows that fall from objects at different times of the day.
  4. If you come up with ideas, experiments and other ways of learning about light please share them with us in the discussion area.
  5. Do record you work, sign and date it. It will help you so much later on.

I have found over a long period of teaching that students don’t really understand that shadows have set mathematical properties. Because of this they can be learnt like any other language.


“Shadows have vanishing points. They are constructed using guidelines. They are similar to normal perspective but they do not correspond directly to the vanishing points or horizon line. Shadows have their own vanishing points which are called light vanishing points or shadow vanishing points.” Art Studio Chalkboard.

I suggest that drawing up perspective guidelines and then drawing up shadow guidelines every time you want to do a drawing would be confusing and discouraging. (Unless you have a complex and mathematical mind.) My suggestion is that you do what has been suggested through out the course.

  1. Make up your mind what aspect of drawing you are experimenting with and focus on just that.
  2. Do spend some time focusing on just shadows and for those few short exercise draw up shadow guidelines and see the exercises through.
  3. Soon drawing shadows will come naturally to you.

Learn How to Plot Shadows This is a fairly complex method of drawing shadows onto two point perspective guidelines. I don’t suggest that everyone will want to study shadows in such a complex manner – but it is good to see how shadows come about and you may want to experiment for a while until you consolidate the knowledge. Light source complicates the way we draw shadows as well. I suggest that you look at these exercises but don’t get too caught up in them.

Light Source More about light source.

Atmospheric Perspective.

“Aerial or atmospheric interference with visual perception causes loss of contrast, detail and sharp focus. The effect, which Leonardo called “the perspective of disappearance,” tends to make objects seem to take on a blue-grey middle value as they increase in distance. ….

Don’t forget that the English/US/Aussieland translation of all of that means “gets fuzzy and lighter on the horizon line.” This is why it is better to just look and copy. Please read this lesson (rather than skip it), as there is a wealth of information about light. It will be helpful to you at some stage. Again I suggest that you

  1. Look at each point singularly.
  2. Read it.
  3. Absorb it.
  4. But don’t get caught up in having to get it all right just for now.
  5. One thing at a time is a good motto.



Lesson 5: Transparency, Reflections, Shadows and the Art Of Illusion.


Drawing Reflections is not hard. But you do have to be methodical and consistent. Make a deal with your self to

  • Look for reflections in your every day encounters.
  • Set aside 10mins a day for just that kind of observation.
  • Take photos.
  • Cut pictures out of magazines.
  • Make looking at reflections a hobby.
  • Have fun devising new ways to capture reflections.
  • One of my favourite pastimes is photographing on Rainy Days. Try something like that and then…Make collages out of what you find.
  • Soon as the habit of seeing becomes atuned you will be able to capture and incorporate the poetry of reflections into your creations.
  • But until then do take the time to slow down and draw from photographs
  • or use any device that helps you to see.

Soon you will feel comfortable and confident and the skills will be safely tucked away in your….. repertoire! Bravo!


Lesson 5: Transparency, Reflections, Shadows and the Art Of Illusion.



“So what is a non-luminous object? It is any object that does not produce light of its own. For example, the Moon seems to shine at night and provides us with a little bit of light that might help us to find our way around in the dark. But in reality the Moon does not produce its own light; it is just reflecting sunlight that is falling onto it. The Sun can shine on the Moon even when you cannot see the Sun because of the special positions that the Sun, Moon and Earth are in. Sometimes non-luminous objects that reflect light are called illuminated objects.

Luminous and Non-Luminous Objects ‘The Sorceress and the Sea’ by Emmeline Foo Wen Li

There are many ways that an object can come to be lit. The light can come from inside. This could be a lantern, a light bulb, fire or a flame. The light could come from underneath such as a light shining up into something.

Understanding light sources becomes very, very important in paintings and drawings, where light is emanating from one object, which in turn illuminates other objects within the picture frame. Again CAUTION!how complicated was that proposition? It is possible to have lots and lots of sources of light contained within one picture plane. Imagine you are on the streets of Las Vagas? Lots and lots of light sources all blinking and flashing at you at the same time….


Don’t get inspired….. not yet! Too complex. Be kind to yourself and attempt to learn about light gradually. NB* Don’t forget that colour will complicate the situation too.Learn about how light emanates form different sources – one aspect at a time. Try not to complicate the situation by using colour. (Unless you are skilled in this area.) Or you may just end up never wanting to draw again at all. This discouragement happens to many, many aspiring artists. I see it all the time. It dosen’t need to happen to you.

Read around first.

Drink in so much knowledge about light – that you get to the stage where light becomes your friend. Later you can get tricky. But enjoy the learning process until such time as you can.

Tricky does not necessarily = good. Simplicity can sometimes = enjoyment.

If you are gradual and gentle a style will develop that belongs to just you. This is what you are after. Personal fulfilment and blissfulness comes from contentment. The attainment of contentment is a long-term proposition. Just for today have an enjoyable read around. This is a good starting point How Light Works It’s Magic. by J.L.Hagan. Read everything that you can by J.L.Hagan. An understanding of light seems to be his gift. He can explain it with great clarity. I have found that since reading his work I have started to experiment with aspects of lighting that I didn’t know existed! Please take in the exclamation mark. I didn’t know that some ways of representing lighting existed – even though I have been drawing since I was about 6 years old or earlier. This highlights the idea that we don’t actually ‘see’ what we are looking at, until such time as we intentionally circumvent the < a href=”>visual shorthand that our minddevelops for us when we are quite young. Again

  1. read around – get comfortable – you can’t possibly retrain your eye to see overnight.
  2. Experiment when and how you can.
  3. Keep records so that it is easier to remember. And gradually you will begin to notice what goes on around.
  4. Be a scout on the trail of lighting adventures. The subtleness and gentleness of visual illusion will settle into your daily awareness’s and perceptions.
  5. Pleeeeeese – don’t make the drawing and capturing of these experiences a chore. One minute max – should be the catch cry!


Lesson 5: Transparency, Reflections, Shadows and the Art Of Illusion.

Drawing Exercises.


By now I suspect that you are pretty self-directed? You would have a fair collection of images in your albums. There would already be effects that you would like to study.


Lesson 5: Transparency, Reflections, Shadows and the Art Of Illusion.


Atmospheric Perspective.

Bridget Riley.

Capturing Light and Shadow.


How Light Works It’s Magic

Learn How to Plot Shadows

Light Source

Luminous and Non-Luminous Objects



More about light source.

Perspective and Proportion.

Refracted Light

“Shadows have vanishing points. They are constructed using guidelines. They are similar to normal perspective but they do not correspond directly to the vanishing points or horizon line. Shadows have their own vanishing points which are called light vanishing points or shadow vanishing points.” Art Studio Chalkboard.

‘The Sorceress and the Sea’ by Emmeline Foo Wen Li



Lesson 6: Abstract methods:

There will be some fun ideas like elongation, abstraction and comic creation. These will be incorporated into the sessions where appropriate.

What Is Abstraction?

Abstract painting and drawing are generally regarded as being non-representational. For the purposes of these drawing exercises – representation is okay, but would not usually be the focal point of, or the reason why the drawings are done.

Artists venture into the abstract for a variety of reasons. Much of the time (but not always) they are looking to create affect. They are wishing to talk to the emotions or to be emotive. Abstraction in this sense can swing between two extremes. It can be a subtle attempt on the part of the artist to dialogue with others on an emotional or spiritual level …or… on the other hand… it can be an attempt to manipulate emotions and to contrive to produce an artificial emotional response which bears little connection with reality. (The later is a complex topic and I won’t even begin to venture into that area of artistic endeavour here.)

Much of the time the abstract artist is wittingly or unwittingly appealing to the ideal. So he/she will be examining notions such as beauty, purity, honesty, truth, justice and others. This is not done by presenting a specific example of the idea such as an image of a beautiful woman representing BEAUTY. Rather it would be a refined presentation of the elements that make up beauty presented in a harmonious way. For example the artist trying to communicate about harmony may present a harmonious colour combination with no subject matter and no images present. This is pure composition.

Abstract art can be contrived scientifically. The elements of design can be manipulated mathematically and scientifically to create optical effects. Colour theory can also be contrived to artificially influence emotions. Line and shape can also be manipulated in this way. These elements of design can be combined to form persuasive representations/non-representations for different reasons.

Optical Art for example seeks to lie to the viewer (with the viewers collusion.) Example. These kinds of illusions are regarded as tricks that had been staged just for fun. They are done much in the way that the conjurer magician stages a performance to keep us amused over the Christmas Holidays. Sometimes these tricks serve a scientific purpose, but usually they are harmless manipulations meant to entertain. The lesson learned of course can be applied in all artistic endeavours they can be pursued as a means to an end or the end in itself.

Trompe L’oeil techniques are scientifically formulated methods of achieving illusion that are meant to trick the eye. However unlike the Optical Illusion movement there are other reasons underlying the choice of adopting this technique. Often the Trompe l’oeil Mural is intended to create an atmosphere and can often be used to create spiritual spaces. Read Absolutely Feng Shui



Read- Trompe-l’oeil – To Deceive the Eye. “In French Trompe-l’oeil means to deceive the eye. It is a technique used in painting that is intended to deceive the spectator into thinking that the object perceived is real and exists in three dimension rather than being a two dimensional representation of it. (1) The intention is often to create humour and curiosity. People like to become involved in public art. The audience enjoys being tricked.

Speaking of the spirit. Abstract art is often pursued for spiritual reasons. It can often be part of a meditative undertaking and may be combined with other stimulus such as music and Haiku so that the artwork is gently used as a gateway to the soul. Colour Therapy – Mandalas.

And so another aspect of abstract painting is that it can be likened to music. Some say (source of quote unknown) that abstraction is to painting as music is to poetry. It is therefore one means of contacting and revealing sub-conscious processes and journaling these processes can be an enlightening process to say the least.

Abstract Art can be formulaic and approached in a fun manner. The artist or their tutor can decide on a recipe before the abstract exercises begin. This method of reaching into the unknown is merely a beginner’s tool or a strengthening and warming up exercise. It is not meant to be a technique that an artist would use forever. However these kinds of exercises can be fun and you will find many of them in the drawing exercises section. They are very good tools to help us strengthen and inform our sense of design.

Abstract can also be seen as a way of summarising visual and sensory experience. Almost like shorthand it can be a means of quick expression and the simplicity can become very Zen like in its form and appearance. Read Drawing Notebook by N. F. Karlins.

At times we may be concentrating on just one effect. If the effect we are after causes our art to become distorted and exaggerated then our art may for a while become very comic book like. That is okay. When drawing it is often enlightening to focus on one aspect of the subject matter and to draw that aspect at the expense of any other. This can help you create a style of your own and perhaps help you to tap into aspects of your personality of which you had not previously been aware.


Lesson 6: Abstract methods:

Emotion, Expression and Messages In Art.

Art can facilitate two processes of the human mind. Honesty or dishonesty. It can reveal or cloud over. It can produce clarity or confusion. For an explanation of this statement read Longer Term Drawings Are Much More Planned”.

  • Many artists learn to do abstract art before they progress to a more formal art education. This is true particularly in schools where the children are taught ‘what the perhaps untrained teacher is able to manage.’
  • I tend not to have an opinion about this because some people seem to be able arrive at their chosen destination in this manner. It could never have worked for me – because I always want to be able to work from the known and understood.
  • It might be sensible to think that a well-rounded, balanced artist would dabble in all types and styles of art – at least initially.
  • Sometimes I wonder whether a really balanced person would specialise in one aspect of art at all? I know that I have had to. This has been mainly because I needed to have a professional focus. If I lived in a shack over looking the waters of Stradbroke Island -who knows – I might keep on experimenting, inventing and reinventing for the rest of my life. But financially that has never been possible.
  • So the point I am making is that during the learning process some artists come from the abstract and work towards the realistic. Others start from a burning desire to capture what they see. They operate as I hope to do – almost like an experiential, emotive camera that can think and make selective choices. And they begin to move into a more purist, idealistic, simplified genre once the initial academic learning has been consolidated.
  • Most of do not have the time and the resources to be able to have it all.


Lesson 6: Abstract methods:

Drawing Exercises. Playing With Abstraction.


If Abstract Art Is Approached From An Experimental Point of View It Can Be Like Inventing A New Cake Recipe.

I suppose that when people invent recipes they decide that they want the cake to “be like this” or “that” …sweet, or…creamy, etc. That is a bit the way an abstract exercise takes form. I want the picture to say this!! Evoke these emotions ??or remind me of****. Like the cake, the end product will be a surprise because at any time the author can take a flight of fancy.

For the sake of these exercises I am going to

    • Give you structure to follow.
    • Suggestions to help you begin the journey
    • and then I am going to ask you take off on your own flight.
    • Don’t forget to check in though.

Post the results in the discussion area so that we can all discuss the out come,

  • make suggestions and reboard the plane when it is time for another adventure.
      1. Draw an abstract composition that expresses the joy of a Festive Season. Capture the feeling, excitement and essence of this time of year without using any symbolic representations at all.
      2. Draw sadness. Draw any other emotions you can think of but do not use words or symbols. Be restricted to lines, colour, textures and shapes. Collage is okay.
      3. This is a hard one! Draw nothingness!
      4. Okay. Lets reverse the process. Draw sadness but restrict your colours to red and white. For this exercise you may use any representational matter you like. The only restriction is that you use red and white.
      5. Sometimes the abstraction works like a summary. In this exercise summarise an apple. I am not going to say draw the perfect apple. No – rather draw the “typical” apple.
      6. Draw shapes in black and white and bunch them into one corner of the ‘defined working space’
      7. Draw shapes in red and white and scatter them evenly across the ‘defined working space’.
      8. Draw shapes and create a trail of them across the ‘defined working space’ – don’t under any circumstances ‘spill’ and shapes into the rest of the working space.
      9. Create a trail across the defined working space but this time allow none of the shapes to be on the trail it must remain blank whilst eh rest of the defined space may have shapes scattered either evenly or in concentrated fashions.

Push these exercises as far as you can get them to go. Write copious notes in your journal as you do this noting what made you frustrated as you went along. When you have created the works from these exercises as you have been asked go back and do them how you would have liked to do them. Note the differences. Note how this exercise has made you feel. Note whether you have changed the meaning of the exercise. If you have time reflect upon why you may have wanted to change it to be that way.

Sometimes abstraction is about

      1. characterisation
      2. intensification.
      3. dissipation


      1. I usually like to do my experimenting on the computer. This is a

        • great,
        • quick
        • not messy way
        • to work out what will work and not work.
        • Once finished I paint the final painting.

Once the ingredients have been decided the execution of the final painting is easy and much more cost effective. Save time and money. I picked up on one suggestion by Carol Wallace of

Virtual Gardening

      • when she was writing a post in the very inspiring topic

Digital Photography and Editing

      • discussion thread

“Dan – what you say here about black and white revealing what color can often conceal is exactly why I like to convert garden photos to black and white. Color often masks or makes design flaws difficult to spot. Look at the real garden and you know something is wrong and yet you can’t pinpoint it. Take a photo and you have the same problem – because if the colors work you still have something pleasing. But convert it to black and white and the problems with form and texture suddenly become apparent. Then I can go to the real garden and solve the problem – and take a better picture of the better garden when I am done. “

      • I think that this applies to all visual, creative endeavour. One advantage of doing a lot of artistic preparation on the computer first in photoshop or a similar package is that we can quickly convert the image to black and white, and check it out for inconsistencies of perspective and shading. Again I stress that colour adds another dimension of complication that is not user friendly when we first get started.

Lesson 6: Abstract methods:


I guess the idea is to go to Google and pop in the words abstract paintings. There is no limit to the number of unique painters and artists who will pop up. You will find that most artist’s statments read like this.

Joan Palin“It was my love of nature, mountains and stormy skies, which lead me to painting. Like many before me, I wanted to capture the emotions they evoked within me. At that time, I thought representational painting was the way to do this. Then I was introduced to abstract painting. It made the connection I needed. “

There is one site on the internet that is excellent for beginning artists.

Art Smart: Learn About Art Designed for those who missed art appreciation classes in school or those who just want a refresher course, ArtSmart provides all the basics.

This is because the site is targeted at a niche market of art buyers and the site host has taken the time to educate the buyers about art so that they find buying art a pleasure. (I am not an is just that I can see when a job has been really cleverly devised.) It is good for the beginning artist because it presume no prior knowledge and talks in a user friendly jargonless manner. You will find that I referr to this site frequently from now on.For the section on Abtsract Art I have selected these resources from their extensive art appreciation section :

  1. Rational & Emotional.

    “Art with classical or rational tendencies continues to be very popular because it brings to our busy lives a sense of balance and harmony.”

    I just love this style of explanation.

  2. Representational & Abstract.

    “We go about our lives with the unspoken assumption that our experience of the visual world — the color of the sky, the shape of a tree — is pretty much the same as everyone else’s.”

    Again spot on!

  3. Impressionist & expressionist.

    “Most masterpieces have the power to evoke a broad range of reactions, and have kept art historians guessing for centuries. Artists often communicate things they did not originally contemplate, so their artworks take on a life of their own separate from what the artist may have intended. This is where you come in as an informed viewer: the associations you make with a work of art may uncover a whole new layer of meaning.”

    Beautifulllly said!I hope that this has given you a taste for reading about styles of art and that you have become more aware of the layers of complextities that imbue artwork with a variety of levels of meaning.Here’s The List Again In Alphabetical Order:

    Absolutely Feng Shui

    Art Smart:

    Colour Therapy – Mandalas.

    Digital Photography and Editing discussion thread

    Drawing Notebook by N. F. Karlins. (Zen.)

    Impressionist & Expressionist.

    Longer Term Drawings Are Much More Planned.

    Optical Art for example seeks to lie to the viewer (with the viewers collusion.) Example

    Joan Palin

    Representational & Abstract.

    Rational & Emotional.

    Trompe-l’oeil – To Deceive the Eye

    Virtual Gardening


Lesson 7: Gestalt – Something More Than The Sum of the Parts

Now that we have learnt about the elements of design separately, it is time to experience these elements working in combination. Used simultaneously, quickly and intuitively the elements come together to create a whole different feeling than they would if used alone. Before you attempt this lesson I would like you to read. The Some of The Bits. This essay reads similarly to an artistic statement. Many artist’s have an artistic statement that is placed in a prominent place at exhibitions and they are often used as the backbone for Bio Lines etc. This essay outlines why I run my artistic practice the way I do and how I approach the teaching of art.

Quick Intuitive Drawings Will Surprise You

As you increase

  1. your ability to see
  2. your ability to capture what you see
  3. and your understanding of how emotions are evoked by elements such as colour,line, tone, form etc.

You will suddenly be surprised at the changes that spontaneously occur in your drawing style. You will notice this :

  1. You draw very quickly
  2. You don’t deliberate so long when you begin a drawing
  3. You will be surprised by what you draw and it may not neccessarily be what you set out to draw.
  4. You may for at times experience a lack of consciousness of the process.
  5. You will begin to experience a kind of peace when drawing that you may not be used to. It is similar to the peace and contentment of meditating and of certain types of acupuncture such as Auricular Acupuncture.
  6. You will find themes resurfacing, time and time again. They may be surprising.
  7. You may find out about aspects of your personality that you were hitherto unaware of.
  8. It will be interesting in the discussion area to see whether there are other changes you notice and wish to explore and share.

Take particular heed of suggestions made by Angela Booth. Training Your Creative Self. Always be aware that it will take maybe 10 mins of intuitive gesture drawing or other warm up exercises before you enter the creative state necessary for you to meet and commune with your muse. I would hope that the serious student would set aside an hour a day for drawing. However never think that just fitting in time for creativity wherever you can is not good enough… because…. It will come! Once you begin to experience the peace that can be attained from a soft, nurturing, gentle discipline – you will naturally gravitate toward a practice and process that takes you to a more conducive resting place. Put your intentions “Out to the Universe” and the Time Will Come!


Lesson 7: Gestalt – Something More Than The Sum of the Parts

Longer Term Drawings Are Much More Planned.

So basically drawing is an end product, a process oriented tool and a bi-product. If you look at the lives and the biographies of many of the most treasured artists (particularly of the 20th Century) you will find that drawings are often the most cherished remains contained in the artist’s portfolio. (Particularly preparatory drawings.)

You will also often find another seed of surprise contained in the history of art. Artist’s drawings usually form a journalistic record of their work and their life. Their work often makes sense in retrospect and not necessarily at the time of execution. Artists are often thought to be ‘mad’ while they are alive. Or perhaps excentric. Or some other similar convenient label is often placed upon creative individuals. This is not surprising.

    1. If the human race places an enormous value on learning short cuts, on suppressing information and on actually forgetting how to see.
    2. If the human race values conformity rather than individuality.
    3. If there are rare individuals who pop up (and continue to pop up) claiming to see things that others simply cannot see

  1. then there is a good chance of some sort of societal labelling occurring. (Even if the label is only one of “silly darn nuisance.”)


Upon reflection the madness of Vincent Van Gogh didn’t seem quite so mad. Did it?

“Now I understand what you tried to say to me How you suffered for your sanity and how you tried to set them free They would not listen, they did not know how Perhaps they’ll listen now.”

And the lunacy of Gaugan seemed quite lucid and sane. In retrospect – I suspect?. Read …”the latest book on gene-based darwinism, where he explains the … The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins. … A fictional biography based on the life of Paul Gaugan… … ” and you will find that what seems like lunatic behaviour on the part of artist is often quite coherent from within the framework of the context of their life. This personal history is created from within the construct of the life of an individual who is training him or herself to ‘see’ in a world that discourages this process.


Salvidor Dali …that is a different story. He intentionally flirted with insanity.

“I believe that the moment is near when, by a procedure of active paranoic thought, it will be possible to systematize confusion and contribute to the total discrediting of the world of reality.”

And the insanity of his paintings is quite beautiful too. I believe. But nonetheless he has flirted with the world of unreality. I believe that aiming to disconnect completely from the structures that keep this world safe… dangerous, even if it is for brief moments. And I therefore do not advocate it by any means.

And this brings the dialectic to the crux of the matter.

When we set out to be creative we are making choices.

We choose

  1. our subject matter
  2. the medium we use
  3. what evocative symbolism we use
  4. the environment within which we seek to explore
  5. our life style
  6. and the direction which our explorations are allowed to follow.

If you would like to read briefly about how my approach to creativity developed read…

  1. Courage To Change The Things I Can.
  2. An Artistic Approach To recovery
  3. Sunshine After Rain.

I have chosen therefore to direct my life along the path of recovery by consciously directing my explorations, my subject matter and my lifestyle. (And that is the only point that I am making; that we are perfectly capable of directing where art takes us.

If this begins to sound confusing think of it this way.

  1. To develop drawing skills the artist must look at the seperate elements of design individually.
  2. He or she will intentionally develop his or her drawing ability along chosen lines.
  3. As the ability to see and to manipulate media and to capture impressions develops – a style and a natural happenstance will develop also.
  4. Once this ability has been sufficiently nurtured the artist can direct the power of creative exploration along any chosen line.

This year for example I have chosen to withdraw into my studio and explore a sea theme.

This will have healing potential for many reasons. The most powerful of which is that I grew up beside the sea, and have retreated to the sea when ever seeking comfort. The theme has been deliberately chosen to take me naturally in the direction I wish to go (spiritual/recovery) and it should I hope take me there with lil’ effort on my part. The effort is in the arrangement of the environment and the choice of learning experiences. The lifestyle (coastal living) and the company I choose to keep also effect the art work that will come from this experience. The outcome of the experiment – will be anybodies guess. But the likelihood is that it will be healing in nature.


What I hope you have heard me saying through this short lesson is that intuitive drawings are quick, spontaneous and inspirational in nature. They are explorative and are often accompanied by delighted surprise!

Longer term works though are guided by the artists principles. They are guided by long term goals and aims. And yes dare I say it – they are guided by who the artist wants to become. If as artists we choose to follow the healing path that creative endeavour affords us – then we can move closer to the light and actualise a potential for full and vital living that resides in all of us. Perhaps this style of learning and becoming is not so easily accessible by any other method.


Lesson 7: Gestalt – Something More Than The Sum of the Parts

Exercise in Digitisation.


Pssst. This is an extension exercise. It is very, very optional.

Drawing is both a Fine Art Form and the tool used to create other art forms. And so drawing is used by sculptors, painters, digital artists, architects and the like. Think of it this way. We take our native language for granted. When we talk in conversation we don’t normally think of it as engaging in any form of high art. However once language moves into the realm of poetry, oration and the like, the language itself becomes the artform. It is thus so …with drawing. I will focus on digitisation in this exercise…but the process remains the same for any artistic medium the drawing is the backbone and the reference point in the planning and execution of whatever medium you choose to explore.

Please visit…Digital Photography and Editing….

“there are articles here suggesting the unlimited possibilities offered with Photoshop and other photo editing applications. Plus, I’ll include tips and exercises to help you explore the unique qualities of digital cameras. Best of all, we have a forum to share opinions, ideas and techniques, where we can help each other to better enjoy our digital cameras, and further explore our creative energies.”

This exercise in digitisation is a suggested example. Come up with a design that suits you…and meet us in the discussion area.

    1. Draw a feather.
    2. Concentrate on delicacy of line to the best of your ability.
    3. When you have done this scan the feather into the computer.
    4. Lighten the print in the brightness/contrast mechanism and print out.
    5. Draw over a very light version of the feather, paying particular dark areas. This should enable you to draw very subtle, undulating areas and allow you to come to a peak of gloss colour and satin points.
    6. Bleach this drawing.

Don’t mask out the background keep the same bleached effect.

  1. Overlay several images.
  2. Play within the defined space arranging spatiality in a geometrical manner.
  3. Once this has been done to your satisfaction enlarge the canvas size and change the boarder to suite your fancy.

Example of Finished Piece Called Serenity Below.

I have chosen to create these colour overlays in green. Green is the colour of peace and for me therefore the colour of love. (See Drawing Is an Act of Love) You may add words that reflect this experience or your thoughts of love for the person to whom you dedicate your card. Add music through the Webshots Mechanism.

Please post your images when completed.


Lesson 7: Gestalt – Something More Than The Sum of the Parts


An Artistic Approach To Recovery

Courage To Change The Things I Can.

Salvidor Dali

Sunshine After Rain.

The Next Monet.

The Some of The Bits

Training Your Creative Self.

‘Tree Frog & Lacewing Fairy’ by Emmeline Foo Wen Li

‘The Sorceress and the Sea’ by Emmeline Foo Wen Li

The Some of The Bits

Vincent Van Gogh Starry Night.


Lesson 8: Collage Creation.

In this last lesson we will create a collage from the artwork we have created along the way. Don’t make the exercise into a chore. Have fun and see just how creative you can be!



A work created by affixing various materials (paper, wood, newspaper, cloth) to a picture surface.

This is an opportunity to create a collage from the artwork we have created along the way.

  • Remembering all you have learnt about Gestalt.
  • Make selections from your visual journal.
  • Choose the drawings you like the best and that seem to make up a general theme.
  • Place them on a large sheet of paper and play with the arrangement.
  • You can cut or tear the drawings or use them just as they are.
  • If you would like to create depth in your arrangement you can overlap the images placing the larger ones to the front of the picture plane and the smaller ones back into the distance.
  • Or…at this stage you make like to distort and abstract.
  • Play with the images and see what you come up with.
  • By overlapping you will be able to position each element of the picture so that the images are arranged according to relevant size
  • By building the artwork up into layers you will be creating a much more sturdy and stable thick effect.
  • Once framed it will be very bold and intense or subtle if you have gone for the washed effect.
  • Don’t make this exercise too complicated.
  • Play with the images, glue them down and then come over to the discussion area.


Lesson 8: Collage Creation.

Cropping, Arranging and Framing.

This exercise affords us the opportunity to talk about arrangement of artwork. Throughout the course I have been talking about defining you working space. Now comes time when this habit of thinking about the positive and negative aspects of the space defined your drawing comes into play. When you push and pull the images around the page you will be thinking about placement. Placement is influenced by these factors…

  • 1.Empty Space. Sometimes leaving parts of a design empty is called… Creating a Rest Area. If we don’t create places in our drawings where the eye can rest it may become too ‘busy.’ Often the viewer will be compelled to look away. And that is certainly not what we want!
  • 2.Cropping. Cropping can be likened to tidying up. Get rid of messy edges. (Or accentuate them if you want to keep them.) See whether some areas are just extra at the edges and need to be trimmed. I tend to be severe when cropping both the images I am tidying to fit into a collage and then the entire collage when it is ready for framing. If you have cropped severely you can always balance the design when placing a mat around the design before framing.
  • 3.Colour Contrasting Between Subject and Frame. This is a great way to make your artwork dynamic or to imbue meaning into the design by playing on softness and subtlety. For example you can make your work enigmatic! If you wanted to increase the subtlety mat the work with a similar colour or a colour from the original colour combination. If you wish to enhance dynamism go for a contrast or a colour that will make the colour scheme even more complex.
  • 4.Meaning Imbued by Space and Complexity. By this I mean you can increase the complexity of collage by increasing your tendency to overlap and by really putting effort into issues of placement…such as bunching up at corners, or creating trails within your picture plane. This aspect of design is mentioned in the lesson on Abstraction.
  • 5.Multiple Edgings. This situation arises when the artist becomes as involved in borders, frames and edges as he/she is with the artwork itself. This kind of preoccupation is about spatial design. Spatial design is the subject for an entire course! So I guess you might at this stage just be aware that edges, borders and frames can really make your work dynamic! Remember the point I keep making … pays occasionally to become preoccupied with an aspect of design before returning to the real task at hand….
  • 6.Bleeding It To The Edge. This is a bit of an old slang saying. It means that we often tend to be shy and precious with our work. Bleeding it to the edge means stretching it out to the edges and not being apologetic about placement or size.
  • 7.Distortion. An abstract concept. Don’t forget that in the making of collage it is perfectly okay to use any means of creating the image you find challenging. So…if you have a scanner and you would like to create distorted dynamos the way Dali did? Distort your drawing in an image editor and then stick it down.

As you create your collage be conscious of these elements. The effects you create will surprise you. I would like to talk about the effects you have achieved over in the ………Discussion area?


Lesson 8: Collage Creation.

Presenting Your Work

This section of the course is presented as an extension exercise. I mean this literally. The frame is intended to be an extension of the drawing fixed within and the subject matter is allowed to flow into the frame and vice versa. For example if you have completed a beautiful picture of lily pads on a lily pond, perhaps you could create a frog perched on the edge of your frame ready to jump into the picture and onto a lily pad? It is a very simple idea.

    • Cut a sheet of paper or cardboard much bigger than the size of the drawing you are desirous of framing.
    • Draw a border inside the sheet allowing for an over lap of at least one cm. (Pssst! Eventually you will cut the centre of the frame out. Pleeeeeze don’t do this yet as the centre will give the frame stability and make it easier to work with.)
    • Using oil pastel, blend colours around the entire surface of the frame – moving smoothly from one colour to another.

Play with edges within edges if you so desire. Use thick black lines inside these edges if you want a very balanced and dramatic effect

  • Using the inside of the frame (to save paper) draw the critters or objects you would like on your frame. If it is the frog..draw it, big and bold. Make sure you use a dark colour or a dark felt pen to create an effective outline and then cut out the critters neatly.
  • Before you glue them down (very securely) play with layout. Take your time. Let the positioning tell the story. Be sure of course that the frog actually looks like it is about to do what you want it too. Do you need to pull the frog back as though it back legs are spring loaded?
  • Once this frame has been completed, attache the drawing you are framing securely to the back with a liberal dose of masking tape.
  • Viola!!! Presoto??? Now you are ready to frame. ‘For real’ I mean. How much more cheaply can you frame your artwork now that the decorative and abstract aspects of presentation have been taken care of?
  • All you need to do is purchase
    1. a sheet of glass
    2. masonite backing
    3. and clips to hold the two together

    and your picture is framed in a very handsome manner. Put screws and wire on the back and hang. Very professional and very affordable.


Lesson 8: Collage Creation.

Extension of the Extension?

So you have just experienced the cost effective method of creating your own frame. Are there other ways to do this that can save you money but also add style and flair.

Here are some of my ideas. I hope you will add to them if you can think up innovative ideas to share with myself and the other students.

  • Cut the frame out of a slab of clay and add your decorative pieces such as leaves or flowers on to the frame. Glaze either seperately or together. Glazing them together saves fuss and bother. Fit a piece of glass into the back of the frame and away you go. You will find this cost effective but not as inexpensive as the last method.
  • Cut the frame from corflute or corrigated cardboard. Use these materials to give the frame a heavier more textured effect.
  • Create the frame out of the colour, texture and pattern of the subject matter. Examples
    1. zebra textured ceramic frame with drawing of a zebra inside.
    2. Zebra fabric glued to a masonite frame cut to size and then fitted wth glass. Again this could frame a drawing of a zebra or African jungle.
  • Make an eCard from your work on the webshots website. Examples. Amity
  • Make an animation from a series of your drawings. Example.
  • Make colouring pages for your kids! Colouring Pages. Community Support Pages.
  • Try making a frame out of furniture.
  • Make the frame art itself.

Post images of your frame and the final finished framed up piece in the discussion area. Please do so… we would be most interested to see it.


Lesson 8: Collage Creation.

Resources Arranged In Topic Headings



Art Terms.


  • Analogous, Complimentary, Triadic, Scattered, Monochromatic. Colour Scheme.
  •  A Complimentary Colour Scheme.
  • Creating A Colour Wheel.
  • Colour Therapy – Mandalas.



  • Digital Photography and Editing


  • A Diary of Learning Drawing Techniques By Gayle M. Bird
  • Blind Contour Drawing. Figure Drawing Lab. Ralph Larmann at the University of Evansville.
  • building up the back ground.
  • Contour Drawing. Figure Drawing Lab. Ralph Larmann at the University of Evansville.
  • crosshatching
  • Drawing Line and Shape.
  • hatching
  • Draw What You See
  • Learn To
    1. Drawing People
    2. Drawing Basics
    3. Drawing Caricature

    Kirk Bjorndahl. (Some sections of the site require a payment of $14.95 for a 5 year period.)

  • Shading Kirk Bjorndahl
  • Using and Drawing Space.


  • Effects examined by Artists
    • Luminosity was examined by Turner.
    • Atmospheric effects were examined by Monet.
    • Perspective and mathematical illusion were examined by Escher.
    • Optical Illusion became the focus of Bridget Riley.
  • Trompe-l’oeil – To Deceive the Eye




    • The Some of The Bits  .Jo Murphy. Glossary of Art Terms.


      • Chiaroscuro
      • How Light Works It’s Magic. by J.L.Hagan.
      • Refracted Light
      • Shadows have vanishing points.  Art Studio Chalkboard.
      • Learn How to Plot Shadows. L.J.Hagan.
      • Luminous and Non-Luminous Objects Digital Brain. Science Lessons.
      • Tips and Information Discussing Chirascuro
      • Light Source
      • More about light source.
      • ‘The Sorceress and the Sea’ by Emmeline Foo Wen Li.  Elfwood. Lysator.

      Linear Perspective.

      • Atmospheric Perspective.

      Optical Illusion.


  • Medieval Castles – A Project.

Projection Techniques


  • Shadows have vanishing points.  Art Studio Chalkboard.
  • Learn How to Plot Shadows L.J.Hagan.


  • Spatial Issues.Jo Murphy. Negative Space. Positive Space. Working Area.


  • The Tao
  • Absolutely Feng Shui


  • The Tao


  • TL   Currently is in library 857 textures (80 NEW) in 15 categories. (last update JAN 1 2000) Not ALL textures at this library are free.

Ultra – Creativity.

Visual Journal.

  • 14 Reasons Why Artists keep Visual Journals.

Leave a comment