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Beginner Drawing Lessons, part I

Welcome to my Beginner Drawing Lessons, written with kids in mind, but perfect for adults, too. This series is the result of many sketching sessions with my girls, during which I realized there are a few recurring concepts that I am always reminding them of. For these lessons, I have reduced lots of information into three basic ideas that can be utilized when drawing:

  • Line
  • Value
  • Color

There are the shapes and how they relate to each other (line), there is light and shadow (value), and there is color, with its many variations.
Those three things are basic concepts that, once understood, will help you or your child have a better grasp of your subject matter. This information can also be applied to painting, sculpting, digital art, and so much more. Each of the three lessons include an exercise at the end of it, so you can practice your new skill. I would recommend this series for children 6 and up.

The first lesson of this three-part series is Line.

Line is the shape of objects, the actual outline, and how shapes relate to each other. For example, in our still life of a group of tomatoes, we noticed how each tomato looks different—some had more lumps, some were more round, some oval in shape. Then we looked at how the tomatoes were arranged. We saw how some were in front of others, and that some were partially hidden. Look at where these objects overlap, as well as the negative space. Sometimes, when an object proves tricky to draw, observing the shape of the space between the objects can be helpful.
Encourage the kids to look at the true shape of things, meaning not what their brain says they should see but, rather, what they are actually seeing. Our minds register “tomato” as bulbous and round in shape, but their shapes can be quite varied. Point out irregularities in objects, and encourage your kids to include those. We (and especially kids) tend to want to draw the “idea” of a certain object, rather than what we are really seeing. A college art teacher of mine used to always say, “draw with your eyes, not with your brain.”

Line exercise: Set up a still life made with a few simple shapes. Fruit, balls, bowls, and vases (skip the flowers this time) are good choices for this first exercise. Avoid objects that have a lot of detail on them, as the kids will be tempted to render all that detail first thing.

  • See if you can get your kids to just observe the still life for a few minutes before starting
  • Talk about the outlines, the shape of the negative space, the places where objects overlap each other, and how that effects their shapes
  • Ask them to point out irregularities in the shapes
  • have them trace the objects with their finger
  • When they begin to draw, remind them to draw what they see, not what their brain tells them a shape should look like

Have fun! See you back here soon with the next lesson: value.

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