The Art of Seeing: Drawing Techniques and Insights | Elisabeth Arena | Skillshare

The Art of Seeing: Drawing Techniques and Insights

Elisabeth Arena, Artist and Educator

The Art of Seeing: Drawing Techniques and Insights

Elisabeth Arena, Artist and Educator

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5 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. The Art of Seeing: Drawing Techniques and Insights

    • 2. The Devil is in The Details: Draw Your Hand

    • 3. Negative Outlook: Using Negative Shapes, Lines and Angles

    • 4. Get Out There: Inspired by Nature

    • 5. Everyday Inspiration

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About This Class

Get out your pencils and paper...

Follow along with tips and insights from a veteran "Draw-er" to get you on the way to making interpreting what you see with pencil and paper almost second nature. We will talk about observational drawing, using negative space and points of intersection, foreshortening and rendering texture. We'll go over possible subject matter to get you inspired to draw and make it a practice. I'll model my thought process for you through drawing hands, drawing from photos and how to create texture. Drawing is much like learning a new language and creating a bank of techniques to pull from whenever you interpret an image from reality (or your imagination) and commit it to paper.

Meet Your Teacher

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Elisabeth Arena

Artist and Educator


Hello. I'm Elisabeth, but you can call me Liz if you don't care for all those syllables. I've been an artist since childhood and formally trained in college. I got my BFA from Tufts and the Museum School in Boston, spent a few semesters studying in Florence (si, sono Italiana) and went on for a Master's degree with a Drawing specialty from Radford University. In my personal work, I use graphite, ink, marker, watercolor, acrylics and oils and digital media...but am always willing to experiment when I discover something new. You can see some more work on my fine art website:

I have been teaching for a number of years. Foundation and creative Drawing, Painting and Mixed Media are among my big subjects. I taught adults of varying sk... See full profile

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1. The Art of Seeing: Drawing Techniques and Insights: one of the best things about drying is that requires very little. She pencils, sketch new razor, that some kind of sharper what you really need IHS in terms. And that has to do with how you interpret what you see in the world. We have a lot of preconceptions that we carry around about what things were supposed to look like. We end up simplifying things to the point of distortion instead of actually observing, sometimes because we're in a rush and sometimes because we just can't quite grasp how something so familiar you can look so odd. Well, we actually sit down and study it. So when the scores were going to be addressing some of those issues we're going to be drawing on, hands were going to be using negative shapes, proportions, measurement tricks and tips on. I'll talk a lot about guidelines and getting what you see in reality onto paper. My best advice to anyone who is the early stages of drawing or getting back into it, or maybe just wanted to add it to what you already do as an artist is to do it often do it frequently, gathering herself a vocabulary that you can continue to draw some because drawing is very much like learning language. You have to learn how to interpret what you see in a physical world using a visual language on your paper, and that's a learned skill, that something that you certainly have to practice. And if you want to drop from your imagination, I would say it's best to conquer what you can see in the world first. Because once you understand that it frees your mind in order so that you can express yourself in ways that you weren't able to before. You will still need references like most of us and in many cases, but the more you do it faster, you're gonna get the faster connections you're gonna have and the more satisfying the process is gonna be, it'll be easier for you to get past the state of frustration and into a state of flow As you work on your pieces. I'm looking forward to seeing what we all come up with an R us 2. The Devil is in The Details: Draw Your Hand: one thing that beginning students often afraid doing is drawing hands. So that's one thing I want tackling this course hands are or something that you're constantly seeing. You look at them while they perform multitude actions throughout your day, but often to actually sit and observe our own hands. I think that's a really important thing to tackle early on, because once you get over that initial intimidation, it becomes a subject of endless fascination. You can draw hands gesturing, performing different activities on those gestures and activities. You can speak volumes. So we're gonna break down how to look at your hands and maybe some of the preconceptions we have about your hands and start talking about how we use some negatives, bases, angles, lines that you already have in your hands in different clues that will help you drive him a little bit better. Don't be afraid of hands. Hands over a wonderful, wonderful thing to drop. So let's go ahead and jump if you want to find a position that is interesting for you, but also, but you're gonna manage to hold for some time because you're gonna be here for a while, settling, uh, you can hold your hand in the direction. Are you aware that of course, you're gonna have some for shortening and that some objects are closer than others or some parts. Your fingers, I mean, so that you want to have a position that's not just a block, boring standard thing. You want to see your hand in a different way. So I'm gonna go for this kind of oppose here, and I want to relax my hand into this position. I don't want anything tensed. If any of these tents, eventually it's gonna shrill because I'm going to just rest those muscles. I can't hold strong position for that long. Find something like this that works for yourself and me. Any side, your hand like this. This whatever works for you, whatever you like. But make sure it's in a position that is totally relaxed and in a position that you can hold. We're gonna be looking at basic shapes, structure of your hand, that multiple joints. But your palm you've got large, distinctive shapes, and we're gonna be using some angles. We're gonna use negative space is gonna put all that together to one police of drawing. Okay, our primary focus at this point is get everything in the right place. We're not gonna worry about shading. We're just really gonna wearing out contour lines and getting what you want, where you draw your hands better. You're gonna get lots of angles, lots of different directions. If it is a strong poles like this, you can always take a photograph and see what you can get so that you can have different angles that you can look at. Don't be afraid of hands. Hands are wonderful. They're not distorted. You might think You just have to really get to know them. I want to start with something you can trust. And when I'm starting with is my thumb. It's the closest element of my hand to me. It has a very strong lines and angles. And when I determine how large I'm going to draw that that will determine how large will be drawing the rest of man. So you want to make sure that you're not working too small. Uh, if you do too small, then you'll find yourself struggling with measurements and interpreting what you see. If you're drawing too large, clearly you're not gonna fit everything where you wanted it. So I sketched them thumb and I first checked the angle from the thumb to my pointer finger so you can see that there's a little negative shape that happens in between those fingers. And I will do this thing with each finger. Which one has taller than the other? Where do they intersect? And one of those angles look like you can hold your pencil right up against your fingers to check that angle and then make sure that what you're drawing looks like what you've got in front of you. So break down those fingers into segments and use the lines that you already have on your hands to help you interpret what you see. So they're they're quite strong. What makes this pose a little tricky If you're looking at, um, you know the elements and you're thinking about the hand as you know it. It's got these three separate joints, but you can't really see every part of them if your hands curled up. So you have to think about for shortening and you have to draw those shapes for what they are. My fingertips don't look stretched out because they're not they're folded. And so you've got to draw those distinctive shapes, as you see that also use any negative spaces that you have in between your fingers. You've got to keep checking those and make sure that their matching what you're seeing. What I see based on my position is different from what you're seeing in this video. The smallest movements, even if you sort of slouch down when you're looking at something is going to change your perspective, just enough to throw things off. So you want to keep very still if you want to have an accurate look at everything you're doing. So when I'm doing now is with the I think this is a four or five B pencil. I went back in in essentially defining my darker darks with that pencil. Once I established the darkest darks I have is gonna be easier for me to determine where my late star in what kind of tones I need to have in between. I'm not focused on super heavy shading. I'm really just emphasizing those contours to give my drawing some life in the sense of weight and volume. When you do start shading, you want to make sure that you're going with the form of your drawing. What that means is, if you look at the curve of your hand or your arm, there's a certain shape it has. It follows a curve, so you want to go with it. If you don't go with it, you might add a placenta looks kind of flat or kind of messy, or that you have lines that are speaking in different language than what you actually have . If you look in my hand, clearly, it's quite dark in comparison to the white paper behind it. So you could spend quite a bit of time Larry Larry later ring and shading in order to get those wide range of tones that you have, but I'm not too concerned about that at this stage. I just want to get Ah, basic sense of some shading just to give the drawings of life so you can go ahead and do that. Or you could just focus on Contour. Especially. We're doing a lot of poses and you want to limit your time. You can just draw darker lines to get a sense of contour. What I would suggest you do is draw as many guidelines as you need to. Whether that's where things are intersecting re angles that you see you can draw 50 of them doesn't really matter. What matters is that you're doing what you need to do in order to interpret what is really in front of you. So keeping that in mind, you can always go back to that first thing you drew. So for me, it was my thumb. If you have to measure your fingers one at a time to see how many of them would fit into that thumb, you go ahead and do that. Still be worried about taking too much time to measure those things, because that's what's gonna give you inaccurate amount of information that you need in order to interpret those those elements. So also, one thing that kind of helps me get a sense of completion is just a basic shadows that I might have. If you think of it like this, you are taking something that's in reality in front of you as full color, and you have to learn how to speak the language of it in great owns or in black and white. So you have Teoh, allow yourself some patients to learn how to interpret that information. It's not something that is just gonna immediately be simple for you. Be patient with yourself because it is essentially like learning a new language. Especially it's something new for you. You have to learn those symbols. You have to learn what they sound like. If it's a language but an art, you're talking about the visual language, so you have to learn how to interpret what you see. The different pencils, different line strokes. How do you interpret different textures? How do you draw different types of wrinkles? How do you draw, you know, a fuzzy sweater that has a particular type of fiber? Those are all things that you need to learn how to do with a pencil and everything that you're might report you learning a new symbol or a different way of creating that. And you could just kind of add that to your collection of marks to make to interpret different things. So I really like to see what you've got going. Please upload any drawings that you create of your hands, and don't be afraid to take some photographs to. If you feel like you can't hold that pose. Just take a quick shot of it so that you can refer back to it later. If you're trying to do some shading or you just want to check yourself and recheck those angles, just make sure that you keep yourself in the same position when you take the photograph or when you're sitting and drawing that hand. 3. Negative Outlook: Using Negative Shapes, Lines and Angles: I've got hadn't taken a picture of this really beautiful, dear, because it's a really great opportunity to do some observational drawing and it's got a little shortening. It's got some texture. It's got different elements would have marked out. Here are some of the negative shapes we can look at that are in between the limbs and surrounding the body that will help get our elements in the right place and make our dear makes sense. Also, here we have some intersection points. For example, where does the nose intersect the back of the body so that we get the right angle or two legs intersect each other so that they look like they're going back on space? Those are really important to observe. Typically, I don't draw from black and white images. I want to interpret the tone myself from a color one. But for our purposes, this really makes the most sense, so we'll have to print this out so that you can draw it on your own afterwards. A minute. Go ahead and just start observing from these basic lines before getting started. If I draw it out here, I've got a very strong angle here inside here for students with high later. I've got this shape here. This is a negative sheep in here. So this is excellent for getting my spacing writes all focus on this area angles. There's another angle here, another angle. Here. There's many, many angles and lines that we can use to help guide us. There's a little shape here. If I just focus on this, could make sure they don't make this to taller. Too short. I've got a bit of a curve here, but again, I can break it down into smaller lines and angles again. Here, have another negative sheep. So this is the way this will work. Another thing I mean, look at is where one thing intersects another thing. So, for example, if I am drying out this back foot, I wanna make sure I'm not making it to mar Too short. It's going back. So I have to make sure that it intersects this leg here. Okay, so if I were to draw that straight line, it would be here. Same with this one. Wants to get this foot in the right place. Intersects this one here. These are all gonna be vital clues even this part where this transitions transitions are super important. So where one element turns into another right here, where the belly transitions and you see that leg? Where does that happen? Above the leg here, by drawling away through. It happens here, so you'll get used to kind of looking for the invisible grid that will connect all the parts. Where is this little back part of that leg that almost hits the very edge of the tail here , but not quite. This one will intersect up through here and you can draw. Isn't many of these lines on your papers you need in order to get it right. Okay, so that's a really important thing. And the face to even though we don't have a claim intersection here, I could still create my own negative space. I could draw a line down on my page and then look at what's left and that will give me another clue. So I'm gonna go ahead and draw this image on my paper here, and I'd like you to try and do the same initial your results so that we can work through the whole process and I will speed it up a little bit as they go. My first just get started with something I could trust. And I'm starting with the head because I want that to dictate the size of the entire dear. If you drive too big or too small, you're setting yourself up for something Neither won't put on the paper is just gonna be minuscule to make sure you get that from an appropriate size and you'll see me kind of going back and forth, but in my pencil to the paper, holding the pencil in the correct angle, drying a little line or just drag my pencil to kind of mimic what that grid would look like . So I get my intersections correct, and they can pretty quickly draft out the entire body, using all those techniques that I talked about with the negative shapes with the angles, especially if you study the image first, give yourself time, toe plot out or even just draw. If you're working for the picture, draw out some of those negative shapes intersection points. You're gonna find this part much, much easier, and that will allow you to more quickly get into those details, which are usually the part. Most of us really enjoy getting some shading, drawing for drawing the details that really make the image come to life. So make sure that you established everything. First, get your contour lines, get all of your proportions correct. And until you get to that place, do not start drawing in any details. Make sure that you get that right, so you're not frustrated. 4. Get Out There: Inspired by Nature: When you get outside, you really never know what you're going to find. If you have the luxury of taking a really long hike, you can more easily perhaps immerse yourself in that environment length of time you have. But even getting out to your own backyard or into a public park. Sometimes even just a parking lot that's full of birds. You can find some incredible subjects to draw. You can find flowers. You confined dried leaves you confined. Insects have a camera handy because sometimes it won't be something you can take. It might be something that moves quickly, so if you can get in and snap a shot, you can take something home with you that you can observe more closely later on. I have chosen to draw a seashell, one of the many I found over the years and just have strewn about. And I started off by making one strong line denoting the basic form of the show in the center. And I've broken it up into those primary sections where the point is where some of those major curves are. And once I get that sort basic outline done and I measure and checked myself to make sure that the top of the bottom halves look like they're about right. I can go ahead and start adding some details, and that's one thing. When you start drawing from nature, you're gonna find an infinite amount of details and textures. So really, really closely look at those What are the simplest shapes they looked like? Are they curved lines? Are they round little forms that just need a slight bit of shading underneath? Teoh give it that little delicate sense that it needs. And even though part of this show is white, most of it is really not pure way. There are some subtle variations in tone throughout the whole thing, So once you do start shading, make sure that you have some different pencils handy. Some that might be HBH or four B. Don't forget to use that range of pencil so that you can push your pusher tones as your drawing and identify that darkest dark. In this case, maybe just that little underside of the show where I have the shadow and then the transition to the show those air sort of the dark histories that I have. So then you can kind of compare those areas to your lettuce lights. So head outside finds a little objects, take some photos and see what you can come up with. Try and dry it and please share it with us in our class files so we can take a look and see what you've done. 5. Everyday Inspiration: In this next video, I'm gonna be drawing just some household objects that I haven't Some cabinets. It's great to keep that up. If you're in kind of a lull and in between projects just to keep yourself fresh and you never know you might find some inspiration in the most common of things. But one thing that I want to point out is that I'm gonna be using objects that all have one element That's the same in that they all have circles. So I'm going to draw a little cordial glass, A little salt. I think it all this is salt cellar. My right. I don't know any case. They all have circular elements. So of course we're looking at something directly facing down that circle really does look like a circle. If you are not, it starts to change shape and looks more like an O or any lip shape as it rotates. So that's something that you have to keep in mind just because you know it's a circle doesn't mean you're going to see it as a circle. But one thing that I want to just quickly go over before we watch those videos of me drawing those particular objects so that you can kind of see what I'm doing put into practice is I want to talk about how we and draw these types of shapes, circles and ellipses and have a sense of surety about what we're doing. So I'm gonna go ahead and just show, show you step by step, how I will draw a circle. And rather than starting by just trying to draw the circle, I'm gonna draw myself a first of all the crosshairs. So wherever these two points, Walter Sex. So, of course, if it's a circle, this is gonna be kind of all these parts match. If it's a lips, you're gonna find that one part is longer than the other part, and you'll have to measure that. So you'll have to check and see. Well, how high is the height of this lips compared to how long is the width and you have to measure those two things against each other to make sure, right? This one I'm just making up. So I'm just gonna kind of show you the process. Here's my central point. Here is my top. I'm just gonna check us to make sure these air equal. So I don't have a monkey lip shape. Okay, that looks pretty good. Let me just check this against this. Okay? That should be slightly taller. And there we go. Now I'm going to just draw a box, essentially with those crosshairs in the middle, you might think. Well, that's a little bit odd. Why would you do all of this in order to draw that? Perhaps, But he will shortly. See, I'm going to use these negative shapes that we're gonna create to get everything the way I want to be. So are so. If I've got any lip shape, then I'm going to want to first drawing that first quadrant here. Now pay attention. Here. Here's my negative shape. Okay. By drying this rectangle phrased, I've now leaving myself something to use as a comparison to make sure that things were not uneven. So I'll give you an example. If I drop has shaped down here, it looks like this act. This does not look anything like this. This doesn't match what doesn't make sense. The shape is incorrect. So I have to fiddle with this until the shape works. With what I see appear. And yes, that looks a lot better. Okay, so these two shapes and I look like they match more. OK, now you're gonna continue on doing that same thing, making sure that these air not coming to a point that they should be, of course rounded. And I will go and check the shape. That should be a mirror image. Essentially, this is only disclosure and get it. We're not machines, so you're gonna have these variants. But in the end, they really don't matter because our eyes fill in the things that are wrong. In a sense, if something is a little bit off, most people are not really gonna notice it unless it's very, very, very off or very obvious. I should say so. This looks pretty good. This looks good. This looks good. So once I get that basic lips in there and I can kids do you want with with confidence and drawing the rest of peace. So just as a quick aside and where are drawing something, say, like a cup? And this is just a comment sort of beginner issue. Let's just say sort of your standard cup shape. Now, instead of drying a flat line. Of course, because this is what our Marine does. Official. We're not used to drawing brain knows that a cup. It's sitting flat on the table. So the initial impulse for a lot of us is too dry a straight line. That is incorrect. That does not make sense and accordance with this shape up here. Whatever curb I have appear should match since she would have down here. Okay, so I'm gonna go ahead and drop out a curve down here. Now again, if you want to really carefully in closing match this Is that because this is certainly wrong or certainly easy to get wrong? You can go ahead, and I can just pull down some extra lines on shack those shapes that you freed by drawing down those extra lights. Okay, so you'll see. Do you think me doing something like this in each and every one of those videos, though at high speed and wanted just take a minute to talk to you about how to set yourself up for drawing this lips. Miss first clip. I'm trying out my view of that little salt holder, and you can see that I'm creating that first the lips for the lid. That's where I just like to start. After I do that, I'm plotting out the bottom by creating the lines, drawing those lines down to see how further but for their extends past the lid. And then I just am grafting in the primary elements, the handle. And then I start identifying some smaller details. Where does broomstick out where? Their differences on color coloration. I can see the little decoration, their believes, of course, Given mind your of use different, you're looking straight down. And I'm looking at it, of course, from sitting in my chair, So you're not gonna see the same thing I am. Well, I drive. Always remember, Your perspective is very important. If you slouch, if you change your angle in any way, you move the object. Your view will, of course, correspondingly changed that. So you're gonna have to keep that in mind. As you said, you want to stay in a position that you can sustain so that you're getting the same view. Otherwise, you might end up with a strange dual perspective drawing where one part looks like it's different than the other. They don't quite make sense together. After you get all of those lines, you've graphed out your basics and you've got all your contours and you're happy with that . Then start your details at some shading. Identify your tones. Where's the dark with light? Where there any major shadows and get those massed in there so that you're drawing has a sense. Ah, volume and weight. Okay, so most important thing for you to do at this stage, yes, to just kind of identify darkest darks, latest lights and put it all together so that you're drawing makes sense in a race away your guides in this particular video and making just a simple measuring spoon. While its simple it is also very complex, identify what you can trust. In this case, I start with the bowl of the spoon. So I used that as a unit of measurement. After I drew at the primary circle, I measured that circle against the handle to see how many of those structures would fit to the handle. I checked my angles to make sure that those match once they get up again, all of those things in place that I can focus on the a little bit of shading that really gives the spoon. Its character makes it look like it's a shiny metal object. Um, anything that you have in your kitchen, anything that you have in your garage tools or wonderful things to draw dry during a hammer wrench. Any of that kind of stuff is going to give you a lot of really cool little angles, facets, textures that usually don't even notice when you're using it for its function. So it kind of helps you rediscover all of those wonderful little quirks about everything that you have. And trust me, you gonna start looking at all of your stuff in a different way. And this last video, I'm during a little cordial glass here. If you know, draw anything in glass, then it's a great exercise. I'm starting exactly the same way I mass out my primary lips. I checked to see how many of those ellipses will fit into the entire glass to make sure that I have on my heights, correct. And then I draw the bottom, the lips. I'm just getting those basic shapes, and I'm using my hand very loose and light way just to get in very soft lines because there is plenty that I might want to just things that I will have to erase as they continue on with the drying Maiga's many guides, as you have to Please don't be afraid to draw an extra ones if you need to, in order to get things right. The cool thing about glasses, Of course, you're gonna have a lot of different types of reflections, many different tones, and that's what gives the glasses you need characteristic. So if you can take the time and if you want to get into some shading, just go ahead and identify the sort of the masses, the shapes within the reflections. It's very easy to give yourself a headache if you try and too many things running at once. So just draw out the basic outlines of some of shapes that you feel are most important for you to shade. So it gives it that nice, shiny look. So take a look around, see what you can find that you want to draw and please share with us