At the age of 42, I still got intimidated by the drawings parents put on the fridge that their bratty kid did. Yes, those brats were more talented than I was.
But, I finally said to myself I wanted to learn to draw. I was sick of being outdone by children. Yes, I was that bad!
So I scoured the internet for help. I came upon this one lady artist who said that if you can’t draw, draw lines and circles an hour every morning until they look good.
It took me over a month. Every day. First thing in the morning. Well, actually third thing in the morning. Coffee first, then guitar, then lines and circles. Over and over again, lines and circles.
This is key. If you can’t draw lines and circles that look good, you need to continually draw lines and circles until they look good.
Yes, that sounds boring as hell. Did I say it would be easy? I don’t remember saying that.
If you’re serious about learning how to draw, then don’t be a whiner. Just do your lines and circles over and over again until they look good. Heck, you might be able to do it in less than a month.
OK, you’ve had your coffee and spent the past month drawing lines and circles. And now they look good. Now what?
Excellent! You can move on to step two.
Buy yourself a notebook and some pencils that fit your hand comfortably. I used to used American made #2 pencils. I’d also buy those erasers that you put on top of pencils.
Then, I just drew everything and anything. That tree looks nice. That mountain is pretty cool. Hey. I like that cloud.
Then a friend will come over and I’ll ask her to smile and I’d draw her for a bit.
This year, I switched over to mechanical pencils. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you draw. Constantly.
While inside the house, I practice drawing on cheap copy paper. It’s great for drawing practice. And it’s cheap.
Outside the house, I bring a notebook and a pair of pencils everywhere. I never bring my mechanical pencil to anyone’s house though. I’m weird – very attached to that pencil.
Practice will give you technique
I draw exactly what I see. And constant practice gave me all the technique I need.
My wife retired this year. So in celebration, I took her on a Caribbean cruise.
I wake up before she does so before she woke up, I’d do my walk around the ship, then find a quiet place to draw. Every single day, I drew, even on vacation.
All you need is a sketchbook, pencils and an eraser. If you’re old school and using regular pencils, you’ll need more than one as the tip will always break off at the worst possible time.
I’m an extrovert and I love going to bars and talking to random people. Great place to bring your sketchbook.
I’m married, but if I were single, I’d bring my watercolor journal to a bar. Just start drawing in it.
People are curious. They’d want to see your work. You’d have completed watercolor doodles as well as the incomplete penciling you’re working in now. Would be a great way to meet chicks.
How good do you want to get?
Now, shading is a different story. You can easily learn how to shade via a YouTube video or a $20 book. I personally love Dover Publications because they’re cool people and have lots of art instruction books that are good.
However, I don’t shade when I draw. I do all my shading via watercolors. Plus, I never know where I’m going to put my light source until I start the painting.
Perspective? Once again, you can learn Classical perspective from a Dover book. They have books that go into intricate details.
I’ve even met hyperrealism artists who taught themselves how to draw. If you don’t know what hyperrealism is, the art literally looks like a photograph. You have to do a double take to realize it’s not.
Working with live models
If you got the money, I strongly suggest you hire live models and paint them. You can teach yourself anatomy.
I have an advantage over most artists. I used to both fight and do massage.
Fighting will teach you the body like nothing else will. I did both Muay Thai and wrestling, so I know how to really hurt someone.
No, I’m not a tough guy any more. I’m old and slow. But the knowledge is still there. I can tell you every major muscle group and I know anatomy quite well. I know which way to bend limbs if I had to break one. I also know what parts of the body will buckle with a good knee or an elbow.
I also learned how to heal. So I literally know the body hands on. If you don’t want to go to a live dissection, I strongly suggest massage class as an alternative. You get to know every muscle group, how they move, how they feel, what looks healthy, and what needs hands on love.
This translates very well to art. By the time I started using live models, I already knew the body quite well.
When I had the falling out with my previous model, Allie actually offered to model for me. Then Roxy did. So I have two very close friends modeling for me. Plus, I occasionally use other models.
I’ll see Sophia again next week. That’s her in the front of what will be a dragon. Three girls on a dragon? Why not?
Are you having fun or what?
I strongly think that once you get past that boring ass lines and circles stage, you should be having fun. I never drew the banana, apples, and grapes in a bowl. Boring as hell.
I feel like once I got past the lines and circles stage, I earned the right to enjoy drawing. Not make it an exercise.
So of course I choose live models. And fantasy art because I love fantasy.
You and I are not the same people. Find what you love to draw. And draw it.
You should never get tired of drawing if you’re drawing what you love. And I guarantee that if you keep drawing what you love, you’ll eventually get really good at it. Talent only means you have to put in 10% less hours than the rest of us. That’s all it means.
So don’t ever use lack of talent as an excuse. I don’t buy it.