Lucinda Stephens Workshop 28 April – Drawing Skills



Whilst we were fewer than usual in number, we all worked well together at this inspiring and challenging day of drawing. Lucinda brought out the best in all of us with her encouragement and wonderfully positive attitude, which rubbed off on us and got us achieving drawings we little thought we could do.

Lucinda started with a general introduction and the question ‘What is drawing?’. She reminded us that it is not ‘magic’ but mark-making – one line next to another line, next to another line and so on. We all draw in our own way and it is our own perception of what we see that matters. There is no right or wrong way to draw, only YOUR way, working from one’s head via the tool of the hand. Drawing is the skeleton of art – if ever you get ‘lost’ when painting, go back to your drawing skills to bring the image back.

We looked through a large selection of drawings done by artists through the ages, from cave paintings to modern day. Each and everyone is different and they have their own particular mark-making method. Lucinda advised us to take time to look at other artists’ work to keep inspired and to see what other ways there are to draw. Whenever you see a  good painting, be sure there is a good draughtsman backing it up.

Before we started drawing, Lucinda led us through a series of exercises, all of which help one to lose the stresses of ‘real life’ and get the brain into a more focussed state for the task ahead. Using scrap paper we initially scribbled circles, zig-zags, vertical lines, and any other shape that you wanted, altering the pressure of the pencil to get different weights of line. This was followed by a series of drawing the hand – using line but really exploring every wrinkle and  bump, first using your usual hand for drawing and then one drawing with your other hand. We then had to draw the hand with tone only; do a ‘blind’ drawing, ie not looking at all at the paper; then with a continuous line and finally draw a hand carefully taking on board all we had learnt with the other drawings which resulted in a very much more accurate and interesting result.


We had been given a sheet of paper with a grid of 24 squares on it, and Lucinda asked us to look at the different shades of tone that can be achieved from the darkest and most dense, to the lightest possible and all the gradations in-between. This led onto a study of, in my case, a red onion, in tone only, no line drawing allowed. Finally, before lunch, we looked at SPACE, especially negative space which is the space in-between. A large and complex still-life had been set up by Lucinda and we had to tackle it by colouring the negative space only a dark tone. This is a really useful exercise for helping plan a complex view of a landscape or cityscape and certainly makes ones more aware of the relationship of  one thing to another. It is not an easy concept to get one’s head around but is well worth taking the time to understand it.

After a welcome lunch and re-charge of ‘batteries’, Lucinda got us to draw part of the still life using SPACE, LINE & TONE, thus making use of all the things we had learnt in the morning session. WHERE things are, not WHAT they are was the mantra we had to keep in our heads. About half-way through, she then told us to erase 60% of what we had drawn – a difficult thing to do, especially if you think your drawing is going well! We then had to change medium and bring the drawing back and, of course, had some really exciting end results.

        The final exercise was to draw with a sharp piece of eraser, having covered the paper with a thick layer of charcoal and rubbed over it with paper towel. Only when we had removed the charcoal to create various tones and highlights, could we add a few black defining marks eg the shadow under a tea-pot when it meets the table. Another valuable lesson in mark making and in getting one out of the rut of safe drawing.

We all enjoyed this excellent workshop and left both inspired and very tired after a day of intense concentration – many thanks to Lucinda for such a good grounding in the techniques of drawing, in which she challenged us and stretched us  and left us all wanting to do much more.

Briony Watson

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