Keeping the fun in fundamentals.

Teaching yourself to make art is a lifelong endeavor. Books and courses will help but it’s up to you to keep the work interesting and relevant.

Look for creative ways to keep practicing the basics, like contour drawing, proportions, foreshortening, tone, shading, volume, etc.

Don’t make drills dull. Find ways to mix things up. Draw things that mean something to you.

Instead of setting up artificial subjects like bowls of fruit or vases of flowers, draw the contents of your fridge. Draw the roses you got for your birthday and write about how you feel getting a year older. Instead of drawing naked strangers in a life drawing class, draw your naked spouse, your cat, your boss. Rather than doing “Drapery studies,” draw the shapes your feet make under the covers on a Sunday morning.

Be inventive. Be fresh. Be personal. It’s an adventure, not a chore.

17 thoughts on “Keeping the fun in fundamentals.”

  1. Could be not so easy to draw the boss naked 😉 But you are truely right: It’s a journey and you have the choice which way you take, which ist the most pleasant for you. I am sure that the joy doing art (daily) is the best way to improve the skills.

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  2. I remember this phrase I heard or read so many years ago:
    “If it is to be, it is up to me”.
    My Lamy pen will not draw on its own without my hand moving it.

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  3. My “issues” wouldn’t allow me to let the fridge door stay open long enough to draw the contents and the structure and I’m sure I would have to stop to snack several times. Instead, I’ll try my garbage can waiting to be taken out, move on to the stack of folded clean clothes waiting to be put away, then end up drawing my feet resting on the recliner in front of my picture window. Sounds like a busy and productive day.

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  4. And I just finished setting up the props!!!!! Just kidding. Thanks for the encouragement. My monkey was not so happy to hear these things. It will make his/her job more difficult😈

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  5. Hop your illustration activities for your up and coming book went as you hoped. Glad you are back. The information in this post is not only timely for me but essential if I want to continue developing my “practice”, thank you Danny. I also found thesleepysould to be worth the time to check out.

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  6. Yes, draw what we love. I love trees. I really do, and I keep drawing the same one repeatedly. In fact, I just blogged about my favorite tree. When I look at your drawing, all I can think of is my mother yelling: “CLOSE the FRIDGE! There’s nothing growing in there!” 0.o Love this. Oh, did you know there is a law of the fridge? Law of the fridge: There’s always room for one more thing! Cheers!

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  7. Feeling a little panicked, what will I draw this semester? I sit in my car in the parking lot at the Glassell studio school (MFAH) on the first day of my drawing class. I am 58 years old and started drawing a year ago. It has been quite a journey in one year. Panicked I pulled out my phone and found your blog. Ok I can do this. Thanks for the help. If you want to check out my website and see how I am doing go to cindeeklement.com I appreciate any support and comments.

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  8. Danny: which of your books would best serve my elementary students? I do a 10 minute “warm up” with them, and they love to draw subject matter. Which ones of your books have no curse words or objections body parts in them (parents??) I think that they would really get into drawing day old toast.
    A n art teacher and new blog follower…

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