Sep 30, 2009

Why are we afraid to pick up a pencil?

Are you one of the millions who would like to draw but can't? Is one of the reasons you are afraid that you will be laughed at if your try? Maybe your afraid that you may be criticized by your loved ones? Well you more than likely will be...but that should in no way stop you from trying.
Plus the criticism is often personal and has nothing to do with your skills what so ever.
Speaking from experience, I know how devastating it can be to work on something for hours only to have someone tell you it is not very good. They often are pretentious idiots that know nothing about art. So you just have to let it go and keep going.
Never let anyone tell you what your 'should" draw,just draw what you like and what you care most about. By doing this you will probably draw the same thing time and again and this will make it easier to see your mistakes each time and it will get better and better each time you draw it.
When I started out the only formal instruction I had ever had was the 3 years in my high school art class. We didn't have paints then but we did learn how to draw. Later on when I got more serious about my art I went to the library and got as many books on drawing as I could carry.
The more you read the faster you will move along with your drawing skills.
I found that most books were about the same, differing in how things were presented and how the authors styles looked different. Also some were easier to understand because the artist had a knack of explain himself and showing great demonstrations. Now I own several and one of my very favorite books on drawing is How to Draw what you See by Rudy de Reyna which still can be found on Amazon, even some used editions are available.
Read, study and draw and eventually it i will become a part of you. Learn all the tricks of artists that is available online, pay more attention to the style you like and soon you will be drawing with ease.
Visit your local craft or art store and pick up an acid free sketchbook and some pencils and charcoals. I have some drawings I did years ago on bad paper and they are now yellowed, they were good drawings but now they are ruined. So be sure to use acid-free paper.

Start with the cheapest scrounged materials for practice, but also get a sketchbook that has actual acid-free drawing paper. Even early on you can . There's a free site that offers comprehensive and deep lessons that is as
good as any college course and better than many. is a website set up by F&W Publications, which owns North Light Books and several good artist magazines -- Watercolor Magic, The Artist's Magazine and The Pastel Journal.

The classrooms are incredible -- often authors of good art books hold classes online there at every level. It's a lot like art college but free. As a community it's tremendously warm and helpful. the offer 101 classes some harder than others but if you are serious I strongly suggest you take the time to work through the classes.

Go slow through those 101 classes, you will have genuine social support in the drawing and painting forums by subject or medium. The community is very good for that. You can get help with anything that goes wrong in a drawing and you'll improve faster than you ever thought you could as you understand the tricks. They really are tricks. Art is a matter of a lot of separate skills most of which involve learning to see, so make an effort to
pay attention to what you see.
Every time we open our eyes we are inundated by massive amounts of
information. To stay sane we filer what's coming in so we don't get distracted by shapes and colors. If an artist wants to draw a subject they will filter out these things so they can see a lot more details.
We are are wired to work hard at something important to us and try repeatedly in sustained effort, then get some social recognition for our efforts.
Draw something everyday! some will be bad and some good, but any small success deserves a pat on the back, you are drawing. Fill that sketchbook!

Leonard da Vinci suggested that anyone who wants to draw well should go through a sketchbook a month. And this was a 100 page sketchbook!
Now remember that you are an "artist" your not just wanting to be one.

You don't need to pay to go to college to call yourself a student, you're taking online classes and learning the real skill, right?
Be aware of setting high expectations of yourself, keep them realistic. Don't become a perfectionist.
If your latest drawings are better than the last ones, be happy you are improving. Every day you draw you will find so many little discoveries and if you take the time to date your work you will be able to see how far you have come.
You will have turned into a person who can't draw to one who can.
Once on a trip with my 4 year old niece handed me a pad of paper and said "draw a cow" well this happens often, people assume you can draw anything without a reference.
Yet most realists will be able to draw pretty much anything from a photo reference or looking at the real thing doing but without these even a skilled artist who makes thousands of dollars a painting couldn't do it -- and would get stumped on things that aren't in their usual repertory. So on with my story, I was stumped I had never been around cows so I didn't really have a clue but I gave it a try, I handed it back to her and believe me it didn't look much like a cow, she looked up at me and said "I thought you were an artist"!

So the lesson here is to draw your favorite things and place. The ones that are fun to draw. The things you like in pictures, the things that you have in your life.
Learning to filter what you see as artists do will make everything in the world more beautiful. You learn to appreciate reality in ways that most people don't, and that leads to a better, happier life.
Sharon Teal-Coray

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