The co-ordination of hand and eye is a necessary starting point for freehand drawing. It is only through frequent practice and by following sound principles that the facility to draw without hesitation or uncertainty can be attained. The fluid, confident lines of an accomplished draughtsman are achieved as the result of much practice. This book does not pretend to teach drawing, only to encourage its use as part of the design process. Like the acquisition of all skills, training and self-discipline are as important as the possession of natural talent.
Practice does not require that you spend your time entirely on location drawing. The home and the design studio or workshop provide ample opportunity to develop eye-to-hand co-ordination or to test the rules of perspective drawing. By looking at the outline of the subject and infilling part or all of the detail - whether it be a drawing of a chair or cup and saucer - you will quickly develop the basic skills necessary for sketching in the street. The importance of spontaneous, relaxed drawing cannot be overemphasised. While you might be concentrating on organising the angled lines of a scene into a sound perspective framework, the fact that you are sketching at all is of the greatest importance. Unlike the first notes on a piano or trumpet, the artist's scribbles are largely a private affair and should not disturb the household. It is remarkable how quickly most people graduate from producing primitive, inhibited sketches to lifelike representations.
It is important that you approach drawing from both ends - from the personal, idiosyncratic angle, and from the point of view of academic skill. The latter concerns questions of perspective, composition, shade and shadow. By developing both a personal style and a good grasp of basic principles, it should be possible to produce drawings that are lively and informative. Architectural sketching benefits from both a strong individual approach to the subject and the necessary graphic techniques to relay the private vision satisfactorily.
Small subjects can be a useful starting point in learning to explore through freehand drawing. Here a fragment of structure from the lighthouse at Dovercourt forms the basis of the sketch.
Edward May's sketch of candleholders is the type of subject which lends itself to a practice exercise. May's facility for drawing was, no doubt, acquired as the result of many such sketches. (RIBA Drawings Collection)
This sketch (dated 1905) by Mackintosh of a hall at Cley in Norfolk edits out features in an attempt to interpret rather than merely describe the scene. The artist's facility is achieved as the result of practice and a critical approach. (Glasgow University: Mackintosh Collection)
A degree of abstraction helps when rendering difficult subjects, as in this sketch made near Dubrovnik.
Derelict industrial areas (in this case on the edge of Birmingham) provide much material upon which to practise different drawing techniques.
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