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How to get good at drawing (and find pleasure in practice)

4 min read

How to get good at drawing (and find pleasure in practice)
Being good at drawing isn't everything, but it does help to see yourself getting better at your hobby. With practice and patience, unleash your inner Picasso
Drawing is not just about putting pencil to paper; it is a gateway to a world of creativity, expression and imagination. Whether you are an aspiring da Vinci or simply looking to learn a new skill, this guide is your artistic roadmap to unlock the magic of drawing.
So, grab your sketchbook, don your beret (optional) and let's embark on a whimsical journey to discover the artist within.

Your artistic arsenal

The first step on your drawing journey is to arm yourself with the right tools. There is no need to splurge on a set of quality supplies right from the get go. Rather, use what you already have and are comfortable with, even if it is that one pencil from sixth form.
If you are looking to take drawing seriously and invest in some high-quality arsenal, however, a variety of leads, from 2H to 6B, will give you a range of line thickness and shading options. As for paper, go for a sturdy sketchbook with acid-free pages to ensure your masterpieces stand the test of time. 

Start simple 

Don't feel pressured to dive straight into complex compositions. Start by mastering simple shapes. Circles, squares and triangles are the building blocks of more intricate drawings. Just like learning to walk before you run, this foundational step will give you the confidence to tackle more elaborate subjects. 
"Most objects are simply a combination of various basic shapes"
When you feel ready to take things to the next level, combine different shapes and see where that leads you. You’d be surprised to find out that most objects are simply a combination of various basic shapes. 

Observation is key 

Sketch drawing of apples sitting on easel
Creating lifelike art requires more than just technical skill; it demands a keen eye for detail and a passion for observation.
Everyday objects are your best teachers. Grab your sketchbook and focus on items you encounter regularly, such as an apple, a coffee cup or even your pet goldfish. 
As you study these subjects, pay close attention to their intricacies—the play of light and shadow, the precise proportions and the subtle nuances that make them unique. In a sense, you become a detective with your sketchbook, uncovering the mysteries of the world around you.
Even your pet goldfish won't mind being the "sketchy" character in your artistic adventure; they may just become your most patient muse.

Practice, patience and perseverance 

The path to artistic mastery is paved with practice, patience and perseverance. Remember, the greatest artists in history weren’t born with a pencil in their fingers; they honed their craft through dedication and hard work.
Drawing is a journey, not a destination, and it is in the process where true growth occurs. 
Set aside dedicated time for practice frequently and allow yourself the space to make mistakes. Don't be discouraged by these errors; they are the "happy little accidents" that Bob Ross famously embraced in his paintings.
"Drawing is a journey, not a destination"
Every smudge, misdrawn line and unexpected blot can be a stepping stone towards improvement.
With time and tenacity, you will be amazed at how quickly your skills evolve. As you embrace the three "P's," you will find that the journey itself is just as rewarding as the destination.

Learn from the greats 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, sketch of Joan Morris
Art transcends time and space; it doesn't exist in isolation but builds upon the legacy of those who came before.
Immerse yourself in the wealth of artistic history: visit museums, dive into art books and explore the vast expanse of online resources, including YouTube channels that specialise in teaching entry-level drawing. 
Learning from other artists serves as an endless well of inspiration and knowledge. Their works provide insight into different techniques, styles and interpretations of the world.
Try taking drawings and paintings that resonate with you and putting your own spin on it. By standing on the shoulders of artistic giants, you will find your own artistic voice to propel your creative exploration forward.

Drawing outside the box 

If you are still feeling stuck or lost on your artistic path, consider these unorthodox approaches to unlock your creativity juices and watch your art come to life: 
  • Blind contour drawing: Draw without looking at your paper, focusing solely on the subject and letting your hand follow the contours of the object. This exercise not only removes the stress of perfection, but it can also help develop better hand-eye coordination and a deeper connection with your subject.
  • Coffee or tea stains: Experiment with using coffee or tea stains as your drawing medium. These natural pigments can create unique textures and shades, and they add an element of unpredictability to your artwork. 
  • Non-dominant hand drawing: Challenge yourself by drawing with your non-dominant hand. This exercise can lead to a fresh, more abstract perspective and helps you break away from perfectionism.
  • Doodle challenges: Join online doodle challenges that come with daily prompts, forcing you to think creatively within set boundaries. This is a great way to develop consistency and discover new subject matters.
  • Time-limited sketches: Set a timer for a short period and attempt to complete a drawing within that time frame. The constraint forces you to make quick decisions and can lead to surprisingly spontaneous and expressive artwork.
  • Word-to-picture association: Take a random word or phrase and try to represent it visually, even if it is abstract or challenging. This exercise can help you think outside the box and develop your symbolic drawing skills.
Now that you have got the inside scoop on how to get into drawing, it is time to christen your sketchbook and get that pencil moving, one stroke at a time.
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