Locating Whats Good

In the drawing course I teach, during the first class, which covers the material you're working on now, I ask students to find and share something they like about a fellow beginner's work. My students always respond with enthusiasm. But when I ask them to share aloud what's good about their own artwork, they find it far more difficult to do so. Initially, most students only point to what they don't like about their work. They argue that they can't see anything good-a different argument from saying there isn't anything good to see. And inevitably, one beginner will admire the very qualities in the drawing of another student who feels unsure or negative about that same artwork.

Locating what's good is a practical skill. It means knowing what to look for and how to identify it in words. Saying it aloud isn't necessary when looking at one's own work; however, it's not a bad idea. Putting perceptions into words can give you more clarity when evaluating work.

Students frequently review their first drawings for evidence as to whether they deserve to be artists or not. Harsh self-assessment presents the greatest obstacle by far to the development of artistic potential. Sometimes I feel that beginners are hard on themselves as protection. If they preempt others by saying something harsh about their own work, they haven't left themselves open to hearing the imagined critical remark from someone else.

To help banish such unproductive, self-limiting criticism, we're going to expand the method of constructive evaluation we have used thus far. The following may look a bit like the kindergarten bulletin board, but remember, we were all artists back then.

Treat your artistic side politely, as you would a friend. Don't crush this new relationship with rudeness and cruelty. Would you want to keep company with someone who insults you* Limit any criticism to three specific points that need your attention. Find some small thing that you did right. This is a practical measure, not sentiment. It gives you a model to follow. Develop techniques. Once you know how to identify what works, what doesn 't, and how to fix problems, you willfear mistakes less and move ahead more rapidly. Make improvement yourfocus, not criticism.

Careful observation of contour and shape— from creases in leather to the movement of textured laces—give this boot the specific presence and character of a portrait, drawing by student deborah l. jantz-sell

Careful observation of contour and shape— from creases in leather to the movement of textured laces—give this boot the specific presence and character of a portrait, drawing by student deborah l. jantz-sell

"I always take breaks now, because I see with new eyes when I come back to my work. They can be short breaks or longer."

-student kim nightingale

Typical of this student's work, the objects she chooses to draw show her underlying attraction for shapes that have interwoven pathways, as in this pair of running shoes.

drawing by student kathy epstein

Typical of this student's work, the objects she chooses to draw show her underlying attraction for shapes that have interwoven pathways, as in this pair of running shoes.

drawing by student kathy epstein

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Learn to sketch by working through these quick, simple lessons. This Learn to Sketch course will help you learn to draw what you see and develop your skills.

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