How to draw in three easy steps.

Hello everyone, Happy Monday. Today I’m gonna talk to you about how to draw. It’s super easy, so get your pencil and paper and lets get started.

Step 1. Draw what you see, not what you think you see.
The first step in drawing is setting aside our assumptions, what we think we know, and consider the facts in front of us as they really are. A common rookie mistake is to forget people have foreheads where their brain box lives. They draw what they think they see. When they see a person they focus on the eyes, the nose and mouth, because when they look at a person that’s where their eyes travel to first. Artists no matter what they do have to focus on the whole, the reality of the situation, and the reality is the eyes are in the middle of your face, not at the top. Another common mistake is to draw the hair as individual strands or the eyelashes like great spiders leaping from their eyes, but if you look at someone from an average distance you don’t see individual hair, individual lashes, you see that hair likes to hang out together like a ribbon, sometimes tight and curled or long and straight. Don’t focus on the features you want, look at the whole.  First step is close your eyes, take a deep breath, and look at the whole as it is in front of you. Look at the light and how it travels or reflects off surfaces. Look at the objects as they are. When drawing from life it’s ok to measure, you can do so by holding out your arm straight and using the tip of your pencil to find the true distance between one point to another.

Step 2. Understand it’s nature
When drawing it’s important to understand how a thing is put together. When drawing people, learn anatomy. Practice drawing the skeletal structure and learn how muscles fit together. You will see that the eyes are not flat but round, and when you understand, really understand that eyes are round you will better learn to see and draw the eyes as they are. Same is true of plants, or buildings, or anything. Knowing how a plant species grows, or the differences in anatomy between species, or how a car is built will help you better see that thing for what it truly is. Knowing how light behaves on those surfaces, knowing how muscle moves and flexes under skin, knowing how the plants will focus their leaves depending on the time of day and their season.

This is true of the nature of the spirit as well. When drawing anything alive it helps to consider who it is as well as how it’s put together physically. What is the emotion of the person in front of you? What is their motivation? How are they feeling, what do they hope, dream about, wish for. It’s not necessary to create a long narrative, because in drawing you are capturing a moment, but remember you’re not just taking a photo, you are capturing a spirit as well. This applies to all things, animals have drives too and that too can be understood in the moment. The builders of things, even common things can have a spirit, or the nature of the still life has a spirit. The real trick about drawing living things or still lifes and inanimate objects, what you’re really understanding and capturing is the nature of yourself reflected in what you see. You have to ask yourself, are you reflecting your own nature or are you really understanding the nature and the emotion of the moment in front of you as it really is? Both are fine, but understanding the true nature of what you are trying to convey is important to understanding how you create. Because that will dictate the flow of your work as you grow in drawing.

Step 3. Practice
The only way to develop your ability to draw is to practice. You will not be good at the beginning, nobody is. It is important to set aside your anger and emotions, because you will get things wrong. No matter how good you get, you will always see flaws in your work. Art involves repeated and constant self examination, because the key to art is to see the truth for what it is. The truth is not always easy, because truth can mean focusing on what is wrong, and that’s uncomfortable. Nobody likes to be wrong, nobody wants to be bad at something, because if you’re bad it might mean you won’t be respected, appreciated, loved. However if we don’t acknowledge what is wrong within ourselves we can’t get better, we can’t do the work, we can’t make it right. How do we make it right? We practice. The good thing about recognizing flaws is when we see them, we can work at fixing them. The more you learn how to draw, the better you will learn to see the world in front of you for what it is, (or what it can be, or what you’d like it to become). The only way to really learn this though is to practice, and I would say you should do this daily.

A tip. After you’ve drawn something, try to get a different perspective on it to make sure you are telling the truth. Sometimes this can involve closing your eyes and settling your mind. Breathe, count to five. Open your eyes again and look at your work. You can also take your drawing and look at it in a mirror. Seeing an image reflected helps us gain distance, you’ll be seeing your work more as others see it. Sometimes we get too close to our art and we are unable to see what needs worked on. Seeing our work from a different point of view helps.

It’s also very important to recognize what we have done right. With practice you will improve, and you’ll start seeing little successes. It’s ok to celebrate those, enjoy the thing you’ve made. When you get it right, keep practicing though. The more you solidify on your ability to draw the way you want, the more you will trust your vision, trust yourself.

Footnotes to consider:
Don’t get stuck on drawing one thing. All things relate to one another, nothing exists in a microcosm. For example in anatomy, the muscle groups you see in humans also exists in birds, horses, fish… they’re just in different places, in different proportions. You can find the landmarks by finding the anatomical terms, see how they relate from one species to another. Also the same landmarks exist in people and animals irregardless of how thin or fat they are. The bones and muscles are the same, the landmarks are the same, the only difference is density. If you want later I’ll go over that in more detail.

Keep your sketchbook like a diary. You don’t have to show it to anyone if you don’t want to. You can keep your visual notes, your personal observations, all to yourself. This practice is for you, this journey is yours. It’s as private or as public as you wish. Some of us (like me) need to use visual language to speak, because words don’t always work. I can’t tell you what I see as well as I can show you, but that is because of my nature, who I am. Not everyone needs to speak to the world that way and if you don’t that is ok. You are no less creative if you don’t feel the need to be public about it.

So that’s how to draw. Drawing is a thing you do, not a thing you think about in the abstract. You don’t sing a song by thinking about it, you don’t dance by theory, the act of creating is in the act. And the rest, the nuts, the bolts, the technique, the materials, that’s just the details you figure out as you go along. The way to draw though, is just to do it.

So get to work.

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