In the Olden Days before digital devices the art schools would start students off drawing with charcoal and cheap paper. BIG bits of cheap paper. There is no better way to demystify the process. However, if you don`t want to tape a roll of lining paper to your wall and attack it for hours with a stick of charred willow and a putty rubber, you will probably start with a pencil.... and here are some tips
1. Materials: Pencils should be marked to show how hard they are. Incidentally, pencils are made of graphite, not lead, so if you see Graphite Drawing on something it`s just a pencil. H pencils are hard. Soft pencils - just to keep you guessing - are marked with a B. The higher the number, the softer or harder. So 9B is incredibly soft, and 2B is fairly soft. HB pencils are used for writing and are ubiquitous but not good for drawing as a rule. H pencils are usually reserved for technical drawing where you need a very narrow, precise line. Paper comes in all textures and weights. Find the one you like. I like very smooth, heavy paper, others like rougher surfaces. Use a putty rubber - otherwise known as a kneadable eraser. This is like blu-tac but starts off white. It swiftly goes black as it picks up the graphite. Work it in your fingers to soften it, shape it, draw with it - it is more than a method of correction. And keep your pencils sharpened. I use inexpensive sharpeners and throw them away when they go blunt.
2. Experiment with marks. The first picture above is a sketch using a very soft pencil, where I have smudged it with my finger to get the shading, and also used it flat to get a broken surface. In the secont I have used lines and blocks of dark to indicate form. In the third I have added white pen and coloured pencil to vary the effects. You will find what you like to use and how - but keep yourself open to new materials and ideas.
3. How to Draw: The secret is..... you draw. Every day if you can. Doodle, sketch, play and design. No-one would expect a child to be able to write before he learned how to. So why do you expect to be able to draw without learning how? And learning means making mistakes and trying again! Have fun.
Centuries ago a man in China wrote `Stop thinking and your problems will end....regard the world like a babe`. The Tao Teh Ching is (partly) about letting go, about allowing yourself to respond.
Watercolour is a medium you have to partner, not one you can dictate to. This is why when teaching I attempt to get students to play - to paint without expectations.
Next time you paint, see where the paint wants to go and work from there. This will not be one to put on the wall or post on social media (although it may turn out that way). Paint for the fun of it.
Take an autumn leaf and observe the colours. Drop those colour onto your paper. Tip it, spray it, lift and salt.
Now try again using a clear wax crayon to mark the shape of the leaf.
I do this workshop every year around this time. Every time it is different, inspiring... and playful. Explore what you can do when you let the colour flow.