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  • Writer's pictureKaaren Poole

Drawing Stands on its Own

I’m working on a piece in preparation for recording an art instruction video for Tamara Laporte’s 2024 Life Book program. My intention is to encounter and solve problems I’ll also face in my design for Life Book, but working with a different subject. Hopefully, this will allow me to start out with the Life Book recording without doing a prototype, as I find it a little boring to do the same piece more than once.

With this purpose in mind, I started with the drawing. These days, I often create my drawing right on the surface I’m going to paint but in this case, because I thought I might need a lot of erasing and re-doing to get the composition the way I wanted it, I decided to do the drawing separately. So, I grabbed a piece of drawing paper and began trying things.

But then something irresistible happened. Once I had my line drawing, which is all I would need for my purpose, I couldn’t resist continuing to work on the drawing and make it a piece that could stand on its own. At its current stage, which I’m showing here, I’ve probably worked for about ten hours which is around eight hours longer than I needed for my original purpose. And even with ten hours in, I could work on it much longer, darkening the sky and then doing whatever I’d need to with the foxes so that they'd show against that darkness.

All this brings up that there are at least two different uses for drawing.


I, and perhaps most others, use drawings as ‘roadmaps’ for other pieces, as was my intention when I started working on this one. All that’s needed is a simple line drawing. Its sole function is to serve as a guide for the actual piece, which in this case will be a painting. Of course, drawings can be the first step not just for painting, but also for art pieces in many media, including 3D creations such as sculpture or jewelry.

Here's a tracing I did from my original drawing once I was satisfied with the basics of form and composition. And this is really all I would need for the roadmap for my painting—a line drawing showing the main elements. While creating my line drawing, I paid attention to getting the representation of the animals believable and working out the composition showing how they were interacting with each other.

Here's the painting as I continue to work on the foxes. The sky was first, then I traced the outlines of the moon and foxes and painted them with two coats of gesso. After transfering the rest of the lines in the foxes, I began painting. The drawing was merely the guide for the first steps of the painting.

Even at this stage of both the drawing and its companion painting, we can see that the two, even though they’re the same design and composition, will end up with different “feelings.” I think I’ll like them both and might very well have a hard time saying which I like better.

Drawing is a useful tool, but also a lovely medium on its own. And it’s so very accessible!

The materials are cheap—just pencils and paper. I just use four .5mm mechanical pencils, each with a different lead: H, HB, 2B, and 3B. Sometimes I use actual drawing paper, but often I just work on copy paper. And even the drawing paper isn’t expensive. In fact, it’s less than watercolor or mixed media paper. You’ll also need an eraser.

Drawing is not a messy medium. You don’t need any water and it doesn’t create any dust. No clean-up either.

The materials are few and light-weight: easy to pack up and carry with you anywhere. You can enjoy drawing while you’re watching TV or relaxing outdoors.

You can work in a sketchbook and create a whole story or a lasting record of a precious part of your life.

And yet…I’d say that a well-done drawing is every bit as beautiful as a painting.

I’ve heard people claim they can’t draw. But really it’s just like everything else. It takes practice. The more you draw, the better you draw and the more fun you have with it. So, I hope you’ll grab a pencil, eraser, and some paper and begin or continue your drawing journey!


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Mar 27

Oh, and thank you for your wonderful advice on how to improve my drawing skills!


Mar 27

I really enjoyed this post. I like to draw with pencil & colored pencils. I am very much a novice. Although I have a 5mm HB mechanical pencil, I didn’t know that the other leads were available. It certainly would be more convenient to have 4, each with a different lead for when going outside to sketch or when traveling.

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