Plant hybridisation. Kangaroo Paw cross Cow Thistle

I didn’t have art as a subject at school and no drawing skills to talk of. Even at Uni, I felt some just “had it”, and I didn’t, and no one could show me what I did wrong to improve.

Only years later, doing a teacher’s diploma, I realised I needed a technique to teach my students how to draw. I studied watching u-tube clips, buying programmes online, and eventually, I combined a few of the most relevant and successful tips into one drawing “system.” For seven years now, I have tried and tested these techniques with students from ages 5-85. So, let’s do it!

1 Focus

Why do you think you can listen to music and drive while you sing, but you turn the music down when you have to do three-point parking? You can multitask if your tasks are on autopilot; but to use your brain effectively, focus on one task and do it well. That means don’t talk while you draw, multitasking is overrated!

2 Silence

If you listen to music with lyrics while you draw, your brain will multitask. Some people hate silence (I love silence) so if you can’t stand silence, listen to music that is tried and tested. Baroque music is excellent to listen to if you want to focus, and many studies confirm this.

3 Draw from observation

This is often the most challenging point for me to sell, but it is another tried and tested fact. When you draw from a photo, your brain does not compute a 3D form. You translate an image from 2-D to 2-D. The best way to “understand” a shape, be it an eye, a tree, or my challenge; the nose is to really look at something.

4 The 10/90 rule

Your eyes should be on the object you are drawing 90 per cent of the time. Your hand should be active on the paper 10 per cent of the time. Learning how to see is more brain activity than a drawing activity. It is not easy to do, but you can try drawing something by putting a cloth over your hands while sketching the object. The drawing might not be pretty, but you can throw it away if you do not like it.

5 Break the subject down into spheres

When you break down a complex object into geometric forms, it is easier to “see” what you are dealing with. This is especially true if you are drawing still life objects. Watch the video clip on still life drawing and let me know if my advice helped you to draw better. I would love to hear from you.

Franci Hepburn