Drawing Part 1

Beauty in Contemporary Art & Drawing Plants and Animals

Art and beauty. A problematic relationship.


Told again and again that modernism was “ugly”, the modernists defended themselves by arguing that beauty is a superficial, bourgeois value and true art is about ideas, politics, the sublime. At the same time, since the 1970s – since the silver jubilee, exactly 25 years ago, when the Sex Pistols were number one – the anti-art tradition of Dada has been mainstream. In the serious art world of today, all this comes together in a pretentious and totally inaccurate belief that radical modern art has always rejected the beautiful.

Is being beautiful too easy?



A problem that many conceptual artists had with beautiful imagery was that it didn’t ask any questions, and was therefore seen as being dull and unprovocative.


Beauty tends to focus on the best parts of our society. Contemporary art is often about looking at problems and examples of injustice in society.

How the 20th century remapped the position of artists in society. Who were they making work for?

The church? nope


Pope asteroid

The state? Not so much.



The family?


A magazine illustration from circa 1950s. --- Image by © Blue Lantern Studio/Corbis

So as all of these institutions were deconstructed and demolished we were left with art which was highly individualistic and trying to operate outside of these hierarchies and systems.




Part 2. Drawing plants and animals 🙂 Yay!





Drawing Form

Now that we have got a good grasp of line, and the importance of varying our lines in our drawing we are going to continue on to another huge element of drawing/painting. That important element is form. Correctly understanding form will give your paintings/drawings more depth. Traditionally schools have taught students to look for four key forms. These are The Cube, The Cylinder, The Sphere, and variations and combinations of these forms.




Using combinations of these three basic forms can enable to draw virtually anything on the planet. It is no mistake that all of the 3D animation software available on the market utilizes these three forms. So why is this important for drawing and painting? So far we’ve been examining what we can see with our own eyes and trying to duplicate it, however, we must remember that we are trying to render the 3 dimensional world onto a 2 dimensional surface. These common forms are like letters which create words. To put it simply our brains know how to read these forms when we see them.

I want you to start seeing everything as if it were transparent in an attempt to better understand the underlying form which holds it all together. For hundreds of years people in figure drawing classes will often stand up and look at both sides of the model which they are drawing. They do this because they want to see how the whole form works together. The angle from which you look at a subject is important, and as an artist you want to gather as much information as possible about the subject you are drawing. That means thinking about what you can’t see, as well as can see. Keep your edges soft and rounded. We don’t want anyone to get hurt if your creature runs into them.

Drawing #15 Industrial Drawing of an animal

For this drawing I want you to find a picture of an animal, and draw it only using these basic forms. Think of yourself as if you are making a schematic drawing. You want to make a detailed blueprint of this animal because you are going to put it into a rocketship and blast it off to a foreign planet. Where no one knows what a French Bulldog (or the animal of your choice) looks like. 😉

This lesson is especially great for those interested in pursuing a career in 3d animation. Most people don’t realize, but all those characters in all of those big budget animation films start off with a sketch. That’s right. Good old fashioned pen and paper.

You may take up to 2 hours to complete this drawing. Make it as detailed as possible.


This unit aims to develop and extend learners’ technical and creative skills through drawing and their understanding of drawing media, materials and techniques. Learners will be encouraged to develop visual thinking and creativity as fundamental to all design work. It will enable learners to experiment with drawing approaches and techniques in order to broaden their experience and understanding of visual language. Learners will need to use traditional art and design materials and media, as well as extending their visual language and creativity through experimenting with unusual materials and media.