Exploring the Garden: Line Drawing

By Cas Holmes

Drawings are visual notes and studies which are used to plan work or can be a piece of work in its own right.   They can be used for design ideas, quick reference or to communicate ideas where verbal clues would be difficult.

In the video demonstration for Beyond Festival of Quilts Cas will take you through the basics of drawing with continuous line drawing in pen. The movement used is not dissimilar to the lines created when working with free-motion stitch on a sewing machine. Practice with drawing will help you gain confidence and fluidity in the lines you create with machine stitching.

The workshop is supported by additional guidance notes and you can watch this video as many times as you like, pause and replay so that you can really get to grips with process of observation and drawing

What you will learn

The aim of this exercise is to explore the relationship between looking and drawing by creating continuity in the looking-drawing process. We will do two drawing exercises both requiring careful observation and require you to keep the pen/pencil moving while looking at the object.

Duration: 20-30 minutes

What you will need

  • A3 cartridge paper, sketchpad or whatever paper you have
  • A pencil (1-4b preferable) or pen or whatever you have to hand
  • A mid-size organic object/plant

Watch video tutorial

Exercise 1 – step-by-step guide

Step 1

Select your object.

Step 2

Touch your pen/ pencil to paper and look at the object/ subject-not at the paper draw a continuous line drawing, keeping your eyes on your subject at all times.

Try not to cheat, no glancing at the paper!

Exercise 2 – step-by-step guide

In this drawing there should be as small a gap as possible between the looking and the drawing. It is important to look-draw-look-draw. Your glances should be rapid.

Step 1

Position yourself so that your drawing and the object are as close to each other as possible and all you have to do is move your eyes.

Step 2

Keep drawing while looking, twist and turn the pencil/pen and feel the mark as you make it. Do not move the pen/pencil off the page while drawing.

Step 3

You should only be looking at your drawing to make sure that you are drawing more or less in the right place. Concentrate on the looking.

Step 4

Look quickly but don’t draw too quickly. Keep in touch with the pace of your looking, keeping it as regular as possible.

Step 5

You should try to split the looking fairly evenly between the object and the drawing.

Repeat 3-4 times.

What do the results show?

Through constantly looking and drawing you should be feeling more confident with each drawing you make. You learn to draw by drawing and each drawing you make will be different.

This is just one exercise. Here are a few more things to consider as a guide:

  1. Make drawings regularly. Once a day if possible, to keep your eye in.
  2. In the absence of paint or colouring implements keep extra notes of the colours you’re observing and what you felt about what you were seeing.
  3. In ‘Objective Drawing’, draw only what can be seen, not what you think is there.
  4. Every mark you make must mean something. Choose a mark which best represents what you see.
  5. Vary marks in thickness and density.
  6. Look at everything as though for the first time. Trust your eyes. Have visual curiosity, see rather than look.
  7. Every line should mean something and should continue into nothing. It should describe a shape or lead the eye elsewhere.
  8. Experiment with different methods of making marks.
  9. Try various mediums, e.g. charcoal, crayon, pencil, chalk, ink.
  10. Use good quality paper where possible but also experiment. It sometimes helps to draw on coloured paper, brown paper, newspaper, collaged surfaces can also be a good.
  11. Keep all notes (even the scrappy ones) for future use.
  12. Refine and extract shapes later to make a design.
  13. Make a view finder. It helps to isolate interesting parts of a view which you can work on later for a project or design.
  14. Be prepared to ‘play’. Try drawing with charcoal on the end of a stick to improve control in the arm. Draw without looking at the paper. Make a drawing without taking your pen off the paper.
  15. Finally, stop worrying if the drawing is ‘good enough’ or what others may think. You are drawing for your own reference, it is only for you and a reflection of your thought processes.

I could just about bear to lose a piece of work… but a sketchbook is another thing!

Depending on where you are situated, these are suggested themes for continued drawing:

  • Views through your windows note the little changes. Practice the colour theory we have covered and a use a limited palette. Try textural studies in coloured pencil. Very useful on wet days or where you may have a little garden balcony.

  • A favourite place to sit

The weather was glorious during lockdown and in the afternoon I sat on my favourite seat and drew what was front of me and made observations when I could.

About the tutor

Cas Holmes

Cas Holmes trained in fine art. Her work combines mixed media with found materials and stitch and is best described as ‘painting with cloth’. Salvaged materials are torn, painted and re-assembled to create mixed media pieces drawing their inspiration from the landscape and the everyday.

Her work and projects are reflected in her publications for Batsford and the most recent is ‘Textile Landscape’ (2018).

Cas has recently been commissioned to work on an exhibition, Places, Spaces, Traces as part of Gypsy Maker 4 supported by the Romani Cultural and Arts Company and Arts Council, Wales. Having toured in 2020, this has led to the development of a new installation reflecting the notion of ‘Identity’ and ‘Place’ which is due to exhibit in Antwerp during 2021.

Cas is an exhibiting artist with Art Textiles Made in Britain who will be exhibiting at The Festival of Quilts in 2021.