Drawing – Getting Down to Business

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Now it is time to concentrate on our controlled free handwriting and actually get some drawings done!  I urge you to seriously consider spending time concentrating on these projects.


  • A chance to exercise your editing and fine motor skills.
  • The opportunity to bring out the precise, subtle, careful, patient and deliberate side of yourself, even if you are ultra casual and messy like me!
  • A successful experiment in making shorter, more accurate strokes by sliding your hand down near the point of the drawing tool.
  • Happily improve your dexterity and create a standard to move forward and create drawings you will love to show everybody!


  • If using a pencil, keep it sharpened! This is most important to get the shorter, more accurate, fine hatching strokes to make an awesome drawing.
  • Evaluate your progress as you go. Having a break every 20 minutes or so and standing back from your drawing helps a lot.
  • Critique how you have graded the tone, softened edges true to the way the light falls, and recorded the details accurately.

To this end, and if you are serious about this, I strongly suggest you go through the somewhat painful process of creating a tonal bar. You will be glad you did as you will see later on!


  • Rule up a 1” x 6” panel and create within it an evenly graded tone. Make sure your pencil is super sharp.
  • The middle tone should be 50% black and should be in the centre of the bar. Occasionally squinting helps a lot.
  • You may use a biro or pen and ink for this if you like. The effect will be slightly coarser than your pencil version but when you step back it will look the same.
  • To make the lighter part of the bar it is best to make the pencil marks further apart.

Here are some tonal bars I have done over time.  Yours may look like the first one.

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I have tried to be neat but it just doesn’t happen for me.  I justify my messiness by a quote from Vincent Van Gogh

“People will frequently say that I have no technique, I don’t care a damn whether my language is in conformity with the grammarians.  I am convinced of the value of the awkwardness I see in my pictures.”  And here is one of his lovely pen and ink drawings with lots of superb hatching.

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If you are like me, I justify the clumsiness in my work, it is not accidental but reasoned out and willed.  I see the value of awkwardness in my own pictures.  I guess it is a matter of whatever works for you!  Here are some works to show how Matisse also has used tonal hatching.

This one a Matisse pen and ink drawing..

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And this is my take on it…


I also recommend you have a look at my previous post, “Drawing – Great Masters Giorgio Morandi”

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