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Messy Lines

Where to begin, I either have a rough idea of what I want to draw, and I layout the drawing, make changes as I go, and use the layering technique starting with a 2H pencil and working up to a 2B, 2B, or 6B depending on the finish I am looking for. If I don't know what to draw, I begin the messy lines or scribbling and let the energy flow to the paper. The first type of drawing is intentional, the second is intuitive which I refer to as energy drawing.

The process of drawing is quite simple really; you place the pencil on the paper and move the pencil. Seriously, this is how I begin many drawings. Yes, you might say it is scribbling, and in a way it is. However, if you have one hand on your chin and daydream while "doodling" with the pencil, you have yet to grasp the concept. Find a comfortable and quiet place to draw undisturbed, Play music you like, sit up straight, and hold the pencil comfortably in your hand, don't grip it. I begin with a 2H pencil and make long sweeping strokes or angular jaggy strokes, or both, moving all around the paper. After some time, I rotate the paper and continue. I repeat these steps until the paper is well "scribbled." I then take an HB pencil (same as a #2 pencil) and do the same as I did with the 2H.

Okay, I know you will ask, "Why not start with the HB?" Glad you asked. You will notice quickly that the HB pencil is softer and makes a darker line over the lighter 2H lines.


TIP #1 - before going any farther, if you gently erase the HB you will not erase the 2H because it is harder than HB. I call this layering because that is exactly what it is. Not all of my drawing starts with scribbles, but they all use this layering technique. As you use softer pencils over harder pencils, you have the ability to erase them in layers. It's pretty cool stuff.

Comrades in Arms.jpg

<<<    St. Joan & the Dragon - Pencil on smooth bristol   14x17 
(energy drawing)

Who's There?  - Pencil on smooth bristol
14x17  (intentional)    >>>

Who's There.jpg

"St. Joan and the Dragon" (original title "Comrades") is an energy drawing I made while visiting an artist friend, I had no idea where it would take me. We stayed up and made art for 48 hours straight. It was magical!

"Who's There?" is intentional; I knew I set out to draw a dragon.  I used 2H, HB, 2B, and 4B on each drawing, and here is another TIP - using the eraser as a DRAWING TOOL. Erasers work perfectly with layering techniques.

Here are some beginning scribbles in various states of development. There is no right side up yet.


Look closely at the direction of the strokes, and you will notice that I have rotated the paper as I drew. It is very relaxing, and therapeutic but you must allow yourself to relax and have no expectations or preconceptions of what will come out of your drawing. Just draw!

How long should it take to make a drawing? Answer: As long as it takes; an hour, five hours, 10 hours, three weeks, five months . . . the idea of creating a work of art should not include a timeframe. Enjoy the journey first and foremost!

Draw from your shoulder making quick, clean, precise lines letting the pencil move randomly across the paper. I always begin with a 2H pencil. It makes gray lines that I see as the "underpainting" of the drawing. While drawing thus, rotate the paper and continue making random lines until you have enough graphite on the paper to use the eraser. Think of the eraser as a drawing tool and draw white lines and shapes. 

I use this technique for energy and intentional drawing, however, when I draw an intentional image, I don't scribble as much.

Drawing Development - in progress

DOMINION - This is a large 18x24 Medium weight drawing paper.
1 & 2. I erased an in-progress portrait and started making messy lines.                                        >>>>>>>>>

 < 3

4 > 

 < 1

2 > 

3. Scribbling, erasing, un intentionally working in shapes.

4. Saw the possibility of a civilization theme so I drew in the figures in the lower right (Adam & Eve?).

5.  adding details to shapes, still not sure where this drawing is going. The upper portion is still a mess.

6. Randomly erased most of the upper portion. Looking at the "Greek temple" in the center, looking at the stylized horse head left side.

 < 7

8 > 

 < 5

6 > 

7.  Added Mountains and waterfalls in the upper portion.

8. Continued to detail mountains and waterfalls and horse head. Changed tree on the right side by figures.

The theme is yet inconclusive but has some interesting things happening. . .

9.  Dominion - Pencil on 18x24 medium-weight
drawing paper. The evolution of the subject was challenging and took another two weeks after it was completed to arrive at the title. 
(energy drawing)

Copyright 1994-2023 Joel T. Keener
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