My comfort zone allows just this: if I use a photo for reference, I try to draw the photo exactly. I don't stylize the drawing... I don't selectively add or subtract for the sake of achieving a look. It is a tough habit to undo... but a critical skill that I imagine most art students eventually master.
We don't draw "things," we draw representations of things. So I'm learning. But it's tough to let go ... no, to loosen my death grip... of a bad habit that gives some semblance of comfort. But it doesn't feel so comfortable when I can't spontaneously create cartoon-style drawings based on photo reference material.
Well, blah blah blah. I'm rambling. So let me give you a concrete example. Today I "reversed engineered" one of Frederick Garner's sketches for a set design to Powerpuff Girls, the western episode:
Gardner probably jotted this clock tower in a few minutes.
So I set the stylus down, marveled at the simplicity and beauty of Gardner's drawing, and took the pledge. Simplicity. Aim for simplicity first, last, always.
If we seek only to achieve simplicity, then no project becomes too difficult. Doesn't that sound right? If we convey the simplest of shapes, of lines, of concepts, then no drawing is beyond our ability. Because our rendering is simplicity in itself. Ommmmm.... study your navel. It's starting to make sense.
And if that's our philosophy, that in our hands every drawing becomes simple, then we should be able to draw just about anything. Wouldn't you agree? I mean, we should be able to jot out a sketch of... of... oh, I dunno... say Buckingham Palace!... with ease.