Bailin Studio


Drawing Conclusions

Notes To A Young Artist

July 15, 2015

The Fundamentals

Doodling is to drawing as practicing scales is to music the purpose of which is to create muscle memory so the artist can concentrate on meaning and expression

Want to improve your drawing skills? There are five doodles that are concealed within drawing practice. It is precisely because these five doodles are concealed within an already complex and mystifying process of creating something out of nothing that they have a preternatural affect on the art. Whether the artist is aware of the doodle within the gesture is unimportant; that there are fundamental doodles that can be found and exploited is important. Practice these doodles and you'll be able to draw anything.


Thumbnails are the blueprints to the drawing practice. You can't build a house without considering the purpose for which the house is being constructed or the land on which it is built. Similarly, how can you start a drawing without knowing its focus or how you are going to organize it?

Thumbnails are ideas working through the hands. They are the equivalent of visual short-hand. They determine compositional focus and viewpoint and allow you to work through visual ideas and experimentation. Thumbnails allow you to discover what interests you in a setting so that you aren't bored when you translate thumbnail to finished drawing. They are indispensable and must be part of your artistic workflow.

Student thumbnail drawing
student thumbnails and finished drawing

Working With Thumbnails:

1. Create a minimum of four thumbnails

2. Select one that works compositionally and thematically but that above all is interesting to you.

3. Using an extremely light line, transfer the thumbnail on the final paper without looking at the model (i.e., use the thumbnail as your model). Scale all internal proportions and visual weights as well as the bounding box accordingly. See example above.

4. Once transferred, use sighting to lock in the internal proportions

The artist spends hours working on a drawing. It is dull and solitary work. The process leads to periods of creative emptiness and anxiety as well as moments of high expectation and excitment. But no one else is interested in this absurdity except for that which is produced from it. The take away is simple: make what you create meaningful and take responsibility for it.

Facing the Studio


1. Don't Make Wallpaper

2. Don't Contemplate Your Navel

3. The Pit is Inevitable but avoid the Zone

4. Practice Your Doodles

5. Use Thumbnails

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