How to Draw


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Down and Up

Our usual level of looking is in front of us. Generally we look ahead. When you start to draw outside, you will find that you will be looking down, on to the ground, and up, into the sky.Both the ground and the sky are important to an artist. They are part of the world he is looking at. It is important for him to look at them.

The ground is fairly static, though it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the change of tone or color on the ground as it recedes from us. It is a good thing to study the ground and find out what changes do take place.

The sky is another matter. It is always changing, full of life, full of color and movement. But it alters so quickly that it can be difficult to grasp. As with drawing figures, it is better just to look carefully at the sky and then paint it quickly from memory. It isn’t necessary to know the names of the different cloud formations to be able to paint skies successfully. It is better to look at clouds, enjoying their colors and forms, noting the changes and the way the sun affects their contours and shapes. And it is also good to switch your eyes quickly from the ground up to the sky and see how they balance one to the other.

The ground is firm. It should look firm and solid in your drawings, unlike the sky which should look light and spacious.


The land is fairly static. The only changes that occur are caused by the change of light which are easily seen. They move slowly and regularly. This is not so with water. Water can be fast or still, rippling or gently undulating. Water is fascinating to watch and paint. Everybody at some time will want to paint it. If the water is very still, you will be able to see the reflections clearly. The water will act like a mirror and, except for a darkening of tone, will repeat more or less, upside down, what is around it. When the water is moving it is not so easy. The best way to tackle water is to study small sections of it, using your memory to put down what you saw. Then refer back to the water again until you have built up some sort of image in your mind. Then paint it completely from memory.

Certain rhythms will occur time and time again. Certain formations will repeat themselves. The light will affect the waves in regular patterns. And it is in observing these regularities that you will be able to capture the fleeting image of water.

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