Every Friday, I teach students in my studio. I have 10, ranging from age 6 to college age. They are my brave little guinea pigs I try out various and sundry methods of art instruction. I tell them right up front that I believe in only three absolutes in art.
1. You learn to draw by drawing. No Shortcuts.
2. Talent only takes you so far and then its work, work, work (basically, back to #1).
3. No matter what you want to express, be it comic, portraits, abstract, fantasy, etc., you need to learn to see and draw accurately.
One of the first assignments I give them is this Line Challenge. I first heard about it from Jeff Hein. I've had other teachers verify the importance of being able to "locate" the placement of line, determine it's "angle" (using the horizontal and vertical plumb lines of the paper), and finally, gauge the "distance", or length of the line.
I give this sheet of paper to my students and ask them to tape it to a wall and then tape a blank sheet next to it. They can use their pencils to help measure but no rulers are allowed. I ask them to stand and copy the lines on to the blank sheet and when they feel they have it correct, take them off the wall, put them together and hold them up to the light of a window to see how they did.This might seem too basic but it truly leads to many more advanced methods artists use in life drawing, like triangulation. Many teachers recommend students begin with forming an envelope of their subject using STRAIGHT lines as opposed to curves. There are so many ways one can go wrong within the formation of a curve so get your lines down first, then, when you are sure they have been accurately "mapped out" on your paper, you can draw the curves over them. Any way, give it a shot. It's actually a challenging family activity and helps you train your eye to brain to hand process that's so important to artists. Have fun with it....that's another rule if you are my student. There are no mistakes....Only Learning.