The Wheels on the Bus

“The wheels on the bus go round and round…” Who hasn’t sung that song?

Yes, the wheels of the bus — or the bike, the car, or the truck — do go round and round, unless, of course, I’m the one drawing them, in which case they’re flat, misshapen, too big, too small, or in some other way totally incapable of going “round and round”. You saw that yesterday, no doubt, in my crazy, scribbled attempts at drawing a few vehicles. Today’s “daily drawing” practice — taken from Barrington Barber’s 10-weeks of drawing lessons — was even more comical.

The assignment was to draw a bicycle. This immediately made me think of a drawing exercise I came across somewhere years before. It, too, was an assignment to draw a bicycle, but instead of looking at an actual bicycle or a photo, we were supposed to draw from memory. The point being that even the most familiar objects can be difficult to draw unless we’re looking at them.

By the way, a fun article here shows a few of these “drawn from memory” bicycles brought to life!

Just for fun, give it a try. Grab a pencil and paper, and from memory, draw a bicycle. Really, we’ve all seen bicycles. We’ve ridden them. We’ve probably taught our children or grandchildren to ride them. We know what a bicycle looks like, right? But without a good reference, we probably can’t draw a bicycle very accurately. Even with a good reference, I still can’t draw a bike too accurately, and no, I’m not going to show you my scribbles from that particular drawing practice.

I seem to have priorities and preferences when it comes to graphite drawing, I’ve noticed. I enjoy drawing landscapes, especially trees. Other natural features — rocks, mountains, clouds, lakes — come next. Then come natural, living things. I enjoy drawing plants and flowers. Next on my list would be — believe it or not — animals. We’ll start with birds. I’ve drawn enough birds over the years that I can do them reasonably well. And then, cats, or at least, cats’ faces. Dogs and other animals are next on the list of things I enjoy drawing. I’ve been pleased with the progress I’ve made in drawing animals of all sorts. Facial features and the human form would probably be next. I enjoy drawing them but find them challenging.

Moving on down my list of drawing preferences, we come to “man-made structures”, and here is where I start to shudder a bit. I’m not good with perspective. While I’ve done a few bridges and barns and other architectural drawings, I don’t really enjoy them so much. And continuing with man-made objects, we come to all things mechanical, all those things like trains, trams, airplanes, and any sort of machinery. Now, if you browse through this blog, you’ll find a few drawings that fit in this category, like the Turkish tram or the set of gears. I completed these drawings, but they’re not among my favorites.

I think enjoyment is a key aspect in drawing — especially with graphite. A good drawing requires a considerable investment of time and effort, and quite honestly, I’m not willing to make that investment in a subject that I don’t find artistically appealing. Not to say that man-made objects can’t be good subjects for a work of art. Sure they can. They’re just not good subjects for me. I find more beauty and interest in the natural things I love rather than in precise, man-made nuts, bolts, gears, and machinery.

Even so, it’s helpful to practice drawing — or sketching — all sorts of subjects. That includes cars, trucks, bicycles, and yes, buses with wheels that go round and round. In drawing vehicles, I quickly noticed, it’s not so much the vehicle itself that gives me fits. It’s those wheels, the tires, those things that are supposed to go round and round. And so, instead of fussing and fretting too much about the bike I tried to draw — which wasn’t pretty — I spent a lot of my morning drawing time looking at wheels and proverbially kicking a few tires.

I found a lot of good instruction online.

From a straight-on view, it’s fairly simple really, especially if you have a circle template. This kids’ coloring page shows just how easy it is to draw the wheel of a car.



But then, it gets a bit trickier as we move about and look at the car, truck, bicycle, or other vehicle from a slightly different proportion. Now, our circles become ellipses, and we all know how challenging they can be!

Judging from the amount of information available online, vehicles must be among the most popular drawing subjects around. I choose not to draw them unless I have to as part of an assignment or lesson plan I’m following, but again, it’s good practice.

Here are a few of the online instruction sites I found while browsing this morning:

25 Wheel Challenge

How to Draw Tires Step by Step

Drawing Wheels in Perspective

Drawing Wheels – Art Now and Then

In addition to these how-to articles, there are many video tutorials available, ranging from simple steps — like this one below — to highly detailed “how-to” instruction.

Another fun aspect of today’s drawing practice was looking at line drawings of buses. I had fun going through pages of different images and seeing how many different ways a bus can be drawn. But, that’s a topic for another post on a different day. I picked one very simple line drawing to illustrate this post.

Honestly, this is about as complicated and detailed as I want to get with my vehicle drawings. I want drawing to be fun, and when it comes to vehicles… well, folks, it’s just not all that much fun to me unless I keep it simple. Very simple. Now, back to my drawing practice for the day.

“The Wheels on the Bus go round and round, round and round, round and round, all through the town.”


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