Why Artists Should Make Drawing a Daily Practice
About a century ago (well I exaggerate a little); I was a college student studying art at McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. I had a brilliant and successful art teacher named Steve, who demonstrated how the practice of art-making and the hatching of new ideas could be brought to life, using a sketchbook. He taught me many useful things, such as how to keep an art sketchbook pasted with photos of artwork by artists I admired, and how to write an artist statement that reflected my unique artistic voice. Above all, his most important advice was that I should draw every day. At the time, that task seemed quite difficult to stick with. I was always an impatient artist as a student and I often rushed through the drawing stage to hurry up and get to the painting. I learned later that that was a mistake. Now that many years have passed since my graduation from McDaniel, I can truly see the wisdom of his advice.
In hindsight, I realize that he was so right about drawing every day. Now, I no longer rush artwork and I have learned to love drawing, whether it becomes a painting or not. In fact, I have embraced his advice of a daily drawing habit at various times in my life, and I have worked on several art challenges for both human portraiture and pet portraits on my Instagram account. One of these challenges is called 100 faces in 100 days, in which I drew a pre-selected photo of a celebrity using only pencil and paper. I did not add in a lot of detail or shading and I limited myself to 45 minutes a day. The process of a drawing challenge gave me many opportunities for both successful drawing and ones that I didn’t like, but it helped me to see my progress, and that the practice bore much fruit in terms of learning to take the time to really observe my photo references and record my observations on paper. You could say drawing is akin to yoga or meditation because you need to be completely mindful in order to capture the nuances prevalent in realistic drawing.
At present, I am struggling to carve out time for drawing. Sandwiched in between working, and preparing an art portfolio for graduate school applications, and other responsibilities, I am striving to make time at least 1x a week to draw. This time, I am focusing on making mixed media pastel and torn paper collage drawings. These take several days to complete so I only post about 1x a week on my Instagram account. But this working process works well for me, as the breaks in the
action, give me additional time to evaluate the accuracy of my drawing proportions and the values in my shading. The most important take away I can say about drawing and getting good at it, is that it really helps your art practice to flourish. For instance, once you have the drawing and composition mastered, you can enjoy the next step more fully, whether its collage, painting or some other art form such as graphic design or sculpture. With an accurate drawing, you won’t have to worry about continuing to fix it and can fully embrace your next steps, and I am learning that it’s so much better to take the time and lay a good drawing as your foundation for your art.
A good case in point was my latest painting in progress, Money is the Bait, which started out unsatisfactorily because of several drawing errors in the initial portrait. I ended up starting from scratch in oils on a totally new surface, and it still isn’t finished. I hope to finish it by next week. Thanks for stopping by! If you want to follow my progress with the mixed media portraits, you can follow me on Instagram under my profile name, jsjschmidt.