Drawing Simply

Image: Progress shots from my example drawing, DNY workshop. Graphite & charcoal on paper.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”Leonardo da Vinci

How great is this da Vinci quote?

There are different approaches to drawing, but the way I start a portrait (figure, still life or landscape) is that I keep it really simple! So simple in fact that often it almost doesn’t resemble anything, just blocky shapes. Squinting helps me do this. I draw the large masses and refuse the temptation of trying to impress myself or anyone else with details.

Throwing in details at the beginning can trick the eye into thinking you’re capturing your subject, but you do so at the expense of overall accuracy. Personally, I think it’s more fun to keep everything loose at first and “tightening up” as I go. It’s like magic, watching a face slowly emerging from the mist.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”           Mark Twain

…AND the secret of getting “a head” with portraiture is getting started. Sorry, I couldn’t resist that pun.

Now I want to hear from you. How do you like to start your drawings? And speaking of da Vinci, let me know: Are you a Leonardo lover?

Kelly Foss

Artist - Teacher - Author

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