Introduction to the Visual Arts

Drinking & Drawing

Illustration of a "Bob Ross" looking character drawing a can of beer that has a label on it that reads "Drinking and Drawing"
Image: the santa fe

Out in IRL there’s an event called "Drinking & Drawing". It often involves beer or wine and making sketches of life models. We are not doing the beer or wine part!

But by meeting at Piotr Kowalski’s 1965 sculpture NOW, right next to Robeks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at the USU we can still drink Robeks smoothies, iced Coffee Bean coffees, hot chai lattes, or whatever else you like. Of course, no purchase is necessary, you can also bring your water bottle. And feel free to have a late lunch or afternoon snack!

Piotr Kowalski's "Now" sculpture as installed on the Long Beach State University campus
NOW, 1965, Piotr Kowalski, with Sun, 2018,by Melissa Vierah


You can work anywhere you like. Inside the USU. At the umbrella tables outside Robeks/Coffee Bean. On the grass around Piotr Kowalski’s NOW sculpture. And other nearby areas. Make yourself comfy.

6 Sketches

Make a minimum of 6 sketches. 2 each of:

  • A Drink
  • A Tree
  • A Person

Your Drink

Take your Robeks, Coffee Bean, Water Bottle, or anything else, yes, even Starbucks if you want to walk over and get one (even though Coffee Bean is better! 😛 and draw it! Take your time. Try to represent the volume of the cup. Show the foam of whatever is inside. Can you make your drawing feel like it feels to drink this drink?

One or both of your drawings should be of your cup.

If you have a paper cup, or if you have a plastic cup and something like Sharpie markers, one of your drawings can also be on your cup.

A Tree

We are a campus filled with trees. Find 2 and draw them. Will you go for lots of detail in every leaf? Or will you try to express the feeling of motion as the branches sway in the breeze? Try to make a drawing that feels like something.

2 Persons

Person #1 should be a drawing of your own hand holding your drink. Mostly just fingers and cup. Try doing a Contour or Blind Contour drawing.

If you think about it, people who are great at dribbling basketballs probably spent hundreds or thousands of hours dribbling a basketball on their driveway as a kid. Today it seems easy. If you’ve never dribbled a basketball, it isn’t easy. What all those hours on the driveway did was to develop your hand-eye coordination.

We have the hand-eye coordination to pick up our drink because we’ve been doing that all our lives. But not everyone has been dribbling basketballs or drawing people. So even though your brain can see the basketball or the person, your hand can’t always sync up with what your brain wants to draw. So we dribble the ball a lot. Or we draw a bunch of contours.

Pro Tip: drawing is all about looking! Don’t glance at your subject for a few seconds and then put your head down and draw, draw, draw! Then you’re making a drawing of the cup or tree in your head, not the one in front of you! You should spend 50% of your time actually looking at the thing you are trying to draw. Slow down. Relax. Meditate on it. Look! Draw.

The idea with a Contour Drawing is to put your eye on, say the tip of your index finger, and then to put your pencil on your paper. Now slowly let your eye move along the edge of your finger, and slowly let your pencil try to make the same moves on your paper. A Blind Contour Drawing is the same thing, except you try really hard not to look at your paper till you’ve finished. This is a great way to develop hand-eye coordination!

For your 2nd Person Drawing, partner up with an Art110 classmate and take turns drawing sketches of each other. Yes, I know, except for a few talented classmates, most of us will suck at this. Don’t stress about it and don’t worry about it. Just be loose and try to have fun. Don’t worry about a lot of detail. Try to do more than stick figures. If you think about it, an arm is a couple of ovals, and then a hand is a circle with a bunch of ovals coming off if it. Be simple. But try to think about volume.

Extra Drawing

You can also make a drawing of your future tattoo!

Starbucks cups in 4 different sizes and on each cup is an "ascent of man" illustration from primates on all 4's, to walking upright. In the last frame, the upright human orders a coffee
Drawing by Josh Hara, @yoyoha


  • Pencil – drop by the Art Store in FA3. Tthey have all kinds of pencils, graphite, charcoal, pastels, and other cool things to draw with. Find a pencil you like. We refer to graphite as "hard" or "soft". Hard can be good for precise lines in technical drawings. Or for construction lines that you don’t want to see. Soft is nice for making more sketchy, gestural marks. One nice, soft pencil that you’ll find there for under $1 is the Ebony Pencil.
  • Pencil Sharpener – a small, cheap pencil sharpener is a handy thing to have! Knives also make great pencil sharpeners, but please be very careful! Don’t hurt yourself!
  • Paper – if at all possible, use unlined paper. At the Art Store, you could buy a small pad of paper, or some loose sheets. 8-1/2 x 11 is fine. Bigger is awesome. Smaller can be great too as it gives you a different perspective, a different frame of reference. 8-1/2 x 11 is fine, but any different size will liberate and expand your brain a little.
  • NO Erasers – You know that "friend" who’s jealous of your GF/BF and totally talks trash on them just to make you break up? Yeah, erasers are like that. Erasers are the worst kind of fake friends. They suck up to you and pretend that they only want to help and that they really care about you. Then they totally screw you over. Don’t fall for eraser’s fake smiles. They are evil. Evil. Evil. Evil. Erasers give you the false idea that there is some perfect line out there and that, well, you just failed to draw it, and so you should obliterate what you did draw and try, yet again, to achieve the one true line. OMG. So much BS. Don’t fall for it. There is no one true line. There are only collections of lines that build up to the experience of surfaces and textures. Don’t love one of your lines? Don’t destroy it! Just add more lines! Love all your lines! Allow them to work together to create volume and shape. Love your lines! Also, in case I didn’t mention it: erasers are evil.
  • Apple Pencil – if you want to draw with your Apple Pencil and your iPad, that’s cool.
a 3-Starbucks-cup illustration of the moon landing with a Starbucks cup reflected in the astronaut's visor

Blog It!

  • Post your 6 sketches
  • Was it fun? Was it frustrating? Do you like to draw? Will you ever try again?
  • Do you think if you practiced for 100 hours, or 1,000, that you would get a lot better?
  • What is your major? Can you think of any ways that simple sketching of some kind could be useful in your major?
  • Is Drawing a Language? Can drawings say things that are hard to say with words?
an illustration of textured grids that spans across 3 Starbucks cups
Yes, drawing isn’t only representational things. Drawing can also be patterns and textures!

Comments? Questions? What great art did you see, make, or experience today?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.