You want to know how to start drawing again, so I guess the answer is simple. Just start. But of course, our minds like to mess with us and we procrastinate and doubt ourselves.
“What if I’m rubbish?”
“What if I don’t enjoy drawing?”
“I’d better wait until my new sketchbook arrives.”
The first thing to know is that everyone feels like this, even experienced artists. Especially if they are experimenting and trying something new.
I have personal experience of starting to draw again. Even though I have been a graphic designer for over 20 years, I had lost my passion for drawing and no longer drew by hand any more. It was only by accident when Sandra Busby and I had a little creative challenge where we decided that we would test the theory that alcohol makes you more creative that I got the bug again. It was the act of drawing a wine bottle, all be it badly that made me realise I quite enjoyed it.
So before you read any more of this post I challenge you to grab a piece of paper. It doesn’t need to be fancy, a notepad or piece of copy paper will do. Find a pen and draw something you can see from where you are sitting. No messing about deciding what to draw. I’ll give you 30 seconds to decide. Let’s face it, this first drawing may not be a masterpiece, but you have done the hardest thing and started. When you have finished, keep your drawing it will be fun to look back on to see how your drawings improve.
Are you still reading? Go and do that drawing first, then come back
Did you enjoy drawing the subject you drew? Decide now what your next drawing will be.
Be prepared to be bad at drawing
When you start drawing again you will go through the sucky stage, everyone does. So allow yourself to be bad and don’t beat yourself up about it. Look back at your drawings in a month’s time If you’ve been drawing regularly you should start to see improvement. Try and enjoy the process of drawing rather than worrying about the end result
When you start drawing again you may not like the subjects you used to
Just because you used to love drawing still life (or whatever it was) does not mean that you will now. Allow yourself to try different subjects. I used to love drawing buildings, but now I much prefer to draw faces and people. This was something I discovered by taking part in one of our creative challenges February Faces. Had I stuck with buildings, I would have probably felt bored by now. So shake it up and try drawing different things until you discover what you like. If you run out of ideas, join a challenge, search for art prompts or use a random word generator. You could even set yourself a subject a week. So week one might be animals, week two could be landscapes etc.
Experiment with different mediums
Just like your choice in subject matter might change, so might the medium you enjoy. Maybe when you were younger you loved nothing more than to spend hours on a detailed pencil drawing. Now, that might not suit your taste or busy lifestyle. Swap the notion that you have to use a pencil and start with a pen. Or try drawing straight with colour. I’m a big fan of brush pens which let you get colour down quickly and can create great effects.
A fun thing to try is using a toned surface (like grey or tan) with black and white pens. The black pen becomes the shadow areas and the white the highlights with the grey or tan becoming the mid-tones. Another technique a beginner friend of mine enjoyed when I showed her is to draw with a water-soluble Fineline pen with a brush and water (or water-brush) to make the mid-tones/greys.
It’s ok to copy drawings and paintings when you are learning to draw
When you’re a beginner artist it’s completely ok to copy as long as you credit the creator if you choose to share it publicly. Take drawings or cartoons by artists you like and try and recreate them on the page. It’s something we all did as kids, so why not as adults?
Your drawing doesn’t have to be realistic
Remember your drawing does not have to be realistic. For example, take a look at some of the fantastic semi-abstract faces that Artist Deb Weiers creates. Quirky is good, a few wobbles make a drawing more interesting. If you want to draw something, but make it look cartoony, go for it. It doesn’t even have to look like something real, it can be completely from your head. Maybe you don’t want it to look like anything at all. Your drawing can be completely abstract or you could make patterns based on objects you see. There are no rules.
Make drawing a habit
Drawing is like the gym, it’s no good going out full force and exercising every day for a week and then nothing for the rest of the month. Pace yourself. Decide what time you can spare when you start drawing – 30 minutes every weekday, 5 minutes a day. Whatever it is try and stick with it, but don’t beat yourself up if you slip now and again. Decide before you start what your theme or goal will be for the week or month too.
Take a drawing or art class
A drawing or art class is a great way to improve your drawing. Check with your local community centre or college to see if there are any evening or weekend classes near you. If not you might want to consider an online course.
Artist Strong has some free mini art courses which can then lead on to a paid Art Fundamentals Course if you choose
Kara Bullock Art
Kara Bullock Art has a range of art courses from still life to landscapes to faces and figures. Tara is one of 26 guest artists teaching Let’s Face it 2022. Let’s Face It is a year-long course for anyone who wants to practice creating portraits and figurative art.
Skillshare Art Courses
Skillshare is a site where you can learn from thousands of artists and creatives. There are classes in anything from drawing and painting to marketing. You pay a subscription and get access to all the courses – get a free month of Skillshare Premium
Proko is a site that teaches drawing. It’s especially geared towards anyone who wants to draw people (faces and figure drawing). Proko also has a great Youtube Channel and pdcast.
Life Drawing Classes
You might also want to consider taking a regular in-person or online life draw class
Art Books for Beginners
- Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards
- Sketching from Square One, to Trafalgar Square, by Richard E Scott
We also have a podcast about some of our other favourite art books
Make Yourself Accountable
Do you have a partner or friend you can make yourself accountable too? Tell them what you are doing and ask them if you can check in with them each week and share your progress. Alternatively, join a local or online art group or take part in a creative challenge. If you’re feeling brave declare what you are doing on social media and share your progress. Instagram, in particular, s a pretty kind place to be, unlike some social platforms.
You are of course welcome to join our friendly supportive Facebook group and join in with our challenges. We have artists of all levels from beginners to experienced and you can be guaranteed encouragement.
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