One of the first drawing exercises I give students in most of my classes (both live and online) is one inspired by Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Paul Klee and other Modern Painters: One-Line Drawings. These guys really knew how to play in their studios, and the basic idea is that you draw something - an animal, a person, a toilet - with the limitation that once you put pen to paper, you don't lift it until the drawing is complete.
This means you need to think "loops" and let go of how something "should" look, as one-liner drawings, by their very nature, are not realistic renderings.
In addition, I ask students to try drawing slightly faster than is comfortable, so that their hand is working ahead of their thoughts, in an effort to let the subconscious be in the driver's seat:
How can these silly drawings possibly help us in our art?
One-Liners are Great Practice. The most obvious is that one-liners can be thought of as stretches before a workout or singing scales before a song... a few minutes of one-liners before we get to our "real" artwork serves to loosen the fingers, slow us down, and gain skill just being comfortable with pen and paper again.
But more important, I think, is that One-Liners can help us practice not to take ourselves too seriously. When you work fast like this, there are going to be some wipeouts (think: downhill skiing). But that's okay!
One-Liners give us practice wiping out, which will happen often in any art studio. ;D
One-Liners Give Us Ideas. Because we are working faster than is comfortable, one-liners often produce drawings that don't look like our intended subject. For example, the lower elephant in the image above is...
Strange! But... better? When I looked at it compared to all of my other elephant drawings that day, it had the most raw charm!
Drawings like these can serve as inspiration for a more detailed drawing or painting (the elephant at the very top).
One-Liners Teach Us About Ourselves.
"I hate one-liners."
"I love one-liners."
"I hated them at first but like them now."
What is your preference? What is your pattern when faced with a new exercise?
Do you typically love the challenge and charge right in? Or does it take awhile to warm up?
One-Liners can help us notice these tendencies, which can be very helpful when we start working on more serious art... we
learn what interests us, what bores us, or that something interests us one day and bores us the next.
Exercises like One-Liners matter. They give us practice moving our hands and making mistakes. They help us see things in a different way, which we might be able to incorporate into our later work. And, they teach us about ourselves - who we are and who we want to be.
And all these things are great skills for life, too!
Our next year-long class will be chock full of opportunities to to experience the benefit of creative exercises like One-Liners.
Each daily prompt should take less than 10 minutes.
Of course there will be days where you might spend a little longer, and some shorter... The class is designed to let the imagination go free, so some of the prompts may inspire a whole body of work while others might just be a good healthy thought to carry you throughout the day.
Our hope is that these videos will be little creative bursts each morning, and that there is no such thing "falling behind." Sometimes you will miss because of life, sometimes a prompt might not resonate with you... but hopefully, by the end of the year, you will have gained new skills and techniques, stretched your imagination, and learned more about yourself.
That's our goal anyway!
Have a wonderful December,