Below are several ways to begin drawing in the visual journal and to take the fear away from the blank page.
Without thinking about it too much, divide the page into several large areas by drawing several lines so they cross the entire page in any direction. Fill a page with a variety of one shape or multiple shapes. Simply “take your pencil for a walk” around a page by allowing your hand to slowly meander around the page allowing your lines to overlap. Set up a little game with yourself by setting limits to the types and amounts of lines and shapes you use. Do not worry about using a ruler or compass. Simply draw freehand, and turn off the inner critic that calls for you to do it right and perfect. Find the joy of making simple marks.
Tracing is a very simple way to add drawing to a page. Trace your hand. Trace your foot. Trace flat, interesting objects like scissors, tape rolls, and wooden spoons. Trace letter and shape stencils. Trace tools such as protractors, triangles, and French curves to draw particular shapes.
Continuous contours are done by sitting normally at a table so that you can see your journal page and the object you wish to draw. Setting the object in front of you is probably the easiest way to begin. Look carefully at the object for a few minutes to begin noticing the contours or edges of the object and within the object. Pick a spot to logically begin, and place your pen or pencil on the page. Allow your eyes to follow the contours of the object slowly, and allow your pencil or pen to follow along on the paper. However, this time you are able to look at the paper, but not pick up the pen or pencil. You will make judgments about length, size, and proportion, and if you do pick up your pen or pencil, put it back down where you left off. Look more at the object focusing on the contours. As the drawing progresses, you may find the need to back track along lines already drawn or to create a “bridge” to get to a feature within the object. These are both necessary since you are not allowed to pick up your pen or pencil. Continue until you have “traced” all the contours of object and within the object. Your drawing should look more like the object then the blind contour drawing, but it will not be perfect. Since you kept your pen or pencil to the paper and could not erase, the drawing should be a little “off.” Again, accepting the process and not the end results allows you to see the beauty of these drawings. As with the blind contour, the continuous line contours help you train your eyes to really observe an object and hand to record those observations.
Modified contour drawings are drawings where you are allowed to look at the paper, to pick up your pen or pencil, and to fix your mistakes. But as with the continuous contour drawings, the key is to carefully look at the contours of the object and within the object and to record those observations. But try not to get caught up in making it perfect. Draw what you see. If you are interested in more drawing exercises there are many resources available. We highly recommend to books – Betty Edward’s Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and Robert Kaupelis’ Experimental Drawing.