Drawing Theory - All Lessons - All Exercises - Student Art

Approach: Drawing is a skill and like any skill there are those who have talent at it, but it also can be learned through practice. Liken it to playing a sport. If you rushed onto the soccer field without knowing the rules and never having a couch explain to you strategy, you may be able to figure out what to do by watching others, but you are at a great disadvantage. And yet this is how most people approach art. They expect to get in front of the goal and kick the ball in their first time trying. But there are challenges you must learn to face and there are methods to do it. When you set yourself up to draw, realize that you are only practicing; this is training and the outcome is about getting better, not producing a piece of work. Eventually you may be ready to go into the game, but take the pressure off of yourself and you will be more free to relax and do your best without unrealistic expectations.

Drawing is not about realistic representation of the world around you. We have photography for that. What makes something art is the successful communication of a concept or subject as the artist sees it to others. Learning to draw a likeness is only one style of art, and not always the best form of communication, but for an artist to gain control of his or her ability, it is the first place to begin when training. Just as learning to watch the ball so as to control it while you run comes before learning fancy ways to kick it in the net you must start by learning to see your subject and control your pencil.

Now that you have your mind in the right place… on to theory.

Theory: The most important thing to learn about drawing something that you see is that it is more about seeing than it is what your hand does with the pencil on the paper. If you can write your name, you have learned enough control of the pencil to copy a representation. What most often stops someone from drawing a subject that is not abstract like a letter is not being able to objectify the subject, or another way to put it is to break the object you are drawing up into lines, curves and angles. When an artist learns to do this, anything can be drawn… because all shapes, figures and subjects contain five basic shapes, which everyone can draw.

Mona Brookes created a SHAPE CHART that maps out the basic shapes of every object imaginable. Look around you and see what shapes you can find. For instance, your computer screen is made up of lines and angles. Perhaps there is a curve along the bottom. Now look at this PHOTO and DRAWING comparison. The face is made up of lines, curves and angles. Here is a more complicated example. If you can write your name, you already know how to copy abstract. Once you learn to see the abstract lines in the subjects you are drawing, you will be well on your way.

Because learning to see is part of drawing, the key to learning to draw is drawing what you see. This seems to be a given, except that more often than not, people who say they can't draw believe they must draw from memory to be an artist. It is the most prevalent myth that discourages people from drawing. Certainly some people have very good memories and can draw without looking at their subject matter, but they have also most likely been practicing for a long time to be able to do that. As in writing your name and learning letters, you can do it now with out copying it, but when you were a child first learning you had to look at the letter chart to memorize what they looked like. You learned to see them before you learned to write them.

Practice: When starting to write or play a sport, everyone must practice, which means doing an exercise over and over again. It trains your muscles and it trains your eyes. The same thing is true with drawing. Even the masters like Renoir and Michealangelo drew their subjects many times before beginning their final product. As a beginning artist, you must expect that you will need to do the same. As someone who has been teaching art for over five years, I can guarantee if you draw the same subject five times, studying what you did to look for ways to improve it each time, you will excel and see major results. Draw it ten times and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

When you practice drawing, you must be looking at what you are drawing more than the paper and constantly comparing what lines you have drawn to what lines you see in the subject. When practicing, do this freely and without pressure. It doesn't need to be perfect, but you should attempt to make it close.

Drawing Theory - All Lessons - All Exercises - Student Art