If you look up the word Negative in the thesaurus, you will find words like
gloomy, bleak, pessimistic. However if you apply it to a drawing exercise it’s actually very positive.
My art teacher at school was a wonderful quirky man. He was able to explain the basics of drawing to me simply and clearly. One lesson I was drawing my outstretched hand and was ending up with strange, alien sausage like fingers that would have looked more cartoony if they weren’t so hideous. He instructed me to to ignore the actual hand and look for the negative shapes in between the fingers instead. He also explained how to relate a point on the hand to another point either to the background or on the hand. (Of course the hand needed to be kept still or these elements would all change)
His constant instruction was to ‘LOOK LOOK LOOK!’ He used to say; ‘it’s 90% looking and 10% mark making’. Slowly and carefully building up the shapes and points in relation to one another the hand materialised. Like any exercise this needs to be praticed regularly and with effort. But the rewards are immense.
Thank you Sir – I’ve never forgotten your lessons.
Another wonderful teacher is Betty Edwards. Her book ‘Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain’ is full of fantastic tips and exercises. If you think you will only ever be able to draw a stick man, think again and try a few of her lessons.