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What do we mean when, in the discipline of art, we say “make a study” ?

November 16, 2017

ARTS 125 Basic Drawing


STUDIES for Three-Spaces Drawings

What do we mean when we say, in the discipline of art, “make a study”?

A study is an inquiry. You make studies to learn something from them, not necessarily to prove something you already know. Good studies give you something back! It’s beneficial if you have a notion of what you’d like to explore. Set your sights to investigate something: an image, materials, techniques, skills, etc. For example, if you are asked to do six studies of composition, work on defining your terms (what IS composition?) and from there ask what you need to know about composition that you haven’t completely grasped? Now, you’ll have created a path into the ideas you’d like to study and experiment with. Pick things apart… try, for example, looking at “balance” from a number of different angles and create a subject to draw based on this inquiry. Then, draw the subject via studies that approach it with intentional questions and new eyes each time.

What would be the right amount of studies? How do I know if I’ve achieved something?

Of course, there’s no right amount. Knowing when to move on is your call. Look at your first, second, third, and fourth studies and see if you are evolving in your skills. Do two more. Then more if you are in a groove! Perhaps you are seeing a progression in how and what you hunt!  For example, let’s say you have tried out many versions of the way mood is created through value choices. You are using the study format to try out multiple approaches and learning from each one. From there you can decide if you are capturing what it is you want and, if not, what you should do to make changes. Assessment is an imperative step. Studies beget other studies.

What size should my study be?

For our purposes, your studies can be relatively modest in size: no larger than 8.5” x 11

What materials should I use?

The Three Spaces assignment asks that you choose your paper and drawing media. So, you should be experimenting with different combinations that work well for your ideas.

What should I do with the studies I’ve made?

For our assignments, you should keep them in a folder or in your sketchbook. You should title them in such a way that describes what they are studying, i.e., “Study: Texture #1” (and so on) and write the date on the back.

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