by Yvonne Hanson for Goodwin Creative
Yvonne Hanson’s beautiful art and travel journals are legendary. Here she shares drawing prompts that will inspire you to sketch out of the box.
1. Self portrait
On a mirror with a washable pen, trace the lines of your face or of one particular part (an eye, your mouth, etc.) Take note of things that you discover: the placement of under-eye bags, the curves in your nose, the line of your jaw. Recreate the line-art on paper.
2. Poses and Posture
Draw stick figures in a variety of positions- dancing, jumping, leaning backwards, sitting forwards, etc. gradually fill in the bodies of these figures using a wooden model or online guide. It’s helpful to draw a line down the centre of your figures that runs through the nose, sternum, and pelvis. If your figure is twisted or bent, the line should be too.
Draw the silhouette of something you’re good at drawing. Then, draw the biggest circle that you can without going outside the lines of that silhouette. In the remaining space around the circle, draw the biggest circles that you can. Attempt to fill the entire space with circles. Each new circle creates room for several smaller ones, and eventually you will have spaces that are too small for new circles ( using a fineliner will reduce but not eliminate this problem). If you like, colour in the circles and spaces according to the coloration of the thing you drew the silhouette of.
Using an online guide, make a rough sketch of the proportions of a human face. Include lines for the nose, mouth, eyes, ears, and eyebrows. Then, instead of drawing a human face, try to draw one as alien as possible while still following the proportions you have sketched. Pay attention to shading and details such as eyelashes, lip-wrinkles, and facial blemishes.
Go through a few magazines and cut out pictures of hands in as many different positions as possible to glue into your sketchbook. Using a pencil or erasable pen, trace over the key features of each hand. Pay close attention to the width of the hand, the length, and its connection to the wrist. Try to recreate these hands beside the pictures. Don’t focus on detail, instead, focus on making the position of the hand look as natural and fluid as possible.
With a pencil, draw a large square with a dot in the centre. Draw lines between the corners of the square, crossing over the dot in the centre. Attempt to draw the room you are sitting in by first drawing the largest objects, and later filling in details. Use the lines as guidelines for perspective: things closer to the dot will be further away, things closer to the edges of the square will be closest to you. An object that starts close and gets further away will seem like it is being ‘pulled’ into the centre by the dot, and will have lines of the same angles as those you have drawn.
If you have a pet, try to sketch it as quickly as possible. Focus on forms and shapes, not on detail. When it moves, sketch its new position over top of the old one. If it moves to the right, sketch it again to the right. Allow your sketches to overlap. If you do not have a pet, this would be a great excuse to watch cute cat videos on youtube.
It’s dangerous to rely on memory when drawing, especially if you haven’t trained your memory to recall forms and shapes before details. Generally, what we remember most about a scene is what we see as the most unusual. This is why some people are good at drawing eyes, but unable to draw the rest of the face. For this exercise, find a photograph you like in a magazine or newspaper, and give yourself 30 seconds to study it. Try to see shapes, not objects. Instead of seeing a cup, remember the shape of the cup and its position relevant to other objects. Then, try recreate the photograph from memory. This may take several tries, don’t be afraid to ‘cheat’ if you get stuck.
Allow yourself to be filled with a specific emotion. Focus on that emotion, think about how it feels, the physical effect it has on your body. Try to draw that emotion coming out of you. It may be helpful to start by drawing a self-portrait of your facial expression while feeling the emotion, and letting yourself get carried away as you draw the components of your face that are most altered by that expression. Don’t try to preserve the first things you sketch, let them be covered and obscured as you add more details.
It’s always good to practice drawing objects, I find it most helpful to draw from photographs. Dedicate a page in your book to drawing objects that you feel represent you, or are otherwise close to your heart/ identity. Like music? Try drawing piano keys. Like fashion? Draw a few of your outfits draped over the bed. Try to fill the page with these drawings, making use of every inch of space available.
You can find many of Yvonne's journal pages as well as inspiring tips and information on her tumblr - click here. As well you can find Yvonne on instagram where she posts images of her garden as well as her journal pages and paintings. And recently, you can view her beautiful photography on @yhanson_photography