• Rose-Marie Marshall-Jane

Step away from the Grids and nobody gets hurt.

You should not use grids. Simple as. No argument, no discussions. NUH-UH.

Why? You may ask. It's simple.

Grids are fine if you want to create an exact replica of a photo (or as exact as you can make it) without any soul or artistic flair. Grids do not give you freedom and in art, you need freedom. Art is freedom. Who wants to copy an exact replica of someone else's photo or artwork? You should be making your own, your own interpretation of art! Plus, think of all the skills you achieve without using grids. Grids make an artist lose the soul of a piece, they lose the heart and the little errors that make the art, art.

When you put in the search engine Google when did the grid method begin it says 15th century. Which I think is rather surprising. I expected the grid method to be a easy 1900s invention, or even a little later when art was all pop arty. I get it for large frescos and wall pieces because unless you keep stepping back from it every five minutes you won't be able to properly asses the proportions. After a little more digging, one of my favourite artists, Van Gogh, used a type of grid method in some of his paintings called the Perspective Frame. You may think I'd change my tune or it would show me as a bit of a hypocrite.

Ugh, she doesn't like grids but one of her favourite artists drew with a grid. What a hypocrite!

Just because ol' Vincent my pal did it doesn't mean I will. And neither should you just because another artist did.

Perspective Frame

Using a perspective frame is a little different from drawing from a grid. Van Gogh would set up his subject and use his perspective frame to determine the best composition.

When it comes to basic art skills you should be learning to draw with out a grid. If you've relied upon them in the past then it will be difficult to break this habit but you must do it! Free yourself from the restrictions of grids, the plain copying of another's work, loosen your art and discover your artistic flair. Who care's if there are little errors. That's art baby.

I know there will be many stubborn artists (we've all been one at one point or another) that will snub me because of my opinions on drawing grids and why you shouldn't use them. Trust me, it happens a lot on the few Facebook art groups I'm on. If someone mentions they don't like grids they end up getting abuse from a few die-hards* saying this artist uses it so I do too, you should use it to make your art better, you're not an artist if you don't use grids. Come on peeps, that's not what artists should be like. Fair is fair, each to their own.

But... Art is freedom to create, freedom to explore.

"I like painting because it gives me total freedom. It's the only place in my whole life that I've had total freedom to do anything that I wanted to do, to create an illusion that I needed, to go to any world that was desirable" - Bob Ross, the master of little happy trees.

I don't care what some may say or think, in my opinion grids and straight lines do not give you freedom.

Let's change the subject slightly from grids to lines, specifically straight lines drawn with rulers.

Rulers are great aren't they? Drawing triangles and squares in Maths with a ruler, getting that perfect straight line unless the person next to you nudges your elbow and you have to start again. As long as you have a ruler you can draw a straight line, yes?

A big fat no.


Yesterday's art class was about perspective and we were drawing a pathway up through a garden. Yvonne commented and praised on one particular student's straight lines. She'd previously had a hard time drawing straight lines, yet now she said "Thank you, I've been practicing"

Cue heart warming, proud moment.

Practice does make perfect. Determination and repetition will get your once wonky lines much, much straighter. You can do it!

Using rulers, just like grids will take away the skill to draw lines that as artists you really should have. It's about seeing, observation and interpretation. You have to study your reference first and observe the lines, straight and curved. The angles, perspective and shapes. Often I say shapes but shapes are not grids, they are proportions. As my wonderful diagram below will show.


Shaped out

As you can see, observing the reference as a series of shapes can and will help you have a better understanding of perspective and proportions.

It does in the end come down to skill and whether you want to learn these skills or not. If you can spend the time observing your angles and shapes to learn not to use grids and rulers then your skills as an artist will drastically improve. You'll feel much better about your art and you will begin to create you're own art with your own interpretation, own style and artistic flair. Rather than a straight copy.

Isn't that what we as artists what to achieve? Uniqueness?

So, get yourself a nice picture like a pretty flower or an eye, put on some inspiring music (like Eye of the Tiger) and start by studying and observing your picture. Notice the shapes, the lines and the angles. Once you're ready start to draw, allow your own judgement to guide you and practice. You might not get it right the first time but rarely people do, don't be discouraged. You can do it my fellow artists!

*Sorry all die-hard grid fans.