Here are few general observations I made myself or heard from my teachers:
* remember that drawing is also a physical activity – engage all your body, whole arm, torso – not only your hand
* do control the pressure and speed of your tool all the time
* quality of line used is very important (generally – it’s what makes the difference between a successful and failed attempt)
* take care about the composition/layout of your drawn piece on the page – it should be visually attractive
* practice drawing not driven by any care about an outcome/results
* change your drawing hand in order to loose control
Here are few tasks you can try to fulfill:
* in order to ‘warm up’ have a generous go in the mark making; try different drawing tools and supports, explore each of it carefully – you should know exactly what your tool/support can do for you; switch freely from barely visible marks to those bold and very dark, vary approaches and scale, wet your support, texture it etc.
* objective drawing – set up few simple objects and try to draw them without any attempt of taking measurements – just like a child would do it; then get a colour pencil and draw the same still-life on top of the old drawing – this time you will try to be as precise as possible using any system of getting the proportions right, that you find useful; having finished you should be able to assess how our mind ‘sees’ three-dimensional objects (looking at the first, unmeasured drawing) – how much it simplifies and ‘rationalizes’ even the very simple things and how much we rely on the good, accurate measuring technique
* “blind drawing” – draw without looking at the page – only on the object drawn, be honest with that, try to draw quickly, in a continuous line (without removing your hand/tool from the page); then slow down and contemplate your object’s form, lines, appearance, details – follow them with your eye, let your hand follows naturally what your eye sees and mind ‘reads’; this type of a drawing is especially important to develop the habit of an intense, object-focused and free from the premature judgment drawing, since our mind is always more than ready to spot the ‘wrong’, ‘clumsy’, ‘incorrect’ etc. – not looking at the work in progress allows to be more preoccupied with what really matters – discovering the essence of the drawn piece and trying to convey it as simply and effectively as possible.
* drawing from the memory – do you remember the facade of your own house? your own bike?, the bookcase that is right behind you? (but don’t look back!) – try to draw it; I remember my own great shame when asked to draw the building of my own college, which I would see not more rarely than each day for months. I drew it with a “proper”, tinted roof while this beautiful XVIII c. great house has a … completely flat roof – in a fact, it’s invisible… I made also a dozen of less embarrassing, but still – mistakes, I spotted some silly details, I missed the obvious things… It’s really interesting how human memory works like, how weak it is and in how burning need of help it is to improve; so, draw from memory as often as possible, try to memorise what you see, then check it out by putting its contents on a sheet of paper.
* speedy drawing – here you need a stopper (or a nice, accurate sense of time) and an assistant (the more of them the better) – ask your helper/s to move around a busy set-up (in a room, on a street) – to change the position every 10, 15, 20 seconds, try to draw not only the person’s pose, but also the surroundings; that is a great exercise in developing the boldness and confidence, the free approach to drawing – there is no time to worry about anything, you just have to act, to use your natural reservoirs of expression.
* ‘surprise’ drawing – you need an assistant, and one willing to draw too (!) – blind him/her with a black cloth, find and object to draw and, not giving any direct clue what that object may be, try to instruct your partner how to draw using any code you can invent, apply (e.g. “clock” code – like “draw a line from 5 to 2 o’clock”); then swap the places between you; apart from the great fun this task is fantastic to make you (others) aware how you perceive even the simplest things, what kind of a language you have or you need to develop to convey the sense of what you are looking at.
Here we are then… Good luck!