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Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Drawing from the Outside In

Urban sketchers learn — quickly or eventually — that drawing from observation goes better if the artist works big to small. Place the general shapes of the buildings (or construction equipment) before you start work on the window trim. Figure out relative proportions before drawing in the little pebbles on the road. (Do you even need the pebbles?)

It's funny that we should have to learn the big-to-small lesson at all, but I think this is because as children we liked drawing detail. Of course, as children we were less hard on ourselves if our drawing didn't replicate the object.

But it does make things easier. And unlike many lessons, the drawing big-to-small lesson goes down just as easily if someone simply TELLS you to do it this way as if you learn it by accident.

So look: If you're interested in observational sketching, and you're hoping to more or less replicate what you see, start by placing the biggest shapes, then gradually go small. (Incidentally, working from the outside in has metaphoric value as well, but you can just sit and think on that one yourselves. All I'm saying is that there are usually life lessons in art lessons.)

Of course, if you don't care about replicating nature, but simply want to put down an impressionist rendering of what's before you, I say: Yes. Do it.


honey said...

i love your new dog with word balloon.

i don't draw stuff, but i like the big-to-small idea! been working on that one my whole life!

Nin Andrews said...

Love your dog word balloon, too. You are brilliant.

And I wish I could draw in a replicating nature way.

To draw at all, though, what fun.