“Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.” - George Scialabba
How many people are creative in their everyday lives?
Most people say they’d like to take up a creative hobby and drawing and painting are great at developing your creativity.
But how can you learn to draw without having to attend art school?
Here are some ways for you to get started.
Learn the Fundamentals of Drawing by Drawing an Apple
Anyone can learn how to draw. Children start by drawing rather than writing. The only difference is that some people continue to draw as they grow up and practise and get better. However, it’s never too late to get started.
There are art classes in art schools, associations, clubs, or with private tutors but you can always teach yourself. If you choose the latter, you’ll need to plan before you get started.
Before you start trying to paint with acrylics or oils, you have to learn the fundamentals of drawing. In a drawing workshop, you’ll probably draw still life and, more often than not, this will include fruit and probably an apple. This is why I recommend you learn to draw an apple.
Take an apple, place it in front of you on a table, and start trying to draw it with just a pencil. You’ll need to use shading in place of colour. This is one of the first exercises you can do to start drawing realistic objects and discover how to represent light and shadow on the paper.
If you want your drawing to be centred on the page, you can draw a single vertical and horizontal line through the middle of your page.
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Learning to Draw Perspective by Drawing a City
Perspective hasn’t always been easy for artists. Before the Renaissance, painters didn’t understand the concept and most were unable to represent 3D space on a 2D medium.
Many famous artworks throughout history lacked any depth. This doesn’t mean that the artist wasn’t any good; perspective just wasn’t something that appeared in art. Now that you have the choice, you’ll probably want to learn how to use it.
Drawing an urban landscape is a great way to understand perspective. Start by making a point in the centre of your page. From this point, draw lines outwards at different angles. To the left and the right of this point, draw two vertical lines.
Once you’ve drawn these lines, use them to start drawing buildings by following the lines to the vanishing point. These will be the facades of the buildings. The lines at the bottom of the page that lead to the vanishing point will be used to draw the road.
Once you’ve finished the facades of the buildings, you can use the other lines to make the roofs of the buildings.
To effectively use colours in drawing and painting, you need to go beyond the understanding of primary colours you learnt in primary school. You can start using secondary colours, complementary colours, etc.
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You need to learn to associate colours and certain rules and codes that exist. For example, purple with yellow, green with red, orange with blue. This technique involves using a secondary colour and the only primary colour that isn’t used to make it.
For example, since blue and red make purple, yellow is its complementary colour.
You can try this for yourself. Take the three primary colours, mix each combination of them, and then use the colour that wasn’t part of the mix alongside it. You’ll soon begin to understand how colours work.
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Learn How to Draw by Practising for 15 Minutes Every Day
Practice makes perfect. You can read as many art books and watch as many YouTube tutorials as you like but until you start practising, you won’t make any progress.
Whether you want to improve your landscapes, create a comic, or do portraits, practice is key. Make sure that you set aside between 15 minutes and half an hour each day to draw.
You don’t need to do a magnificent oil painting every day. You just need to ensure your hands get some practice in. Take a sketchbook and draw for a few minutes.
You can draw whatever you want: a portrait, landscape, mandala, dragon, whatever!
The same is true for the materials you use. You can use charcoal, pencils, pens, Indian ink, coloured pencils, or even felt-tips!
You mightn’t see the benefits immediately but believe me, your hand and brain are beginning to remember each stroke.
Learning to Draw Faces
Drawing portraits is a great way to work on your observation, proportions, composition, realism, and light and shadow. However, it’s also quite difficult.
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Drawing a face is difficult when you’re first starting so don’t be scared of making mistakes. It's is all about improving, not putting together an exhibition. Relax and ask a friend if they’d be happy to pose for you. If you prefer, you can also draw a portrait from a photo.
Start by placing the face in the centre of the page with the eyes and the nose. After that, draw the mouth and the outline of the face. Finish off by adding the ears and the hair.
You can move onto a different face or try drawing the same one again. It’s a good idea to try a different face and then go back to the first. Once you start making progress, you’ll find it encouraging.
Become a Better Artist by Sketching
Another way to become better is by sketching what you can see. This is a great way to improve your observation. Similarly, it’s a good way to relax. When we sit down to draw something specific, we tend to get bogged down by the details.
A quick sketch isn’t about speed but it can help you to focus on the essential elements rather than the details since everything can change. You need to get the most out of each detail.
Sketch on the bus or in the street. Draw passersby, the landscape, etc. This can improve your eye for important details. Keep in mind that you won’t be drawing any of these things perfectly at first. Just enjoy it.
Practise by Recreating a Famous Piece
There are plenty of things you can do when it comes to drawing and painting. Recreating a famous painting is useful when learning how to draw. Not just because it allows you to better understand the style of an artist you like, but because it also allows you to discover new techniques. You can also find images online or on social media.
In art classes, we used to have plenty of books on different artists that we could use to copy famous pieces. In certain cases, we were told to pick an artist and copy their work. However, you can’t start making money off these copies!
You might want to draw on a grid for better results. Having a grid on the piece you’re copying and on your sheet of paper can help. You’ll have a better idea of where everything goes.
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Give Yourself a Theme Each Week
Be it still life, portraits, life drawing, or animals, it might be a good idea to draw something a little different each week.
By changing it up regularly, you’ll discover new ways to draw and new techniques to try out. If you can’t manage it every week, try it each month. You could work on drawing animals for one month and then people another. As beginners, it’s quite easy to discover new things so don’t hesitate to give it a go!
If you'd like a personal drawing class, consider getting help with drawing, sketching, or painting classes from one of the talented tutors on Superprof.
Firstly, you'll need to think about what kind of tutorial will be best for you, your budget, and your learning style as there are three main types available: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of effectiveness and cost so make sure you choose the right type.
Face-to-face tutorials tend to be the most costly but also the most cost-effective. Online tutorials are good for those who can't find tutors locally but they tend to be better for the theoretical subjects rather than hands-on subjects like art. Finally, group tutorials lack the personalised approach offered by the other two but tend to be the cheapest as all the students are sharing the cost of the tutor's time.
Before you choose your tutor, remember that many of the tutors on Superprof will offer free tutoring for the first hour so you can discuss what you're after and see if they're right for you!