Did you know: the drawing game most people know as misfits or mix and match, where one person draws a head on one third of a piece of paper, then folds it and passes it on to someone else who draws the body and arms, folds it again and a new person draws the legs, was originally invented by the surrealists. They called it: “the exquisite corpse” (in French: cadavre exquis).
Art is about playing with colours, tones, light and shade. Even just “messing around with paint.” We sometimes forget this when we grow up (especially if we call ourselves ‘fine artists’). But it is helpful to remember that art is all about having fun.
You too, can have more fun with your art. Here are some tips and tricks I have gleaned from various sources. All it takes is a little imagination and a willingness to stretch yourself.
1. Set a challenge
Get together with artist friends (whether in reality or virtually) and set a challenge to draw something. Make it something fairly difficult. Make it something you are all interested in as a group. For example, it might be a fan drawing of characters from your favourite series.
When everyone is finished take your courage in both hands and share your drawing (no matter how bad you think it may be) with the others. Vote for a winner. Set a prize ahead of time too, if you want to. (Remember that the other participants should get something too, even if it is just constructive criticism!)
Also remember that it’s not a competition, but a test to improve drawing skills. Play nice.
2. Role Play
Why not take your own reference photos?
Dress up. Use everyday objects as props. It doesn’t matter if they don’t match exactly what it is you need. Get some toy props if you need to.
Let go of your inhibitions and dance around the room trying out different poses. Try to get a feel for the character you want to portray. Act and try to think like them. Enjoy the role play. Take as long as you need.
It is helpful to have a willing photographer friend to hand. But selfies work can work too.
3. Gender Bender
If you are a woman, draw yourself as a man. If you are a man, draw yourself as a woman. For best results, take a photograph of yourself and manipulate it in photoshop.
4. En Plein Air
Get outside into the fresh air with notebook and pencils/pen (even try some paints if you are confident enough transporting them).
Go for a leisurely walk in a place you are familiar with and sit down somewhere you know, where you won’t be disturbed, to draw. Draw the scenery whilst appreciating the summer’s warmth and the sound of the birds.
Why not go with artist friends? Take a picnic. Get more adventurous and go somewhere further afield. But always make sure that you are not trespassing. Draw the scenery; but also draw each other in the scenery.
When you have a finished drawing, you can take it home and turn it into whatever you want. Why not turn it into an alien landscape by manipulating the colours in photoshop or paint a starfield in the sky above.
5. Down the town
Why not take a stroll down the town and look out for areas of interest? This is good if you are a tourist, but can be more fun if it is a town you know well.
Look out for areas of negative space. Areas between buildings or between grills. Notice bricked-up doorways and windows or other curious architectural features. Take photographs of the ones which most interest you.
When you get home, take as many of these features as possible and mix them together in Photoshop to create a surreal cityscape.
6. Don’t drop litter
Instead of going for a walk, why not go litter picking, instead. Go with friends or, even better, why not join a community litter clean up.
Take a separate bag to keep ‘useful’ or particularly interesting rubbish items like broken watches, lost toys, interesting items of packaging etc. Remember always wear gloves or use a litter picker (which is often provided at community events) and don’t handle any dangerous items, like broken glass, without.
When you get home, you can select the best items and make a ‘rubbish’ sculpture. Take a photo of it.
Alternatively, you could arrange found objects on a table so that they form a rubbish monster. Create arms, legs, tail, flippers, fins or tentacles out of everyday objects that have been discarded. Then, make a drawing of the creature in as realistic or stylised a manner as you wish.
Make a diagram drawing explaining why it has an old tin can for a tail and fishing line for tentacles. Draw it in various poses.
If you like it enough, why not put it in a comic strip?
Have you ever read a fantastic book and just wished that there were illustrations as good as the ones you see in your head to go with it? Why not illustrate your favourite book or short story?
I would start with a short story and see where it goes. Just take a few scenes which resonate, and which form the best pictures in your head, and rough out some sketches. Nothing fancy, just so you get the sense of what you want.
If you make enough, you could ask a friend to guess what the story is, based on your illustrations.
If you are very happy with them, work them up into full paintings.
If you are proficient with a particular artistic medium or style (especially if it is relatively niche like encaustic wax) why not offer to do a demonstration at a local event or WI meeting? Why not volunteer your services as a coach or assistant at a local art society?
Taking the plunge by deciding that you have a skill you could pass on, can help to boost self-confidence and improve self-esteem. There is a feel-good factor in being able to teach others something that you feel passionate about.
Even if it is just giving a talk at a local meeting with a few props, you may get others interested in your art and even start a group of your own…
Why not volunteer at your local museum or art gallery over the summer? Volunteering for any art related activity is highly rewarding.
I recently volunteered to paint portraits as part of a community project which are to be exhibited during a local festival. I had not painted a portrait since college, a few year ago, and found it very challenging but ultimately rewarding.
Being able to offer your artistic talents for free gets you known in the area and adds work to your portfolio at the end of the day.
But it is still better to get paid for your art.
If you have lots of artwork cluttering up the house, why not consider holding an exhibition at your local community centre? They are always looking for pictures to brighten up the walls, and, in most cases, will not charge any upfront fee (just a small percentage, sometimes as low as 7%).
This can be particularly rewarding in a tourist town. I went down this route several years ago, and now one of my paintings resides in France!
But, don’t forget to put up lots of posters and get some business cards made up, so that people know who you are.