What is a ‘Warm Up Exercise’ in Art?

It is very common in many art classes, particularly drawing classes to start with a ‘warm up’ exercise and we are not talking keep fit!  What is it and why is it important?

Just like a music lesson where you might start with a vocal warm up, a drawing warm up does the same.  It is a way of getting ready to work on more developed studies and getting us ready to draw and paint.  A drawing warm up is not about producing polished studies, it is a quick activity of usually ten to twenty minutes that usually concentrates on one particular skill.

speed drawing
A warm up drawing exercise I use in the Beginners Drawing workshops – speed drawing – draw as many objects as you can see in ten minutes

Why is it important?

Drawing exercises are great for bringing us into the zone of concentrating on art.  One gentleman in my art class a few years ago always missed the warm up exercise as he rushed from work and always arrived ten minutes late.  He used to arrive red-faced and stressed, rushing to get his materials out and start painting, keen not to ‘waste’ time.  I noticed that the first thirty minutes of his painting was rushed and tended to led to mistakes and bad judgements.

I see warm up exercises like warming up for the race, they are necessary and get us into the routine of practice.  They are a safe place to try things out, loosen up our drawing, experiment with media and to develop our observation and creative skills.

Do you have a warm up exercise that you do before drawing or painting?  If so do share with us and how it has worked for you.

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3 thoughts on “What is a ‘Warm Up Exercise’ in Art?

  1. Warm-ups were a key part of my early life-drawing classes, and could be as short as 30 seconds! We drew with our wrong hand, drew the opposite view to what we could see, and even drew the model moving. They were mostly scribble, but if you worked quickly you could get the idea of the pose down, and felt properly warmed up before you had to concentrate for a longer drawing. I still love doing them. The key is to not feel precious about the outcome; they’re not to be judged, just enjoyed.

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