The most common thing I hear when people watch me while I paint is, “I love the way you just get in there.” They’re always commenting on the way I just make marks; free and with no worries of how it might look, good or bad.
I have spent years working on my own style of painting, and continuous line exercises are a favorite of mine for creating a quick piece of art that also encourages freedom of play without worrying about the final result (even though the final result is AWESOME).
A continuous line drawing is a great way to sketch anything–you draw the entire thing without picking up your pencil or pen. To keep it even more loose, hold the pencil or pen as far from the end as you can.
For this exercise, we’re going to make a face!
Here are the tools you need. Yep, just a piece of watercolor paper (I’m using a 12×16 pad of papers), some random brushes, a pencil or pen, and watercolors. These from Pelikan are my favorite, now and forever!
To start off, I made a frame in the center of my paper. DO NOT use a ruler! The idea here is that you’re having fun, just doing things loose-y goose-y!
Lots of lines, little scribbles and loops make this whimsical and fun, and add to the loose style of this piece of artwork. I like framing a piece this way because the negative space (space without anything on it) around the outside actually creates a faux-mat. Très chic!
The next part is the fun part–drawing the continuous line face.
I started with the outside of the head and the ears.
From the head, I moved right into the brow bone and the eyes. In hindsight, I wish I would have made my eyes a bit “wonkier,” but live and learn.
From the eyes, I just worked my way down the face; to the nose, lips, chin, and then into the hair, which was fun and crazy. Again, remember to NOT pick up your pen. The lines crossing over the face are what give it movement and create visual interest.
Once you’ve drawn out your face, it’s time to dip into the paint.
When I make little sketches like this, I tend to enjoy sticking with a particular color family. Warm colors, cool colors, monochromatic, etc…
For this piece, the warm colors were speaking to me. I started with just flicking the paint on and painting the lips and cheeks.
I also went around the frame with a watered down red (aka: pink). I defined the hair and face with more warm colors. The idea here is that you can just really get in here and have fun. Don’t let the lines confine you! Break free, reader! Do it.
Flicking paint is right up there on my “Favorite Things To Do” list, so I really went ham on this beauty. I also built up my watercolors by using less and less water to get a more opaque color. I even decided to give this babe a little black accent in a few spots. More contrast is always a good thing.
See, here I am, flicking paint like it’s my job:
Part of “arting” is knowing when to stop. White space can be a good thing when used properly, so I pulled the plug on the painting at this point:
…I always like to step back and assess my work from a few feet; getting a different view of your work can almost be like putting new eyes on the work, and you see things that you don’t necessarily notice while you’re working on the piece.
When I looked at this piece, I realized her eyes needed a bit more…something. So I added some black to the pupils, and also signed my name.
Voila! You’re done.
The total time I spent on this was less than 10 minutes.
Have a great Wednesday, fellow artist!