6 Steps to Drawing for Mixed-Media Art

Do you draw? I don’t mean a doodle or rough sketch, though those have their place. I mean draw a representative picture of something.

mixed media art journaling by jane lafazio
Drawings from Jane LaFazio’s sketchbook.
(Photo by Jane LaFazio)

I think many artists who don’t naturally draw in a representative way avoid drawing anything at all for fear of being judged. Perhaps they remember grade school art classes where everyone was told to draw the same thing and then-implicitly or explicitly-the student whose drawing most resembled the object was considered “the best.” Or perhaps that happened to them as an adult in art school.

As if you could fail art.

In mixed-media and collage art there are many ways around drawing if you want a picture of something in your piece. You use a photo, trace the outlines of a photo, use a stencil, etc.

But if you really wish drawing was part of your repertoire, I urge you to try it. Because when you try to draw an object accurately enough so that someone else could recognize what it is, you heighten your ability to see lines, planes, shadows, and details that can enhance all aspects of your artwork.

I’ve used Jane LaFazio’s method with some success–meaning I was pleased with my efforts. I like it because it’s friendly and straightforward, and I don’t feel like I need a math degree or a stash of special pencils to get started.

6 Steps to Drawing for Mixed Media
By Jane LaFazio

1. Draw from real life, using simple objects. Start with a pear or another piece of fruit.

2. Grab a pencil, and begin sketching, lightly at first. Look at the object 80% of the time, and your paper 20% of the time.

3. Really look at the object and let your pencil make marks, following with your eye, along the edge of the object. Draw it in pencil as best you can. It should take you about 5-10 minutes. Don’t worry if there are a million pencil marks on the page; keep trying to capture what you see.

mixed media drawing
My artichoke drawing/journal page.

4. Walk away from the page.

5. Come back, reassess. Look at the object, look at your drawing. Are the proportions right? If they are, go over your drawing in permanent ink pen, looking just as closely at the object as you did when you drew it in pencil, but this time, you’re going over your pencil lines with a continuous pen line.

6. Erase all the pencil marks.

Ta-da! Now you have another tool in your toolbox.

If portraits of people are more your thing, I suggest you get tips from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer and Jane Davenport. They both have low-stress methods for drawing faces that you can apply to your collage, art journaling, fiber art, and mixed-media projects. All three of these warm and enthusiastic artists are generous with their tips, tricks, and techniques via tutorials you can find in the Cloth Paper Scissors shop.

P.S. Do you draw? Why or why not? How do you use drawing in your art? Leave a comment below.


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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