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How to Draw: You don't have to wait to be 'good' start having fun!

Hi my lovely creative people,

Are you a budding artist eager to embark on your drawing journey? It's no secret that the world of drawing can feel overwhelming for beginners. Six years ago, I took the plunge myself, and it's been a captivating adventure filled with both triumphs and setbacks.

I like to teach people that the journey of learning how to draw can be fun from the very start. Experiment with materials, play with colour! Don't wait wait until you are 'good' at drawing to start using fun materials and play!

This post aims to be your guide, drawing on my experiences to provide valuable insights, resources, and practical advice. We'll delve into the essential tools, hone core skills, and explore helpful resources to equip you for success. By sharing my initial stumbles, we can steer you clear of common pitfalls and accelerate your artistic growth. Let's unravel the mysteries of drawing together!

This is what we'll cover:

  • Demystifying the Artistic Talent Myth: We'll dismantle the misconception of innate artistic talent and encourage a growth mindset for learning to draw.

  • Building Your Artistic Arsenal: Explore essential drawing tools like pencils, paper, erasers, and sharpeners, with recommendations for beginners.

  • Essential Drawing Techniques: Master the fundamental building blocks of drawing, including lines, shapes, shading, perspective, and composition.

  • Practice Makes Perfect:  Discover tips and strategies to make your practice sessions effective and maximise your artistic growth.

  • Finding Inspiration Everywhere: Explore various sources of inspiration to fuel your creativity and keep your artistic wellspring flowing.

  • Common Beginner Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them): Learn from the author's experiences to avoid common pitfalls and accelerate your artistic journey.

  • Beyond the Basics:  Delve into additional resources and techniques to take your drawing skills to the next level.

Perhaps it ignited a yearning within you, a whisper of "I wish I could do that." Well, guess what? You can! Drawing is a universal language, a skill waiting to be unlocked within everyone, regardless of age or artistic background. It's a gateway to self-discovery, a platform for creative expression, and a journey filled with the joy of bringing ideas to life. But like embarking on any new adventure, the initial steps can feel daunting. Where do you even begin?

This blogpost is your roadmap to embarking on your artistic expedition. We'll dispel the myths surrounding artistic talent, explore the tools you'll need to equip your creative arsenal, and provide actionable tips to get your pencil moving. We'll delve into the importance of consistent practice, the art of overcoming challenges, and the endless wellspring of inspiration that awaits you.

Shattering the Myth of Artistic Talent: Embrace the Growth Mindset

One of the biggest roadblocks for aspiring artists is the misconception that artistic ability is an innate gift, bestowed upon the chosen few. You either have "the talent" or you don't, right? Wrong! Artistic ability is a developed skill, much like learning a new language or mastering a musical instrument. The key ingredient? Dedication and consistent practice. The more you draw, the more comfortable you'll become with your tools, the more you'll refine your techniques, and the more your artistic voice will emerge.

So, ditch the idea that you need to be a prodigy to create art. Embrace the "growth mindset" – the belief that your skills and abilities can be developed through effort and practice. Focus on the joy of the process, the satisfaction of seeing your skills improve over time, and the thrill of creating something new with each stroke of your pencil.

Gathering Your Artistic Arsenal: Tools for Creative Exploration

Now that you've shed the talent myth, let's talk about the tools you'll need to bring your artistic vision to life. The good news is that you don't need to invest a fortune to get started. Here's a basic toolkit that will equip you for artistic exploration:

  • Pencils: Pencils are the gateway to the world of drawing. They offer versatility and control, allowing you to create light and dark tones, experiment with shading for depth, and easily erase mistakes. Start with a range of HB (hardness-blackness) grades, such as 2H for crisp lines, HB for versatility, and 2B for softer, darker tones.

  • Paper: Not all paper is created equal. Choose a sketchbook or drawing paper with a smooth texture that won't smudge your pencil strokes. Look for a weight of around 180gsm or higher for better durability. Consider different textures – smooth for detailed drawings, slightly textured for sketching, and even hot press for a smoother finish.

  • Eraser: A good eraser is essential for correcting mistakes and creating highlights. Opt for a vinyl eraser that removes pencil marks cleanly without damaging the paper. Kneaded erasers are also helpful for picking up unwanted charcoal or graphite smudges.

  • Sharpener: Keep your pencils sharp for clean lines and precise details. A manual sharpener is perfectly adequate, but an electric sharpener can save time if you plan on drawing for extended periods.

While the core tools we've discussed will equip you for foundational drawing, the artistic world offers a vast array of media to explore. As your confidence grows, consider venturing into the exciting realms of:

  • Watercolour: Experience the magic of washes and bleeds, creating light and airy illustrations with water-soluble pigments. Watercolour paper with a higher weight (300gsm+) is recommended for this fluid medium.

  • Gouache: Similar to watercolour, gouache offers vibrant opaque colours that can be layered and reworked. Its versatility allows you to create both light washes and more opaque, detailed areas.

  • Charcoal: Charcoal sticks offer a beautiful, expressive range for dramatic drawings. Experiment with blending techniques using your fingers or stumps (blending tools) to create smooth transitions and depth.

  • Oil Pastels: Explore a world of rich, vibrant color with oil pastels. Their blendability allows for smooth transitions, while their waxy texture offers unique textural effects on your artwork.

Remember, this is just a glimpse into the vast world of artistic media. Experiment, have fun, and discover what resonates with your artistic vision!

I often work in mixed media and I teach my students that mixing and matching your materials is fun from the very beginning of your artistic journey. You don't have to have to stick with one medium if you enjoy adding others of if you find it easier to archive an effect by using another material.

Consider adding:

  • Drawing pens: Fine-tipped pens like micron pens are ideal for creating clean lines and detailed illustrations.

  • Charcoal sticks: Charcoal offers a beautiful, expressive range of values for creating dramatic drawings.

  • Coloured pencils: Explore a vibrant world of color with artist-grade colored pencils that offer superior blending capabilities.

  • Different paper textures: Experiment with different paper textures like watercolour paper for mixed-media artwork or toned paper for a unique base tone.

Remember, your tools are simply an extension of your creative vision. Don't get bogged down in acquiring the "perfect" set-up. Start with what you have and focus on the joy of creating.

Laying the Foundation: Essential Drawing Techniques for Beginners

Before diving into complex portraits or landscapes, it's important to master some fundamental drawing techniques. These building blocks will serve as the foundation for all your future artistic endeavours.

Its ok if your drawings are a bit wonky in the beginning, just keep practicing and draw things that give you joy, even if they don't look perfect!

  • Lines: Lines are the basic elements of drawing. Practice drawing straight lines, curved lines, and lines of varying thickness. Experiment with different drawing motions, using your shoulder for sweeping lines, your elbow for more controlled lines, and your wrist for intricate details.

  • Shapes: Lines come together to form shapes. Start by practicing basic geometric shapes like squares, circles, triangles, and rectangles. Then, progress to more organic shapes like ovals, teardrops, and spirals. These shapes form the building blocks of objects in the real world, so mastering them will strengthen your ability to draw anything you see.

  • Shading: Shading adds depth and dimension to your drawings. It creates the illusion of light and shadow, giving your subjects a sense of realism. Practice different shading techniques like hatching (parallel lines close together), cross-hatching (lines at different angles), and stippling (tiny dots). Experiment with the pressure you apply to your pencil to create different values – lighter strokes for highlights and darker strokes for shadows.

  • Perspective: Perspective allows you to create the illusion of depth on a flat surface. One-point perspective is a great starting point for beginners. Imagine yourself standing on a train track that stretches infinitely into the distance. The train tracks (lines converging at a single point on the horizon) and the telephone poles lining the tracks (becoming smaller as they recede) are examples of one-point perspective in action. Understanding perspective will help you draw realistic landscapes, buildings, and even objects at different angles.

  • Composition: Composition is the arrangement of elements in your drawing. It's how you visually organise the elements on your paper to create a pleasing and engaging artwork. Consider using the rule of thirds, which divides your paper into a 3x3 grid. Placing your subject at one of the intersections or along the lines can create a more balanced composition. Experiment with negative space (the empty areas around your subject) to add visual interest and guide the viewer's eye through your drawing.

These are just a few of the fundamental techniques you'll explore as you learn to draw. There are many resources available online and in libraries to delve deeper into these concepts. Practice drawing simple objects from different angles and perspectives, focusing on these techniques. Gradually increase the complexity of your subjects as you gain confidence. Remember, the most important thing is to have fun and enjoy the process of learning!

If you want to practice in a fun and supportive environment, have a look at the Makings and Musings Creative community here. We draw together on zoom every week!

Beyond the Basics: Expanding Your Artistic Horizons

Once you've mastered the fundamentals, you can explore a variety of drawing techniques to further enhance your skills. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Blending: Use blending tools like stumps or tortillions to smooth out harsh lines and create soft transitions between tones. This technique is particularly effective with charcoal and soft graphite pencils.

  • Gesture Drawing: Capture the essence of a pose or movement with quick, loose sketches. This helps you focus on the overall form and movement of your subject rather than getting bogged down in details.

  • Value Studies: Create drawings solely focused on light and shadow values, using different shades of pencil to depict the subject without relying on outlines. This exercise refines your ability to see and represent light and shadow effectively.

  • Stippling and Hatching Variations: Experiment with different hatching and stippling techniques. Vary the spacing, direction, and pressure of your lines to create different textures and effects.

Remember, this is just the beginning of your artistic journey. As you develop your skills, you'll discover countless techniques and media to explore. Embrace the learning process, experiment with different approaches, and most importantly, have fun expressing your creativity through drawing!

Have fun and let me know if you have any topics you want to know about underneath!


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