The first thing I do when beginning a drawing is to locate important landmarks using my view-finder and a thin knitting needle. For more information on how I use them and other tools for measuring, comparing and locating, see .

Above is my first shot at drawing the basket. After I finished it, I saw that the ellipse at the top was too wide, and the width of the basket was too wide for its height. I corrected those errors, then decided to calculate the correct ellipses for the top and bottom of the basket. I figured out the angles of the ellipses using string and a protractor (see for an explanation), then transferred them to my drawing using tracing paper rubbed on the back with pencil.

I was struggling trying to get the correct shapes of the handles. I was more successful after I stopped trying to make them perfectly symmetrical. The basket is wonderfully irregular! Also, the proportions of the body of the basket continued to look wrong to me. My measuring methods were not agreeing with each other. Sometimes that happens, and I have no idea why. Finally, I had to go with what my eyes were seeing!

Above, I’ve begun to indicate the position of the large bamboo strips. I know from my last basket drawing experience that if I don’t get this part right, everything that follows is wrong!

Now it was time to draw the box and then the bowl. Before I began, I had to figure out where my vanishing point was, so that I could draw the box in perspective. I could just copy the angles that I saw without finding the vanishing point, but if I have an actual vanishing point marked on my board, it’d be much easier to just draw the correct lines converging on it with a ruler than to rely on my eyes. The vanishing point is wherever my eye is. It’s not hard to figure out the correct height (my eye level when sitting on my chair), but it’s hard to pinpoint the correct position on the horizontal plane, especially since we have binocular vision and a dominant eye.

I’ve found the easiest way is to hold up two rulers in front of me, each lining up with a receding line in the composition and see where they meet. This is the vanishing point! I note this spot on the wall with a piece of tape. You can see it in the above photo over the top of the rice paper. You can see that all of the lines in the composition that are perpendicular to the front plane would meet at this point if continued upward. (The photo has some distortions due to parallax, so this effect can only be seen for the lines at the bottom of the composition.) I then locate the equivalent spot on my paper. Often, it is above my paper, so I mark it with a piece of tape on my easel. Now, drawing receding lines in correct perspective is easy, as they all should converge on this spot.

Since I move a round a lot as I draw, sometimes the vanishing point I’ve marked doesn’t produce lines in the exact places and at the angles I wanted them. I might end up moving the point a bit to get the most pleasing angles.

Next, I drew the bowl. For now, I just eye-balled the ellipse at the top.

I saw that I drew the bowl too far over to the right, so I moved it over to the left. I saw that in moving it, I got the shape wrong. Both sides did not have the same curve. I remedied this by tracing the correct side onto a piece of tracing paper, being careful to mark the position of the center line. I then flipped the tracing paper over, lining up the center line and traced over the curved line to produce a mirror image on the other side. (The graphite from the original line acted was transferred to the paper.) This is my go-to method for achieving symmetry.

I started to indicate the general location and shape of the nest. It’s a very loosely-defined object, so it’s difficult to draw precisely! A lot of the drawing will have to take place later on the canvas with paint brushes.

I drew some of the reflections and patterns on the bowl, but reflections can be tricky to see, and I usually end up re-seeing and drawing these as I paint.

Next, I think I’ll tackle the weave of the basket!