How to draw anything better
If you think you can’t draw, (but would like to be able to) or want to improve your artistic skills – here’s how…
Take inspiration from your surroundings
“The first thing many would-be artists wonder is ‘What shall I draw?’”, says artist Jilly Barr. “It’s no secret that some of the best pieces of art are created as a result of what the artist is most passionate about. With your first few drawings, try and take inspiration from something that means a lot to you. Perhaps use a photo in order to sketch a portrait of your partner, children or pets. Alternatively pick a favourite holiday destination and use this to create a landscape.”
Observe, observe, observe
Drawing is about seeing. Have you ever taken a photo of something without pointing the camera at it? Yet so many people think they can draw well without looking at an object, then become disappointed that their drawings don’t look right. You have to look at objects in order to draw them – a lot. The amount of time you should spend looking at your object should be half the time it takes to complete the drawing. Drawing is at least 50 per cent observation.
Practice makes perfect
If it’s been a while since you last sat down with a pen and paper, then don’t expect to be creating masterpieces within days. As with any skill, practice makes perfect and the more time you dedicate to learning and improving your drawings, the better an artist you will become. “At the same time,” recommends Jilly. “Try not to limit yourself to just one aspect of drawing or painting, explore the plethora or different styles available to you and you may just discover a love for a particular genre you weren’t expecting.”
Try ‘blind sketching’
The principle is very simple. The idea is to not look (or at least, look less) at the drawing paper while sketching quickly an object that’s being observed. Very often it gives nothing, just a pile of gibberish lines. But sometimes it can catch the essence of a posture or a movement in a very unique way. The unpredictable distortion that’s created as a result of the process can be a good start for designing or illustrating characters.
Learn from the best
These days there is a wealth of information for artists available on the internet – in particular drawing tutorials by some first-class artists – so there’s no reason you can’t learn from the best. Find the artists you admire through Google or twitter. Read what they have to say on their blogs, and watch their video tutorials. You could even start a correspondence with them. Ask them questions. You’ll find many are generous and willing to help.
Once you start, the desire to draw something can come at you in the strangest of times… never leave the house without a pad and pencil and when you do take it out, sketch as though nobody will ever see what you are making. It gives you an amazing freedom to play and enjoy the process. You will learn so much more without worrying about who will see what you have done. And don’t worry about slavishly copying every detail of what you see because there also needs to be a certain degree of fantasy in illustration.
Think before you draw
Once you’ve got into the swing of drawing begin considering the concept of your piece before you begin sketching. Small thumbnails in sketchbooks and lots of scribbles of text are great to get your initial ideas down. Collecting reference images, as well as taking your own photographs will give you plenty of material to work from.
Don’t be too self-critical
“Try not to be too critical of your art, especially when you are only just beginning to rediscover your talent,” says Jilly. “Don’t throw away drawings or pieces that you don’t feel are good enough to be seen by others. Keep them, let them enable you to find out where your artistic strengths and weaknesses lie, and use them to help you improve as an artist over a period of time.”
Surround yourself with the local art scene
“Nothing will help your newfound love of art more than meeting people who are just as passionate about drawing,” says Jilly. “Search online for local art groups or social media pages where you will meet like-minded individuals who will be more than happy to share advice, tips and offer friendly critique on your existing pieces.”
Visit jillybarr.com for more inspiration.