The Importance of Doodling

Learn the importance of doodling from American’s greats! In Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists School we see how artists like Norman Rockwell and Ben Stahl began their iconic pieces with a doodle.

Norman Rockwell 2, Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists SchoolNorman Rockwell
Pencil on paper

Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists School offers a lively, inspirational exploration of the creative methods of America’s most highly regarded illustrators, whose influential narrative artworks reached millions on the covers and pages of the nation’s most popular mid-century publications.

Robert Fawcett spoke for his fellow master artists when he wrote, “Spend every spare moment developing the coordination of your eye and your hand to acquire greater resources for what is a difficult business at best. Do not be content with a few sketches. Make hundreds, thousands of complete studies, action sketches, composition notes and accurate observations of the visible world all around you. This will train your brain to remember and your eye to be observant.

Draw constantly, freely, searchingly, courageously, experimentally, lovingly. Forever draw because what you put down is the measure of what you have seen. The more you draw, the more you will see.” In these pages shown below from his sketchbooks, we can see what Fawcett meant.

Robert Fawcett, Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists SchoolRobert Fawcett
Ink and pencil on paper

According to Fawcett, drawing over and over gives you knowledge of form, an accurate eye, and an obedient hand. Once you have those, you can forget technique and a focus on accuracy and concentrate on what it is you’re trying to communicate. These drawings show Fawcett searching out the small details that reveal character and re-creating them in line.

Ben Stahl, Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists SchoolBen Stahl
Pencil on paper

Ben Stahl’s advice was specific—he recommended sketching every day. “Your drawings may be only doodles, but they will free your imagination if you practice constantly.” In his sketches, Stahl sometimes focuses on specific elements, such as facial expression or the movement and position of hands. At other times, his rough drawings block out the underpinnings of a composition with simple lines and tones.

John Atherton, Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists SchoolJohn Atherton
Pencil on paper

John Atherton took doodling a step further. He recommended doing five-minute sketches as practice for more developed drawings—these quick sketches of boats were designed to record facts that he would use in a larger piece. Minor alterations from the first drawing (near right) to the second, such as the streamlined arrangement of rowboats and the addition of a distant hill, have substantial visual impact.

Fred Ludekens, Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists SchoolFred Ludekens
Mixed media on paper

Fred Ludekens agreed with Ben Stahl: “If you learn to draw well (learn the structure and function of humans and the shapes of inani- mate objects), it will give you a language and vocabulary for meeting any artistic challenge.” The small but striking studies below, created in a variety of media — from ink to pencil and colored pencil — are designed to hone his vision by capturing information about the world around him quickly and spontaneously.

Bullrider, Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists SchoolStudy and final illustration for Bull Rider,
1945 Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, July 21, 1945
Study, pencil and colored pencil on tracing paper Final, gouache on board

In the thumbnail sketch of a bull-riding cowboy, Ludekens captures important storytelling and compositional details for his Saturday Evening Post cover. His final painting adjusts the bull’s posture to emphasize action and uses the color red in his background figures rather than on the cowboy himself, as indicated in his sketch.

Norman Rockwell, Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists SchoolNorman Rockwell
Illustrations for Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin, 1963
Heritage Press, Inc.
Pen and ink on paper

In these drawings, the artist’s line takes on a vibrant, autographic quality that conveys each of the book’s wise sayings with good-natured humor and a sense of theatricality.

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Drawing Lessons From The Famous Artists SchoolLearn to draw from the work of amazing artists such as Albert Dorne and Norman Rockwell, the founding artists of the Famous Artists School.

The artwork presented in Drawing Lessons from the Famous Artists Schoolis gleaned from the amazing collection of more than 5,000 artworks and hundreds of thousands of other documents found in the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Organized as a series of lessons in classic drawing technique, each chapter offers both process and finished works by the founding artists and other instructors of the Famous Artists School, allowing readers to see a wide variety of approaches to learning how to draw and styles of rendering.