Draw, Drawing, Drawn to Watercolor

Drawing is the basic essential to all art. Drawing is important in watercolor because you need to plan in order to save the precious white areas in your painting. With a good plan and a basic outline in place, your paintings will be more successful. The drawing methods in this chapter relate to drawing needed for watercolor paintings. You need to draw shapes accurately and understand how shadows and perspective work to make your paintings believable.

Watercolor requires a drawing unless you are working experimentally and looking for an abstract result. If you are working representationally, meaning that the painting is supposed to represent or look like something of the real world, you need a drawing.

When drawing in preparation for your watercolor, you are collecting information for your painting. Because you’ll be painting the image, you need only the cartoon, or outline of the areas and shapes. You don’t need to do shadows and shading; you paint those aspects. You may want to outline the shadow area to remind you where to paint the darks and lights, but the drawing is for your use only. You determine how much detail you need to include to accomplish the painting.

Drawing takes time and practice, but after you acquire the skill, drawing can fill your life with something to do forever. In our society of immediate gratification, it’s hard to wait for a lifetime of practice before you get started. Good news. This chapter offers a number of quick ideas to make drawing easy and painless.

Drawing Geometric Shapes and Adding Dimension with Shadows

One of the best methods to use when you’re new to drawing is to see things as simple geometric shapes. Almost everything can be broken down, or abstracted, into circles, squares, and triangles. When these flat shapes get three-dimensional form, they become spheres and cylinders, cubes, and pyramids.

When I start talking about drawing, everyone immediately says, “I can’t draw a straight line.” Who cares? Straight is boring. There aren’t any straight lines in any of my paintings. Another stereotype I hear is, “I can only draw a stick figure.” To which I reply, “Good!” That’s exactly the right attitude for this exercise.

Draw a bunch of items, but reduce them into circles, lines, squares, triangles, and simplified shapes -much like a stick figure. See the shapes first. The details are just icing on the cake.

Check perfection at the door for this part. Think loose and free, and scribble for this type of drawing. No erasers allowed.

Simplifying a complex shape into familiar geometric shapes makes it easier to see and therefore easier to duplicate with a drawing. Figure shows two prairie dog drawings that begin with geometric shapes.


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