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5 Drawing Exercises to Increase Your Creativity.

Updated on November 28, 2014

The art of suggestion.

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

Drawing exercise number 1.

1. Make a drawing that's partly unfinished. You can use a found object as a subject for your drawing and make a life drawing or use your imagination. But do not fill in all the details. If you're drawing a coat, do not draw all the buttons, two or three will be enough, the viewer will imagine the rest of the buttons. Or if you draw the mouth of an crocodile, only draw a couple of teeth.

Concentrate on one part of the drawing extremely and precise and let loose an other part of the drawing. Remember, a drawing does not always have to be "finished"

1. The power of an unfinished drawing.

Art is magic. It's all about suggestion. From the early paintings in the caves of Lascaux 300.000 years ago up to the contemporary art works. Artists create an alternative universe. based upon their interests and the society they live in.

It's often in the eye of the beholder. The artists plays as a master puppeteer with your emotions. He or she knows how to seduce you and how to manipulate your thoughts and feelings. That's ok. Art is there to let us think, feel and wonder. To let us be human.

One of the clever tricks to let you get involved into a drawing is the art of an unfinished drawing. When a drawing has some parts that are not filled in, you as a viewer will have the tendency to fill in those blanks. No need for the artist to draw them.

Look at the drawing of the portrait of Leonardo da Vinci above. The emotional cry, the muscles around the mouth and nose are tense and drawn with detail. That's the most important part of the drawing and that's where the attention is going to.


But Leonardo did some other clever things in this drawing too. He hardly drew the hair and skull of the person. Only a slight notification of the form is present. You as a viewer have to imagine the hair. Leonardo gives you a key to enter the drawing by not completely finishing the drawing.

Jean Arp - (Not Far from the Sun, the Moon and the Stars) - 1962

Jean (Hans) Arp  (Not Far from the Sun, the Moon and the Stars)
Jean (Hans) Arp (Not Far from the Sun, the Moon and the Stars)

Art Assignment 2

"So how can I improve my composition in my art work" I hear you asking ?
Well one simple thing is to cut and paste.
paint several cut out forms in different colours. If you have enough, large forms, small ones, thin ones, thick ones. etc. you can shuffle them on a new paper and find the "right" combination. You will find out the impact of colours. A big red form is very powerful and will dominate the painting. So to combine something and keep the drawing in balance you can better use a small red form and a big blue form. Play around and find what's the right composition for you.

Space - Composition and playing with Form.

Does composition matter ? Do you need a good composition to let your drawing succeed?
Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. But even when it does not matter in a artwork you feel that the artist has a natural way of placing the forms and attributes on the paper.

So what's a good composition. That's difficult to say, some people will give you a long and complicated story about the golden rule used by many artists in the Renaissance and still used in commercial photography. But with modern art (and abstract art) being on the scene for more then a century. (yes the first abstract artwork is more then a hundred years old!!) Composition became a more intuitive thing.

Composition has to do with the direction of the lines, the force of the colour and the weight of the building blocks.Composition is the term for how all the visual elements work together and enhance the coherence of an artwork.

Do you have a favourite artist.

Who's your favourite modern artist.

See results

Wassily Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky
Wassily Kandinsky

Assignment 3 : Erasing and drawing again.

In this assignment we are working in steps.

Follow the "recipe" and see where you end up with. The process of making a drawing is just as important as the end result.

1. draw a form on the paper. (A)
2. draw a bigger form on the paper. (B)
3. draw a third form on the paper that touches the edge.(C)
4. make the first form bigger without erasing the original form.
5. make the second form smaller without erasing the original form
6. Draw a fourth form that touches form A and B and crosses form C
7. Draw 8 vertical lines on the paper
8. Draw 3 filled in forms on top of that.
9. Now "draw" a new form with your eraser.
10. finish the drawing with colour if you like.

Changing the artwork as you go.

Destroy your darlings, that's one of the things you have to learn. Be bold and have the guts to erase your lovely painted nose.Sometimes it's better to erase the most beautiful part of the painting and start all over again, then to save it and paint around it. Normally this won't work.

Learn to change and adapt things. To create means to be creative, But to be creative you often have to destroy and start from "scratch". Scratch doesn't exist though because there was always a drawing before you made this drawing.

One of the assignments I give my students to get them to a point that they are not afraid any more for erasing whatever they've drawn or painted is an old bauwhaus assignment.
It deals with the constant change in a drawing and the learning to improvise.

Robert Rauschenberg - Erased De Kooning

Every line has it's own character.

drawing by Saul Steinberg
drawing by Saul Steinberg

Assignment 4 : draw 10 lines with a character.

Let you inspire by the drawing of Saul Steinberg and come up with at least 10 different lines. Look at them as if they where persons you knew. Your ant, your best friend, your brother or the bartender from your favourite pub.

The line as a Character.

The simple line drawing is an adventure. A strict drawing where the line rules the emotions, not the smudgy shades or the colour dictates the drawing but the simple line itself.

A line can be seen as a member of a family of emotions. You've got grumpy lines, happy lines, aggressive lines, lines in love. It all depends on the curve, angle thickness, speed or pressure of a line. One single line can have a multitude of emotions. Look at the picture above from Saul Steinberg. Every family member is characterised by a different line. Or every line has a different character, and so can be seen as a family member. A personality.

When gravity comes into play.

Drawing by : Lucia Noguira
Drawing by : Lucia Noguira

Assignment 5 : make a drawing with gravity as a subject.

Think about what is the "ground" of the drawing and what is the "ceiling". Make a drawing where something is falling or even better almost falling. Something that's on the verge of happening is more interesting then something that is in the process of happening. Think about the Sistine Chapel where God almost touches the hand of Adam, but not quite. It's again the tension that's been build by the artist.

So give it a go and draw something that is not quite in balance, something that's almost going to fall or is hanging.

The Gravity and Space of a Drawing

Probably one of the best kept secrets of drawing is the influence of gravity. Just like in the ordinary world, the world of drawings is captured by gravity and space, even time is of an essence.

Gravity goes together with balance and tension. three major players that can make a drawing special. Think about the differenc of emotion if you have for instance a drawing with the lower half of the drawing black and the upper white, or the upper half black and the lower half white. The last drawing will give you a feeling of something that is pushing down, a heavy weight. The first one is an ordenary landscape with a light sky above and a sturdy earth below, how it should be.

The intriguing drawing of Lucia Noguira above shows what I mean. She used two strong points to give her drawing tension and power (consciously or not.) The first was is the red spiral. I good draw spiral always has tension, the power to unroll itself like a party horn.
The second element she used to give the drawing somthing special is that she painted the black form on top of the painting. The black form is hanging on the ceiling of the drawing so to speak and is pulled down to the bottom of the drawing by the "gravity" of the drawing.

Those two elements (together with the black-red combination) makes this drawing interesting and exciting to look at.

A great starters kit for people who love to draw.

What's your favorite drawing subject ?

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      TheBizWhiz 2 years ago

      I have recently taken up drawing again and had forgotten how relaxing it is. I look forward to trying these exercises. Thanks for sharing them