What are the five basic skills of drawing?

I was thinking about these words a couple of weeks ago as we were preparing for a talk to a class of students that came for one of our art workshops in the summer, and I was really struck by their relevance. It wasn’t a specific class but in my mind it was clear that what they were saying was essentially a “six-pack approach,” or something like that. The phrase was really apt, and it sounded like something that I would like to apply to my drawing practice of the day.

What do I think are some basic things that I do wrong?

The first is composition; I always seem to do “crisp” things, I don’t “crisp” things that I should. I think it is really important, and it could be quite useful, to know the general styles that I like to go for, but I tend to write as I go, and I don’t try to do things that are too fancy, which tends to make it difficult to do a good job of drawing a composition, and I don’t try to avoid those things.

The second thing is composition, but especially when you do more than one thing that has to be pretty good to pass for a painting; it takes a lot to pull off, and I have to use a lot of different muscles. To be able to draw this close to the canvas, that’s quite important, because I tend to have the biggest canvas on the left here, and then as much as I can of the other side I have to work away. The other one is shading, because it is very important, and again those muscles have to be activated.

The third is composition; I have to put stuff away, and this is something you learn very early on, especially when you are a child, how to use your hands to draw. I think that just as an artist your hands will get tired, and that some things simply do not come easily, even if you like them for a long time.

The fourth is the use of perspective and the relationship between what you draw and what is there. This is a big one, and it needs to come up every few days in a workshop and with practice. There is a sense in being able to know what is right in front of you, but also knowing what is going on, and what needs to go on, and what can be drawn around it. I have a lot of trouble when I try to explain a scene to a student, because