How many limiting thoughts we carry with ourselves our entire life? Why don’t prove them wrong?
Feeling like you can’t draw is one of the most common limiting conception among artists.
I mean, how many times we just sit in front of a blank sheet and thought “I don’t know how to draw. I can’t do it.” This is probably what stops most artist to pursue their art career, or keep drawing at all. We all think that the ability to draw is linked to innate talent of some sort of gift from the Gods, but I got some good news for you: that’s bullshit.
Drawing is a skill reached through experience and practice; the word itself “skill” is defined as “the ability, coming from one’s knowledge, practice, experience, etc., to do something well”. I don’t think a single person woke up in the morning and heard a voice from Olympus telling them “Uh, good morning! From today you will finally have the divine privilege of knowing how to draw!”
It.. just doesn’t work precisely like that.
There’s no talent needed when you can reach it; only discipline and will to learn.
I always loved drawing, but during my first years of high school I felt like I couldn’t at all. I thought I chose the wrong school, the wrong path and believed in the wrong future. All this just because I felt like I wasn’t able to draw (and to learn it, of course).
I drew my whole life, and I always heard: “You have a talent, you are born to be an artist”. But unfortunately my drawings, after years of practice already, still looked like this:
This is how I used to draw portraits in 2017, during my first year of Art High School. Someone actually liked ’em (don’t ask me how) but I felt unsatisfied and frustrated any time I looked at them.
| So, what to do?
After complaining (a lot) I decided to just try to draw a little bit more often, without expecting to be Da Vinci the day after. I started drawing only to learn and I tried to just enjoy the process (that is not taken for granted when you study in an Art School, unfortunately).
This is how my portraits look now in 2021 (still not Da Vinci.. but at least the situation improved):
Did school help? Mhh, no. Did the Olympians help? I don’t think so. It was just a matter of time, practice and of having the right attitude towards your learning path: see it as a necessary procedure to achieve your skills, not just as a difficult path that will teach you nothing at the end. Learn to enjoy the process.
Having said that, is now time to try to build a drawing routine, and work on your art more and more until you finally see your results!
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| Exercises to improve your drawing skills
Take a slice of your time every day and focus on these exercises. Anyone can do them, from the very beginner to the artist that just needs to practice and remaining in “good shape”; also, you can choose any time and place to practice.
| Warm up doodling simple shapes
This is usually recommended even to professional artists and people who are already used to draw. Before starting a drawing session is always a good idea to make some warm up. It will prepare your hands and wrist to draw and also, the more you sketch, the more ideas might come into your mind. Doodling helps you get familiar with the new tools you’re learning to use as well. One of my teachers always told me to avoid staying still if I had no ideas; at least it was worth start setting some random shapes. It felt like ideas came by themselves at one point.
| Try a theme a day
Deciding what to draw with a white empty sheet in front of you, is difficult even for artists sometimes. But picking a random theme, or choosing a theme we haven’t practiced on yet, could be really helpful. In this example, I decided to take “Cats” as a theme because it’s one of my weaknesses when it comes to drawing! I usually prefer drawing portraits, because I feel confident doing them; but in art, as in life, we need to push ourselves out from our comfort zone!
Once you pick a theme, do some studies: details, silhouette of the object, structure etc.
We have the privilege (or the mischance??) to have access on the internet nowadays, which is full of free and easy-to-reach informations. Youtube, for example, is a really powerful communication channel, and you can learn literally anything in there. You can find many tutorials, tips, exercises and free courses on how to learn the basics of drawing, step by step.
I learned many of the things I know trough videos (despite having attended an art school) due to their capability to go straight to the point and guide you in every move. Also, you can watch them as many times as you need, stop them and take them back later etc. This method of learning allows you to manage your time and always train, even while doing other tasks during the day.
Some examples to inspire you:
| Copy objects near you
Reproducing objects, persons and landscapes that surround ourself is a perfect way to learn. You don’t have to draw difficult or particular objects; with even the most common and simple ones you’ll be able to train more on the perspective and depth, perceiving the third dimension of what you’re drawing.
This also helps A LOT when it comes to portrait. Using only structures to build portraits can be limiting, and kinda boring after a while. Try to take a look around you: every face has its own characteristic and proportions; we are not all the same and we are not all perfectly symmetrical. Structures help a lot, and I still use them today, but sometimes you need to try loose your hands a little bit and work without their support!
Start from looking at pictures and then try to draw looking at the subject directly. It might feel difficult at first but the more you do it the more it helps!
Everything can become a tool for learning: you AirPods, a book, a table, a tree outside, you boyfriend, your mom, you cats and even yourself!
- Everyone can learn how to draw, because drawing is a skill and not a gift.
- Warm up doodling helps you getting familiar with your tools and finding ideas.
- Picking a random theme everyday can make you practice on everything, even your weaknesses.
- Youtube is a precious source when it comes to learning.
- Learn to observe the world around you and to copy it. You’ll be able to understand the perspective and the depth of the objects in your house, your office or even your town.
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