Sow a Habit, Reap a Harvest

 A small sketchbook study done from life during the planning and inspiration stages for a painting called, "The Bride."

 A small sketchbook study done from life during the planning and inspiration stages for a painting called, "The Bride."

Drawing is the foundation of all painting, thus great care should be taken to sow the seeds of good working habits. Doing so is a tremendous investment in your artistic development; you'll reap rewards for the remainder of your artistic journey. I've certainly found this to be true in my own creative development, and I want to encourage you to establish deliberate working habits in your day-to-day and week-to-week drawing routine that foster artistic growth.

In my new book, Beginning Drawing, and the corresponding series of "Learning to Draw with Alain Picard" videos produced with ArtistsNetworkTV, I reveal and expound on the visual, drawing and routine habits that are necessary to communicate effectively with the language of drawing. Visual habits have to do with learning to "see" as artists, while drawing habits deal with how we transcribe what we see through a variety of mark-making techniques. Finally, routine habits embed these repeatable practices into your drawing approach and develop the discipline of regular working habits. The outcome of this disciplined approach is artistic confidence and repeatable success.

While it's important to establish a consistent drawing routine, it's equally important to develop what I call "routine habits" that will serve to encourage your working routine. I want to share some ideas with you from my book, "Beginning Drawing," that will help you develop your own working routine. I believe that if you implement them into your regular work rhythms, then your drawing ability is sure to grow in leaps and bounds, and your creative voice will begin to speak volumes in no time!

For My Love charcoal and white chalk on buff paper I created this life study of my wife, Mirjam, during a weekly portrait group I attended. On our anniversary in 2005, Mirjam sat for the group that night so we could be together.

For My Love charcoal and white chalk on buff paper I created this life study of my wife, Mirjam, during a weekly portrait group I attended. On our anniversary in 2005, Mirjam sat for the group that night so we could be together.

4 Drawing Habits to Develop

1. Practice, practice, practice! You've got to prioritize the goal of learning to draw. Get out your calendar and schedule regular time to draw. Make it a priority, and build it into your routine, just like exercise or daily meals. Skill develops through consistent practice! Carve out the time to draw regularly every week. Start early rather than late, and try doing one sketch a day--every day--for a month.

2. Draw from life regularly. Drawing from direct observation of nature is one of the very best ways to improve. Carry a sketchbook and a pencil pouch with you so you can sketch anywhere you go.

3. Get feedback & encouragement. Why not connect with other artists in your area? Consider joining a local weekly life-drawing sketch group to develop a consistent habit of working from life. Your connection with other working artists will provide accountability and encouragement in the development of your work.

After Drolling graphite on Strathmore paper. I created this copy study years ago after the self-portrait done in 1804 by French artist Michel Martin Drolling.

After Drolling graphite on Strathmore paper. I created this copy study years ago after the self-portrait done in 1804 by French artist Michel Martin Drolling.

4. Copy the masters. One of the best ways to learn technique is to study the great drawings and paintings of art history. Choose a drawing that you absolutely love and try to copy it, stroke for stroke, tone for tone. This process of imitation will impart volumes of drawing wisdom to you as you seek to understand how the artist accomplished such a beautiful study.

I hope these four habits will encourage you in your artistic development. For more insight and instruction, pick up my book, "Beginning Drawing." I know it'll help you grow in your drawing ability.

Be inspired ~Alain

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