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Art Exercises: Single Line Drawings

Take a page out of Picasso's play book and stretch your creativity by going simple. Really simple. How? Start with single line drawings. The simplification of a subject, done well, can have much more impact than an overly detailed, realistic drawing. When you are practicing this exercise, focus on two ideas: simplicity and stylization.

Eliminate Detail
The point of this exercise is not to focus on detail, but to visualize the entire drawing as simply as possible. This means, quite literally, no detail. Picasso's drawings have a single solid stroke defining the subject, and this adds greatly to their impact.

Visualize the Essence
Whatever the subject you choose, focus on the essence of our subject. Picasso's work, The Bull, is an excellent example of boiling a complex subject down to its essence. Yes, this example shows the final product as having more than one line in the drawing, but the effect is the same: the drawing retains the essence of form as the original subject.

Focus on Fluidity
One of the elements at makes Picasso's single line drawings so successful is their fluidity. The lines are single solid strokes, with the rare point or corner, and this helps the eye move smoothly across the work. As you are working, pay attention to how your eye moves over the drawing. If there is an area that feel heavier, or more concentrated, work it out until it gains more fluidity.