Planning Your Composition

The charm of drawing is that, like handwriting, everyone has his or her own different style that has developed with observation, concentration, and practice. However, with drawing, il is important nol to be fixed or rigid.

1 Varying the medium can make a difference. as can the speed at which you execute a drawing. With every drawing, spend a minute beforehand to decide whether you need a sludious, highly detailed drawing or a swift set of visual notes for future reference. Sometimes Richard Bolton prefers to produce a tightly controlled, highly complex drawing. At other times, when he wants to be more expressive, he dashes down bold lines, using the side ol the pencil and digging in the tip to create vivid linework. The most common drawing fault is an overtight line, which comes from the belief that everything should be stated in total on the paper. As an exercise, practice drawing in values alone, so that you suggest edges by changing light and value, rather than with line only (the value exercise suggestions on page 12 are a good place to start). If your drawing or painting suffers from tightening-up, the best remedy is to allocate yourself only a short time to work. That way you don't have time to overwork certain passages with excessive detail, and you're forced to make quick decisions.

If you find drawing a struggle, choose a subject that does not really need accurate technical draftsmanship. Remember that it is much easier to use a modicum of drawing and then depend on your skill and dexterity with watercolor to create tex tures that give character to a painting. Richard Bolton feels that it is the careful application of paint that creates the illusion of precision engineering on the objects in his paintings. If you draw an engine, for example, rather than paint it, you'll produce a technically accurate rendering, but it will be stiff and lack your interpretation. In his own work, this artist feels that it's often color and texture that make a good painting, not the drawing.

But in the experience of Richard Bolton, and other artists, drawing is an integral part of the thinking process of watercolor painting. Without it, paintings sometimes lack structure and shape, and can suffer from a lack of definite composition. So take the time to draw before you paint—you will never regret it!

Composition About Drawing And PaintingPencil Rendering Grasses


The artist found this old grass rake submerged in a tangle of dead grasses and weeds behind an old barn. The heavy steel wheel and seat had been there for some time, and their shapes and well-rusted surfaces seemed to be a great potential painting subject.

He made the drawing with Conte pencil and used very few mid-gray values. He relied on a stark contrast of black and white to emphasize the smooth, round, symmetrical man-made shapes against the ragged, random natural forms.

He juggled the composition of the shapes and left out many foreground details to make the preliminary design for a future painting. He toyed with the negative shapes ot the foliage in the foreground, and looked for a pattern of values that would offset the manmade seat and wheel above.

Since the artist hall-buried the rake in the long grass, this drawing demanded only a little technical drafting skill. It is quite easy to render seemingly awkward shapes in this way, without having to be highly proficient at technical drawing.

Pencil Drawing Beginners Guide

Pencil Drawing Beginners Guide

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