If you’re thinking about learning how to draw and/or paint, then it can be easy to feel intimidated or confused. From what I can remember of my more inexperienced days, even many “how to draw” books often seemed confusing or intimidatingly complicated in one way or another.
So, I thought that I’d look at a few ways that you can “de-mystify” making art.
1) You don’t need “talent”: If you’re totally new to making art, it can be easy to look at pictures by other artists and think that they were born “talented” and that you have no hope of ever being even a fraction as good as they are. This is nonsense!
Every artist, even the “talented” ones, has been where you are right now. Every artist was confused. Every artist produced clumsy-looking early artwork. Every artist tried new things and failed a few times before getting it right. Every artist thought that they’d never be as good as another artist.
When you see a great picture by a “talented” artist, you probably aren’t seeing the literal thousands of practice drawings etc… it took for them to get to the point where they could make amazing-looking art. In other words, literally every artist starts out as a beginner. So, don’t feel bad about it.
2) Just do it (even if it doesn’t look good): The only way that you’re going to gain artistic confidence and get better at making art is to practice regularly. Even if you’re totally inexperienced, start out with something manageable (eg: one small and simple drawing every day or every week or something like that) and just keep going.
The thing to remember here is that, it doesn’t matter how good or bad your practice artwork is as long as you actually make it. Yes, even if you make a terrible-looking piece of art (or a few of them), then you’ve still “won” because you’ve kept up with your practice schedule. Why is this important? Well….
Even if you don’t study any artistic theory, regular practice is still a good place to start for the simple reason that it gets you used to the idea of making art. In other words, it turns making art from “something fascinating that other people do” into something “ordinary” that you do. This will help to build your artistic confidence. It’ll mean that when you eventually look at some drawing guides/painting guides, you’ll be approaching them on slightly more equal terms and will be less likely to feel confused or intimidated by them.
Plus, if you keep making art regularly, then you’re going to have a wonderful moment (maybe several months or even over a year later) when you suddenly notice that a “terrible” picture you made today actually looks better than a “good” picture that you made shortly after you first began practicing regularly. This is a sign that you’re improving.
Likewise, getting into the mindset of making art regularly (regardless of quality) will help you out when you feel “uninspired” too. Even if you produce a terrible-looking picture (or even a copy of one of your earlier pictures) when you aren’t feeling inspired, then you’ll have still made something. Doing this enough times will help to make you feel less afraid of being uninspired and it will mean that uninspiration will have less of an effect on you.
3) Use cheap materials: If you’re new to making art, it can be easy to think that you need lots of fancy art supplies. You don’t. In fact, it’s often best to go for art supplies that are cheap and easy to use. Personally, I’d recommend starting with simple pen and pencil drawing (or pen and coloured pencil or something like that). Even if you move on to other art mediums later, then it’s a good way to learn some of the basics.
The advantage to using cheap, simple materials is that there’s no excuse for procrastination (eg:”I need to set up a studio before I can start practicing” etc..). Likewise, it helps you to see making art as more of an “ordinary” thing (which may make it seem slightly boring sometimes, but it’ll also make you feel more confident). Plus, you don’t have to worry too much about wasting your art supplies if you’re making art regularly, which means that you might be more willing to experiment with different techniques.
4) How to use drawing guides: Books and online guides about making art can be incredibly useful, if you know what you’re doing (and have built up some confidence from regular practice). The thing to remember with any kind of drawing guide is that it’s just that, a guide. It isn’t an edict, an order or a law, it’s just a series of suggestions.
So practice the things that actually make sense to you. If something doesn’t make sense to you, then either come back when it does or keep practicing other things until you find a better guide that teaches you how to do the thing that you want to learn how to do.
Likewise, the example pictures given in a guide book are there for you to copy (privately and for educational purposes, of course). In fact, the only way that they will teach you anything is if you try to copy them (by sight) yourself.
Yes, you can’t call the copies your own work or post them online, but – if you happen to learn a new technique (eg: a sudden “aha!” moment, where you suddenly realise how the artist did something) whilst copying – then you can use this technique in new ways in your own original artwork.
Likewise, just because a guide shows you how to draw something in a particular style, it doesn’t mean that you have to use that style in your own art. Instead, look for any parts of the style that appeal to you (eg: the way that the artist draws eyes, the way that they use shading etc..) and then add those techniques to your own original art. If you do this with enough different types of art, then you’ll have the beginnings of your own unique art style. This is how most artists develop their own style.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂