The 3 reasons why you can’t draw, (and what to do about it)

by Will Kemp

in drawing

drawingcourseonline

Sometimes you just can’t figure it out.

It seems no matter how hard you try, how intensely you look at a subject, your drawings look wrong.

You’ve read how to draw books, maybe gone to a few art classes but the art of drawing still seems to elude you.

And you begin to question yourself – What if it’s me? What if I don’t have enough talent?

What if I’m never going to improve?

You are not alone.

Understanding drawing can be the key to both your artistic success and a new, razor sharp creative mind – but it can seem an uphill struggle.

But what if there was a simple solution? Pieces to the puzzle that you didn’t know existed,
3 secrets that could instantly improve your drawing and painting?

Wouldn’t you give it a try?..

1. What if I told you, you talk too much

Talking and drawing don’t mix.

The main problems associated with drawing is when you talk you engage your logical, language dominated left side of the brain. This side of your brain is keen on knowing an objects name, labelling it, and organising it.

Often when learning to draw, you need to temporarily hold off judgment and try not to second guess what you think the object should look like, rather than what the object actually looks like.

When you are trying to learn to draw something realistically, you have to engage your right hand side of the brain, which is keener on images and spatial perception.

It’s very hard to do both at the same time.

Why?

Because it causes mind freeze.

Have you ever been in a creative zone of absorption, a state where time travels quickly and you are in what psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls ‘flow’.

How Does It Feel to Be in Flow?

  1. Completely involved in what we are doing – focused, concentrated.
  2. A sense of ecstasy – of being outside everyday reality.
  3. Great inner clarity – knowing what needs to be done, and how well we are doing.
  4. Knowing that the activity is doable – that skills are adequate to the task.
  5. A sense of serenity – no worries about oneself, and a feeling of growing beyond the boundaries of the ego.
  6. Timelessness – thoroughly focused on the present, our sin to pass by in minutes.
  7. Intrinsic motivation – whatever produces flow becomes its own reward.

Flow is the mental state when you are fully immersed in an activity, a feeling of full involvement and energy. You can get to this stage of envolvement whilst drawing, that is until you get interrupted.

The combination of left and right battling against each other makes trying to draw tricky. You can learn to talk and draw at the same time but it takes practice. Rolf Harris has been doing it for years but if you watch him carefully he talks mostly when he’s at the canvas but not actually drawing.

It all starts by understanding how your mind works, and how you can be subconsciously sabotaging your best efforts.

2. You have a harsh inner critic

You can learn to draw, you just might not believe it and this is often the first stumbling block to attaining a new skill.

Drawing is as much a mental game as an observational game.

Sure, you need a basic level of skill to hold a pencil and make a mark but not as much as you may think. It’s about the same level of skill as signing your name, or throwing and catching a ball.

However, your subconscious mind is extremely powerful and it can play havoc with your best efforts when learning this new skill.

You see, your subconscious is already telling you this can’t be true.

Changing your internal script

Often successes in our lives stem from our own internal beliefs. And these can be crippling both in your progress as an artist or in any other areas of your life.

Napolen Hill’s book ‘Think and grow Rich’ focuses on the mental game when learning about wealth creation.

“Our minds become magnetized with the dominating thoughts we hold in our minds and these magnets attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts.”

If you keep on thinking you can’t draw, you won’t.

As you try and draw something realistically and it starts to go ‘wrong’ your inner critic starts to rear it’s head. Often drawings start off really well and you observe things accurately, it’s only when you get to a perceived ‘tricky’ bit you start to question yourself.

The truth is you have probably started to ‘make up’ the rest of the drawing and have stopped observing, relying on what you think it looks like.

In comes the inner critic and says:

“That doesn’t look like a boat, give up now, it looks like a kid’s done it”

So what we have to do is stop labelling objects, and start to look more abstractly.

3. You label the object too much

“Isn’t this correct? I should be looking and labelling the object, I have to really concentrate on it, that is what you have to do, right?”

Well yes and no.

When I’m drawing a bottle, I don’t draw the bottle, I draw the shapes around the bottle and then the bottle is drawn for me.

Confused?

Let me explain some more.

All edges in drawing are shared edges, you cannot draw a line without it sharing two edges. Imagine drawing the bottom of a boat, one straight horizontal line.

That line now shares an edge with the bottom of the boat and the water.

One line, two edges.

That tricky boat you were having trouble with, is just a series of lines and shapes.

How I draw

So if I draw the space around a bottle, it shares an edge with the space and the bottle so the bottle is drawn by me not drawing it.

In drawing you are constantly trying to disassociate from labelling actual objects so your logical left brain can’t try to tell you how to draw what it recognises.

It seems wrong, it seems backwards, but this is why you can’t draw.

To see like an artist you have to learn to make a cognitive shift from left brain to right brain.

If you keep on talking to yourself, engaging your inner critic you will be firing up the left brain.

Ever wonder why Jackson Pollack drank a lot of Bourbon, Van Gogh absinthe? Alcohol calms you down, you’re not as self critical.

So although I’m not suggesting you hit the bar before getting out your pencils, just try to be aware of the internal ‘voice’ that will hinder your progress.

Drawing is a paradox.

To see something as an artist sees it, you have to not look at an object, not label an object but to see it as shapes.

Abstract elements once drawn then become real in front of your eyes and the left brain will then fire up to make sense of the shapes and label it.

A brief overview of left brain right brain

A right-brain outlook on life can give you a holistic view, whereas left brainers are often more detail orientated.

Left-brain thinkers focus on the logical, rational, sequential, and analytical while right-brainers prefer more random, holistic, and free-associated approaches.

Psychologists say that left-brainers focus on words and numbers while right-brain people focus on visual images and patterns.

Right brain thinkers make lateral associations whilst left-brain people make logical deductions from information.

Most people are a mix between the two, do any of these character traits seem familiar?

LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS      

  • uses logic
  • detail oriented
  • facts rule
  • words and language
  • present and past
  • math and science
  • can comprehend
  • knowing
  • acknowledges
  • order/pattern perception
  • knows object name
  • reality based
  • forms strategies
  • practical
  • safe

RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS

  • uses feeling
  • “big picture” oriented
  • imagination rules
  • symbols and images
  • present and future
  • philosophy & religion
  • can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
  • believes
  • appreciates
  • spatial perception
  • knows object function
  • fantasy based
  • presents possibilities
  • impetuous
  • risk taking

Drawing as a learnable skill

beforeandafterdrawing

This is an example of one of my students ‘Before’ and ‘After’ on my 6 week drawing course – this is the same mug drawn 6 weeks apart!

Just like every other activity, your skills can be improved as you learn basic principles and get some practice. The key to learning to draw, just like learning to write, is good foundational instruction and then working until you own it.

No one said it would be easy, nothing worth doing is. Yet just because it is challenging does not mean that, with time and hard work, you will be excellent.

When you start to learn any new skill an expert eye can help keep you motivated and on-track.

My ‘Tutor supported online drawing course’ is currently available with 3 video feedbacks of your drawings from myself, priced at $119 /£75

The video feedback demonstrates to you exactly where you can improve and show the bits that have really worked and why.

All my students have loved the visual, comprehensive nature of the videos. Being able to see in real time their drawings being refined and altered has been hugely beneficial.

“What a great idea to do video feedback for an online course! I love being able to watch you make the changes you talk about to my actual drawing in real time – much easier to follow, understand and learn from than some written points in an email (which is what I expected) … So yeah, thanks again for the feedback and encouragement – much appreciated “

I also have an ‘Instant access homestudy version’, exactly the same lessons, instead of being delivered over 6 weeks every lesson is available from day 1 but without the video feedback from me, priced at $69 / £45

If you are interested in learning to draw you can join my 6 week ‘absolute beginner drawing course’ by just clicking this link

 

{ 141 comments… read them below or add one }

michael williams July 27, 2012

Thank you very much for the insight. Since I was young I had always been convinced that I would never be able to draw more than stick figures. I had been informed it was a left/right issue. I excel in math, logical problems, coding speed, mechanical inclination, and especially in analysis and engineering of systems. Never before had I thought about stopping the chatter of the left side of my brain. Thanks again!

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Will Kemp July 27, 2012

Hi Micheal,
Thanks for the comment, yes, drawing is a learnable skill and can really can be very effective in quietening down the chatter from the left side of the brain. In fact it can be key in helping you gain creative insights to problems because it helps to encourage more lateral thinking associations.

By giving the logical side of the brain some downtime it enables more ‘aha’ moments, that often usually come when we least expect them – going for a walk, working out at the gym, taking a shower.

It’s like a fast track to your creativity!

Thanks again,
Will

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velyneda September 26, 2012

This is me

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Will Kemp September 27, 2012

Thanks for the comment Velyneda, it really is a case of just tweaking your approach to drawing and you can make huge leaps forward.

Cheers,
Will

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Cooper October 1, 2012

Hey, thanks for this.
I draw often, and in drawing people I have found I can’t draw a person looking to the right, do you have any idea why this is?

Thanks.

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Will Kemp October 1, 2012

Hey Cooper,

Pleased you enjoyed it, I have found that students who are right handed often prefer to draw people looking to the left.

If you are used to writing from left to right it makes sense to place the seemingly most important part of the face (eyes & features) on the left, so when this is reversed it can seem slightly strange.

Will

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Cooper October 9, 2012

Yeah, I am right handed :(
But thanks for the heads up, its going to help!
Cooper

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Sheryl October 27, 2012

Fantastic writeup..

Couldn’t figure out how I’d corner myself during the creative process, But your article shifted a lot into perspective.

Sincerely… Thankyou
Sheryl

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Will Kemp October 28, 2012

Thanks Sheryl,

Really pleased it helped.

Will

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Nair Carina November 2, 2012

What i feel when i draw something is exactly what you said!!! but now i have a problem…. my flow is missing, i’m trying to get it back but for a long time i stopped drawing because my life had been very busy but today i tryed to draw something and nothing happened…. i’m very sad right now, something is missing…. my flow…everything that i am…. can you give me a little advice?

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Will Kemp November 2, 2012

Hi Nair,
Oh dear, no one wants a missing flow! Practice with the technique outlined in this article, although it’s counter intuitive, it’s one of the quickest methods of engaging your creative side.

Hope this helps,

Thanks,

Will

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Nair Carina November 2, 2012

Thank u very much! I think that was just an overreaction xD today some ideas come to my mind and I will try again! the article helped a lot too, and I will try to do what you said!!!

Thanks for the motivation :D

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Will Kemp November 2, 2012

You’re welcome Nair

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RaVen November 27, 2012

I stumbled upon this revealing website of why some people are stagnated — how accurate — I once had a biofeedback specialist stating that I am 100% left brain – which is rare for women in general – no wonder I’ve always felt split-personality —- as a child when I was language-less (Deaf since birth) – I used to draw in order to “communicate” with my family or friends as I didn’t know word existed. When I was forced to wear hearing aids and speech therapy — my brain completely shifted to the left hemisphere — the older I got as I mastered English language, the less I could skillfully draw! It is RARE times if I am extremely emotional – suddenly the flow comes back. Now it’s practically non-existent as I have severe Hashimoto’s that causes ADD-like symptoms – I can’t stick long enough to concentrate and finish art project – my brain actually hurts after half hour. Still I try — lots of images floats around in my head and I hope somehow, someday I will dive deep and the flow will guide my hands to do what my mind wants it to create. Excellent insights – thank you from my heart!

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Will Kemp November 27, 2012

Hi RaVen,

You’re welcome, really pleased you enjoyed the article,

Will

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Bond December 4, 2012

Amazing article!

I have little question.
If i understand it correctly, i should shut down left (logical) side of brain as artist but what if i am almost 100% left brainer? Have i any chances learn drawing one day?

Thank you for responde.

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Will Kemp December 5, 2012

Hey Bond, thanks for your comment, yes there is hope!
You just need to practice drawing techniques that quieten the left brain, have a look at this drawing exercise, which initially seems like it would never work (that’s your left brain talking!) but is one of the most highly effective methods of engaging your creative side.

Cheers,
Will

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Mar December 6, 2012

about this left brainer and right brainer….. I think one time the side that always say things like “Give up, this doesn’t look right, you can’t do it” went off and I went with the flow. I ended up drawing something that amazed me for a beginner.

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Will Kemp December 7, 2012

Good one Mar, going with the flow and trusting your right brain is the key!
Cheers,
Will

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Good Grief December 6, 2012

Thanks a lot for this insightful article. It really puts everything into perspective and I hope you get people to start looking into your classes. I swear I’ve read almost everything there is about drawing and even took 3 years of drawing classes in high school, yet could never keep or look at any drawing I’ve made out of sheer embarrassment. It just never clicked for me, and that critic would always remind me that it’s high time that I’ve given up. I think I’ve realized that I’m thinking/reading too much about the process instead of actually doing it, and that now it’s time to finally pursue my dream of making comics.

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Will Kemp December 7, 2012

Pleased to hear it Good Grief, the internal critic can really hold you back, great to hear the process of drawing has ‘clicked’
Cheers,
Will

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Mia December 11, 2012

Hello,
This may seem a strange question, but which hand is the best to draw with? I write with both hands comfortably with little difference and my drawings do not change much from hand to hand. Suggestions?

Mia

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Will Kemp December 12, 2012

Hi Mia, what a talent! Imagine someone throws a ball at you when you least expect it, which hand do you instinctively use? That’s the hand to go with.
Cheers,
Will

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Mia December 12, 2012

Ok, that helps! Thanks for your time!

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Joe December 14, 2012

Hi. I don’t understand how I am to do that, I mean How do you isolate that part of the brain?.

I am a Chess player and I use scripting etc but I am constantly thinking and talking to myself and quadruple checking what I am doing over and over its just how my brain works.

I don’t understand how to isolate that and keep focused without checking over the same thing over and over again.

Any ideas on how to help?

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Will Kemp December 14, 2012

Hi Joe,

The irony is, learning to draw will help to quieten your mind. It is a skill that can be developed. Also, I’ve found Yoga and meditation very beneficial in helping to quieten the chatter.

The exercise I demonstrate in this article shows a technique for engaging the right side of your brain.

Cheers,
Will

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Joe December 15, 2012

See the problem with it is i used to be able to very well then i got distracted and stop’d for so long and now im trying again and it is not going well i have try’d meditation Nothing i have try’d works

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Will Kemp December 15, 2012

Hi Joe, its all about taking things one step at a time and practicing. Just like learning a musical instrument, there is going to be many mistakes when you first start but practice will make practice.

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Paola December 26, 2012

Hi! I find your article very interesting. Thanks for posting it! :)

I like to draw since I was child, and I was often the best at it amongst people from school, family, etc. I was drawing all the time. However I stopped doing it for many, many years. Now I want to start again, but I lack of ideas, I often say to myself that I’ve lost the creativity I had, and feel so frustrated.

I relate to your 2nd and 3rd points, not at the 1st one though, cause I’m quite the opposite. Everytime I draw, I see my results ugly, unproportionated, or boring, and always end up throwing my sketches away.

Since I’m planning to take this serious, I got yesterday a hardbound sketchbook, and I hope it keeps me from ripping the sheets when the things doesn’t go the way I want (a very bad habit I have). I’ve already drawn something on it. I had no idea what to do, so I made a self portrait. Of course, I found endless defects in it, but well, it will stay there.

I really hope this helps, cause I want to have back what made me special once.

P.S. I just realize, the person before described almost the same situation as me in his last comment… Hope he can get over the problem :)

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Will Kemp December 28, 2012

Hi Paola,

Pleased the article resonated with you, the sketchbook will really help, as it acts as a visual diary to your drawing process.

Although you may feel like throwing ‘bad’ drawings away, looking back over earlier work can really help to see your progress.

Cheers,
Will

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Nicole December 31, 2012

Hey! I love this article. I have some drawing skill but I’ve always handled it in a methodical, logical, grids, step by step, this-is-a-straight-line-so-lets-use-a-ruler kind of way and my drawings always look a little bit wrong, bare, or unshaded.

I would love to buy your videos but as a student…obviously I can’t afford that right now, Hahaha. But thank you for this article. I hope I can tell my left side brain to shush! Thanks again.

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Will Kemp December 31, 2012

Cheers Nicole, pleased you enjoyed the article.

Thanks,
Will

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Hailey January 11, 2013

I needed help with expressing my feelings and this really helped me because i love to draw and i really appreciate it.

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Will Kemp January 11, 2013

Cheers Hailey, glad it helped!

Will

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Mario January 28, 2013

I always admired art, and always wanted to draw, but I never had motivation becase of school and, when I’m not, I do other things I like. Maybe I don’t draw because I probably never tried and I don’t know, because everytime I draw, it looks so bad and I loose all hope.

But maybe I should just keep drawing until I can draw what and how I want. I am only 15 years old, I don’t know if that is good or bad, and I usually don’t talk, I’m one of those kids who are at a corner of the classroom which are not cool, but neither a target to be a joke. Thanks for your guide, it gave me an idea of why i should start drawing. I like to share thoughts :)

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Will Kemp January 29, 2013

Hey Mario,
Thanks for dropping by with your thoughts on drawing. Many students become discouraged early on with drawing and feel they ‘aren’t talented’ but this just isn’t true. As with all skills, practice and perseverance is what will help the most in developing your skills as an artist.

Cheers,
Will

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Neathin Smith February 5, 2013

I always loved art and to draw I am 18 and working on going to art college to be a gaming artist/manga artist. I’m finishing my senoir year of highschool. I have drawn since I was young but would always get frustrated watching my brother and other people draw really good with almost no effort. I just recently got back into drawing after a year and am having trouble getting myself to draw. one question I have is what can I do to get myself to draw more? And Ive never really thought i needed to use the right side of my brain, so what would like to know is should I always use my right side when drawing?

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Will Kemp February 5, 2013

Hi Neathin,

When learning to draw, or learning any new skill, a regular habit is the key to your progress. You don’t have to draw for long, even just 5 minutes a day will make a big difference. Try to match your drawing practice with an already existing habit, that way you will soon start to ‘trigger’ the drawing response. So, for example, if every morning you have a coffee, draw at the same time, just replace a pencil for a biscuit!

If you’re trying to draw an object from life you will be engaging your right side of the brain, however, if you are drawing from imagination the sides can switch. Don’t try to think of it as ‘am I using my right side of the brain now’ question, or you will be engaging your logical left side of the brain!

Hope this helps,
Cheers,
Will

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Neathin Smith February 7, 2013

Thanks Will your insight is very helpfull, great article too very helpfull keep it up :)

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Will Kemp February 7, 2013

Thanks Neathin, pleased it helped.

Will

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Neathin Smith February 11, 2013

So I’m starting to work on gesture drawing, any tips?
thanx -Neathin

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Will Kemp February 12, 2013

I’d ‘warm up’ by drawing with your weaker hand. If you’re right handed, start with using your left hand. It will feel very strange and uncomfortable at first, but will help you to loosen up and then be more gestural when you swap to your dominant hand.

Cheers,
Will

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painter33 March 22, 2013

Much of what you write makes sense, especially describing objects by name – labeling. I discount all talk about the left brain-right brain mumbo jumbo because it can provide a hiding place for those who make excuses for not going slowly enough to allow the learning process to occur. “Oh, boo hoo, I’m just too left-brained to draw”. Phooey! When one is drawing from observation, “what” something is might be the most irrelevant element, whereas, “what does it do?” (structurally and literally) or more specifically, a series of questions that have a hierarchical order from the large to the smalls elements of forms must be constantly asked (internally) to begin to understand what is seen. Knowing the questions in advance is actually absurd, just like believing that one has already seen something once therefore it will be the same every time, is naive at best and ignorant at its worst. Preconceptions can short-circuit the drawing process faster than stopping before beginning; that’s pretty much what’s happening by thinking that one brings more to a drawing situation than one needs to know/learn. An on-going dialogue of describing vertical and horizontal alignments, spatial distances, proportions, perspective (if you understand how to use horizontal and vertical determinants, perspective can remain a cosmic theory instead of poking its head into one’s head). In foreshortened forms, the perspective theory is trumped by how seeing (and measuring) how little one sees forms behind other forms as they “pile forward”. Most people mistakenly believe that they can’t draw when, in fact, they don’t know what to look for or how to organize their questions. Every question has answers, usually the questions and answers are very literal – e.g. in drawing the figure, “how does the acromian process vertically line up with the right limit of the patella?” Answer: “It’s slightly to the left/outside of, or right on a vertical line drawn to touch that rightmost point of the patella”. Questions and answers have to be literal, but the drawing, a synthesis of information, doesn’t have to be a photographic reproduction and shouldn’t aspire to do so- it’s better, because spaces between forms are considered for their placement, relative sizes, distances, etc. yielding a better illusion of form or forms in space than a flat photograph. Anyone can learn to think; drawing is an intellectual exercise more than it is one of the hand. A drawing is a graphic manifestation of thinking, clear uncluttered thinking, analytical and precise. Forget about “art” and concentrate on the reality of form in space. I have opened up scientists and medical doctors to the ideas of analytical questioning, they do it naturally so that helped, and they have made remarkable drawings as a result, much to their surprise but not to mine. It’s pure joy to learn how to think one’s way through drawings, over and over the course of a lifetime. The “poetry” is in the honesty and humility before nature, not in some ultra sensitive (and often faux) “expression”. There are some rules however: only use one damn pencil, don’t erase anything until you’ve corrected the problem (“Those who choose to ignore history…” and all of that), go nearly into a trance by asking questions, and make sure to have fun! No one dies from making a bad drawing, and everyone makes bad drawings (sometimes). Sorry for the length, but drawing well is hard, drawing is not, and it shouldn’t be portrayed as mysterious or only for those who’ve been sprinkled by fairy dust. It takes hard work, not talent, to be successful in any endeavor.

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Will Kemp March 28, 2013

Well, what a full and interesting comment!

Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to share your knowledge,

Cheers,

Will

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Akira Skye March 25, 2013

So would that be why I can draw best when I’m listening to my music? Because when I do, I don’t focus on /what/ is that I’m drawing. I just draw it to the best of my ability and then in the end it turns out rather well. I label what I’m drawing, put on my music and draw it.

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Will Kemp March 28, 2013

Good one Akira, we just have to ‘zone out’ and look at the shapes in front of us,

Will

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Neathin Smith April 3, 2013

I recently sent one of my drawings to a art college and they said it was good but it lacked line quality. So I started looking up ways to improve my line quality and I learned that I’ve been drawing wrong (there words not mine). Seems I’ve been drawing what is called “chicken scratch”. Any incites and exercises on this would be helpful. Its kinda put me in a block on finishing my senior project art portfolio. Thank you

Neathin

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Will Kemp April 8, 2013

Hey Neathin,

It sounds like they’re describing a scratchy line rather than a free-flowing line, sometimes this scratchy technique can work really well in drawings but if your trying to gain more confidence with your line, to achieve a continuous flow with a pencil then a good exercise to do is to limit the number of lines you use per drawing.

For example: limit yourself to 6 lines for drawing a cup.

It will force you to really look at the subject and be more decisive and definite with your line, because when you do 1 line you’ve only got 5 left to go!

I hope this helps and practice this technique using different subjects,

Cheers,

Will

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Sally May 8, 2013

Hi.
I was given a very useful tip from my counsellor last year. It helps during the stuck moments when you want to draw but cant motivate yourself or if you dont know what to do/draw. It actually works with anything, to stop procrastination, or it does with me anyway.
What you are doing is worrying about what the drawing will look like, technical errors etc and you haven’t even started yet. The best thing to do is simple, just do/just draw… Soooooo, what I do is draw how I feel at any given moment, so if I feel angry, upset, depressed, happy, I draw what I feel. It comes out very weird, very abstract, but you cant judge what you are doing, it isnt about that, it is a stimulation thing. It helps to get the flow back.
Many Thanks for your very very useful insight above, it strengthens what I have been told by my counsellor. I have printed it off and put it on my wall next to my pc. To give me confidence and support.

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Will Kemp May 10, 2013

Good one Sally, great advice, the very act of drawing is what can kickstart your creative flow, pleased you enjoyed the article.

Cheers,
Will

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Nina May 11, 2013

How sad I should come across this after four years of not drawing. I stagnated in ability and creativity and eventually gave up. I had high expectations that I had failed to meet for so long– since I had turned 16 and enrolled in art oriented high school. My final piece receiving average grades finally killed what little desire there was to create– I was not good at it, I had never been good at it and certainly felt I would never be good at it. I saw people start at my level or even below, and shoot past me and grow.

No idea why my artistic development came to such a halt and why I never recovered. I tried hard, practiced hard. I am neither a leftie nor a right brainer, as I fail to flourish in general. Are there people born with no talent at all?

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Will Kemp May 22, 2013

Hi Nina,

Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that you feel like you have come to a halt in your artistic development.

Talent is grown and not born and just because an art teacher couldn’t see your potential doesn’t mean there wasn’t any!

Being creative isn’t a competition and everyone learns new skills at a different rate.

Your confidence has taken a real hit, my advice would be, to introduce drawing purely for your own pleasure a little at a time and give your self permission to enjoy the process, even if the end result isn’t as you planned.

This article might interest you,

Good luck and hopefully you’ll be drawing again soon,

Will

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Rosie May 19, 2013

Hi, I’ve recently been planning on writing my own book. I’ve figured out the storyline and I’d really like to try and draw some of the images I have in my head for the places/characters in the story. The problem is is that I’m not a great drawer and I’m very ‘left brained’. The only thing I’d say I have that uses the right-hand side of my brain is that I’m quite musical. I also find it really hard to picture detail in the images I am thinking of. Do you think that your idea of drawing objects around me will help me to draw what I’m thinking, or is there a better approach for this? Thanks

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Will Kemp May 20, 2013

Hi Rosie, yes, most defiantly, by observing and drawing objects around you helps to embed them in your memory, this can then aid to a greater understanding of the objects and more realistic drawings when working from the imagination.
You might be interested in this book by James Gurney – Imaginative Realism – How to paint what doesn’t exist.

Cheers,
Will

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Deanna June 8, 2013

Hey, I’m 13 and recently I just broke my right wrist I am right handed. I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to draw again bc my wrist was weak but I actually drew a pretty good rose with my brace on. As my wrist got stronger, my drawing got better, but now I feel like I can’t draw. I have the urge to draw something that inspires me but I feel like it turns out awful, am I being too judgmental? Am I in a rut, have I lost my flow? If so what can do to get back in flow? I have drawing only for a year and haven’t taken any classes but I think I can pretty well. But I want to learn how to draw sophisticated portraits, right now I just copy an image and draw free handed. I am thinking about taking classes but don’t know where to start. Everyone says I’m good at drawing but truth is, people can draw way better than me. How can I get back in my flow? If you have any tips for learning how to draw sophisticated portraits, please let me know. My skill on drawing is a 0 compared to other scenes I can draw. Can you please help me figure this out?

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Will Kemp June 12, 2013

Hi Deanna, sounds like you’re being a little hard on yourself as portraits can take a lifetime to master, and you’ve got many drawing years ahead of you.

However, the skills needed to draw a portrait are the same as drawing a Rose.

You just have to keep checking with yourself and ask the question….and I drawing what I see? Or am I drawing what I think I see.

Try setting up a video camera and film yourself drawing an object.
Notice how much time you spend looking at the object, and how much time you are looking at the paper.

The aim is to be looking at the object more than the paper.

Hope this helps,

Will

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Maay Kaay June 13, 2013

Nice article. It reminds me of a time in grade 9 art class. I found art class so difficult. I felt the creative part of my brain was stuck somewhere. Art was my hardest subject. As silly as it sounds I actually dreaded art. Artwork deadlines was something I felt was serious because it clearly reflected me and my ability to be creative. We had to do a culminating artwork that was worth a lot and present it too. I remember I was the last person to start. I just couldn’t get my creative juices flowing. But in the end I had the best one. I still look back at that and love the feeling of satisfaction and achievement I obtained from that one art work I did.

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Will Kemp June 14, 2013

Thanks Maay, pleased it brought back some fond memories of your creativity!

Cheers,
Will

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Ian June 24, 2013

I learned a ton from this article. I plan to sign up for your home class soon. I am an aspiring singer/songwriter and I love to write stories. Problem is that I know I could write stories so much better if I could see what I am writing about. I usually have a concrete idea and can picture what I am thinking about, but I usually forget it a day or 2 later. Thanks for this article, it really is great.

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Will Kemp June 25, 2013

Hi Ian, thanks for your kind comment and really pleased you found the article helpful in your drawing.

Cheers,
Will

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John July 4, 2013

This article will help me a lot, as all of it seems to apply to me. I draw manga-style for fun, although making comics has crossed my mind, but I always set myself up for failure. I’ve always been around people who are such great artists, and I end up comparing my art to theirs, even before I begin drawing. I’m always ashamed to show even my best works despite my friends never being harsh with criticism and my best works actually being rather good. This article helped me realize that my greatest enemy in drawing is myself. I never devote the time to actually improve myself and end up worse by the time I feel like drawing again. I’ve improved markedly since I started drawing, but I continue to strive for the ability my friends have even though I want to develop my own style.

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Will Kemp July 5, 2013

Pleased the article helped John,
Cheers,
Will

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brittany July 5, 2013

I always thought it was me, and that I wasn’t born with the talent. I do talk too much when it comes to drawing. My mom says I’m good at drawing, but I don’t think so. I think I could improve a LOT; Nice improvement on the mugs by the way. I bet your student was VERY proud of him/herself.

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Will Kemp July 5, 2013

Cheers Brittany, pleased it’s given you the inspiration to persevere with your drawing.

Will

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Jade July 17, 2013

What an amazing article! I have never been able to draw and I really want to learn how to. I want to create an art journal; just a book where I can put out all my ideas.
But I never seem to able to draw something that pleases me. Something that, I think, reflects me. And mainly because, I cannot draw. I am a logical person but I love being creative; it is just when I want to be creative, I cannot think of anything to create. I look at a tree and say no I cannot draw that. Or that book, or whatever!
While your article was absolutely amazing, could you give some additional inspiring tips to a teenager wanting to draw. I feel like my drawing is a hopeless case and I’d really appreciate it if you could give me some good advice.

Jade

P.S. Were you a good drawer when you were younger?
P.S.S. What defines an art journal and what do you believe an art journal is good for?
P.S.S.S. If I write with my left hand, but I throw a ball, catch a ball, etc with my right hand, what does that signify? Am I strong in both left and right? I am not sure

Sorry about the lengthy comment, but I had so much to ask you!

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Will Kemp July 18, 2013

Hey Jade,

Thanks for dropping by, I’m really pleased you enjoyed the article.

I think an art journal is a great idea, somewhere to sketch, paint or just create without feeling too precious about it.
An art journal can be any thing you want or like to work in, from a small notebook to a larger open leaf portfolio, it’s up to you. It can include photography, collage, writing – literally anything creative that you feel express’s your ideas.

You can then see what’s working and develop that idea into a bigger, finished piece.

Drawing does take practice, so keep acting on those moments of inspiration!

P.S.S.S. If I write with my left hand, but I throw a ball, catch a ball, etc with my right hand, what does that signify? Am I strong in both left and right? I am not sure?
Sounds like you’d be an excellent juggler! also you have a well balanced hemispheres!

Cheers,

Will

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melissa August 4, 2013

How do you shut down the left half your brain?I can’t because I mostly read books and I am a bit crafty but wen I am 90% almost finish with my art I always intend to add more things to it then it just messes up …. My brain always tells me stuff like ” it looks too dull add more things to it, go on” then that’s when it messes up and I get frustrated then my parents have and had to help me ever since I was in 5th grade. I am now in 10th grade.
Thanks.

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Will Kemp August 4, 2013

Hi Melissa, drawing is one of the most effective methods of engaging the right side of your brain, but it can take practice.

Have a look at this article on a technique to get your creativity flowing by concentrating on very repetitive shapes and marks which the logical left hand side of the brain finds boring, and repetitive, so enables the right hand side to sneak in.

It might seem counter-intuitive to start with and you feel pretty silly when you first start doing it, but it’s one of the most effective ways of going into that trance-like meditative state.

Hope this helps,

Will

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Lana August 18, 2013

Hey, thanks for this!
I really want to be able to draw as I have the idea in my mind.
I can picture the moment with all the details and yet when I try to put it onto paper it doesn’t seem to work out :(
I also like writing as it’s a way for me to let my ideas out but I really want to be able to draw.
I was doing a portrait for art at school and I was instantly able to draw brilliantly, but the next day I went to finish it off and I was back to the same old bad drawing me. Any thoughts on this? Thanks again!

Lana

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Will Kemp August 18, 2013

Hi Lana, often when you first finish a drawing or painting you’re really happy with the results, but the next day, with fresh eyes, you start to notice all the mistakes and aren’t as pleased with the picture.

This happens to everyone and is how your work can progress, just like writing a rough draft and then editing parts out or adding lines in to finish the story, the same approach is used with drawing and painting.

Hope this helps,

Cheers,
Will

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Brandon Austin August 27, 2013

Hello. I’ve always been able to think of amazing things to draw but I give up thinking it looks terrible. I can never draw things the way I see it. The few things I do draw are extremely abstract. I still have problems. I don’t know what to do. But this article has helped a bit.

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Will Kemp August 27, 2013

Hi Brandon, pleased you found the article helpful.
Cheers,
Will

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Maria Isabel Dela Cruz October 8, 2013

This is really a great article and would love to share to others!

I need advice/help, I and my bf studies in an art school, and he struggles ‘too’ much to learn how to draw. He’s an aspiring comic artist but the problem is… he’s been practicing for almost 4 years already and there is only a minimal change of his drawing style. He has a slight carpal tunnel syndrome and he can’t draw clean lines. Plus he has some attitude that is difficult to deal when it comes to teaching him (I tried)

With this kind of attitude plus his with CTS, will he ever learn to draw properly?

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Will Kemp October 8, 2013

Hi Maria, pleased you’ve enjoyed the article, yes, anyone can improve the standard of drawing by learning how to ‘see’ rather than precise pencil control, so your friend could definitely improve his drawing.

Cheers,
Will

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Georgina October 18, 2013

What a wonderful article Will and I love so much that you answer all of your posts comments. That is so thoughtful of you. Even though I have met many art professors, you are the first person I feel compel to ask this inquiry I have in me for years. Why is it that I cant be as good as drawing from imagination/my mind, than I am when I draw from observation? I am so good at it, by I cant illustrate from my mind. When I went to art school, I was among the top students in my still life classes and painting classes Will, but I became close from quitting as a design student because when it came down to translate an idea I ‘clearly’ and so creatively and vividly had in my head, I couldnt translate it to the paper, it was so frustrating I would cry so heavily. However, in all my still life courses, I could live there forever, the passion that it involved, was amazing..and I was constantly told I had really great drawing skills, but secretly, I used to do everything and wished from the bottom of my heart to be able to draw ideas, characters and concepts ‘out of my mind’ like my magic illustrator friends did. I dont know how they did it. I felt why would I make it as a designer if I cant draw from my mind. I can draw, but just not from my mind. It is just weird. Yes, something will come out, but not as good as it would from life observation. I am still trying to overcome this and it is very frustrating to the point it makes me wonder if although I have all this natural creativity flying in my head, if I can even be really that good of a designer. Wish it would be easier to turn all my ideas into paper and that’s why its easier for me to ‘ art direct’ as I know I am a complete ‘visionary’, but not knowing to draw from my mind, clearly affects. Even to do story boards!! What do you think? Would there ever be hope for me?

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Will Kemp October 18, 2013

Hi Georgina,

Great to hear from you and you bring up an interesting point about working from memory.

It can be developed and I think you’ll find this series of articles really helpful, Darren has recently published a book on the subject called, ‘Memory Drawing: Perceptual Training and Recall’

Hope it helps,

Will

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Davi December 18, 2013

Hello Will,
Thanks a lot for the very good article.

I’m trying to learn how to draw, but I keep reading about how I need to use my “right side of the brain”. However, I see myself as a very logical and rational person. My personality can totally be described by the behavior of the left brain. I’m a computer programmer, science enthusiast and math lover. I can’t identify myself with anything you said about the right brain.

I actually love to play the piano though, and I love music, but I’m not very inclined to visual arts.

Do you think I can learn to draw? I have a lot of free time and interest, but I somehow can’t turn that into actual learning. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks a lot, again.

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Will Kemp December 19, 2013

Hi Davi,

Pleased you enjoyed the article, yes , I do think you will be able to learn how to draw. Often it’s a case of learning a few techniques that are aimed to question what would seem a logical way to draw – as in focus on the main object, then you can start to make progress. It might initially be a bit tougher, but practice and perseverance will make the biggest differnce. You mentioned you where a computer programmer so might be interested in this article by Paul Graham (he also has a book called book ‘Hackers and Painters where the Author looks the many similarities between being a successful painter and programmer. You’re closer than you think!

Hope this helps,

Will

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James Hammond December 22, 2013

Hi Will
I’m thinking of joining your art course but just wanted to check something with you, about conflicting views. Some artists say ‘draw what you see, not what you know.’ Yet others will say that you can’t really draw, for example, an eye unless you understand how it fits into the cranial socket — which therefore means a knowledge of anatomy — so wouldn’t you be drawing what you know rather what you see? Some say always draw from light to dark, others say exactly the opposite. Some say that you should never use an eraser, but others (like you) say it’s okay. I’ve bought loads of how to draw books but find it almost impossible to use them because one says one thing, another says the opposite! Will your course be able to clear up some of these confusing views? Cheers. James.

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Will Kemp December 22, 2013

Hi James,

I always adhere to the ‘draw what you see, not what you know.’ school of thought first.

Then, as your perceptions and observation skills improve, you can start to learn more anatomical info.

If you understand how your perceptions work first you can then add refinement from there.

Sounds like you might have analysis-paralysis, so much conflicting advice, I do appreciate it can seem a little confusing!

The drawing course goes through the basic principles of drawing, and how to draw a subject in front of you.

Techniques of working light to dark, using or not using an eraser etc are personal preferences and vary from artist to artist. The best way is to find one book or course and try that method, it might suit you perfectly, or it might not be the approach that suits you, but its best to start one and follow it through to see.

Its just like learning to paint, from abstracts to photorealism. They are all under the banner of ‘painting’ but vary dramatically in technique and approach. Drawing is much the same.

Hope this has helps James and hasn’t confused you any more!

Cheers,
Will

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Judy December 27, 2013

Dear Will,

Thanks very much for your article. I’d like to share a few things I found really helpful with everyone. Whenever I have time, I want to paint.There’s something very rewarding and immediate about slapping colour on a canvas. Paint is also very forgiving – you just paint over any lines you don’t like. Drawing is trickier but is the basis for good observation, expressive lines and it really does enhance painting skills.

I did your drawing course back in March 2013 and found it extremely helpful. Working through the structured units gave me the discipline I needed and was inspiring when I saw my progress. It also helped me during a subsequent study course where I found out that, although I’m right-handed, I perceive proportions and shapes better when I draw with my left hand. I really would encourage everyone to try drawing with their left hand. I don’t know whether it activates the right-brain but after getting over the initial wobbly attempts, I was pleasantly surprised. Of course my right hand still steps in when I need more control but I study at art schools and academies and all say that a loose line is the thing to aim for, not expressionless diagrams.

Once the courses were over, my paints were calling again but I was determined to develop my drawing skills further. Thankfully I discovered, how much fun it is to team up with an artist friend in the same boat and go and sketch at the local zoo and botanical garden. Booking the time made us stick to it and we exchanged tips and encouragement. Moreover, drawing became a special way to observe and appreciate the beautiful animals and plants. We forgot about “correctness” as it became a race to portray a quick impression before the animal moved! We discovered too that certain animals e.g. elephants were -surprisingly- not so good to draw because they sway a lot. But the camels proudly posed for us and enjoyed looking at their resulting portraits too! The result? Loose lines, as we didn’t have time to think too much!

Would you consider doing a follow-up to your drawing course? I’d love to work through another one of these and develop further.

On a related issue, could you also tell me the best way to display drawings intended for sale without spending a fortune on frames and mounts? My local art supplier wanted to send me down this route. I’ve seen some at a local college where it looks as though they’ve stuck paper to cardboard, maybe using masking tape and used a simple white wooden frame. But is this a big no-no?

Any guidance would be gratefully received!

Best wishes,

Judy

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Will Kemp December 30, 2013

Hi Judy,

Thanks for sharing your experiences of your drawing journey, and its relationship to your painting. I do have a future drawing course planned which will probably focus of drawing portraits. Apart from the mount/frame route the only other way is, as you mentioned, actually gluing the drawings to a surface, or drawing onto a surface that has been designed to hang on its own, without a frame – a board prepared with a drawing ground for example. I’m hoping to add an article on framing in the New Year.

Thanks again Judy.
Cheers,

Will

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Judy January 13, 2014

Hi Will,
Great news about the portrait drawing course! I’m looking forward to it, also to the article on framing. Thanks for your advice about displaying drawings. Perhaps I should have explained, these are drawings on sheets of paper from a life drawing course. I can’t say which ones are going to work out and be worth displaying in advance, so the board with the drawing ground is unfortunately not an option here. Gluing them to cardboard would be the better route but which glue is the best – a clear one like UHU or am I better off with Prittstick? Thanks for your help in advance.
Best wishes,
Judy

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Will Kemp January 13, 2014

Hi Judy,

Spray mount from 3M’s can work very well and give you a good even finish. You can spray to cardboard or thin MDF board.
It can also work well for watercolour paper to prevent it warping.

Cheers,
Will

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Judy January 16, 2014

Great suggestion, I’ll give it a go. Thanks very much Will.
Judy

Tyler H January 3, 2014

Hmm… I guess I should try this, I do tend to talk when I draw, but I also have bad hand writing… You think that affects my drawing? I have always written the same way since a very young age, if you have any tips to help me draw or write better that would be a big help…

Thanks for the article anyway! :)

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Will Kemp January 7, 2014

Thanks Tyler, trying to draw without talking can make a big change in the accuracy of your observation with your drawing.

Cheers,

Will

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hari January 9, 2014

One of the biggest hidden gems I discovered is to get the lowest level of detail right, before attempting to add another level of detail. Line drawings are notoriously hard to get right the first time and takes so many attempts to master. I’ve fallen into the trap many times, thinking my line work is good enough, but it isn’t and then no amount of detailing in helps rescue it. I think it’s what frustrates many beginners. However, the good thing is that once your base shapes are right, drawing in the details become ridiculously easy, almost fun.

Also the early mistake of trying to “draw in” every detail you think should be in the picture, rather than what you actually see. I don’t know much about the left/right brain issue, but at least here’s some inspiration for people who think drawing is hard:
My first serious attempt at portrait drawing: http://harishankar.org/blog/entry.php/jeremy-brett-portrait
My current level: http://harishankar.org/blog/entry.php/cho-ramaswamy

Your feedback would be much appreciated too. :)

Portrait drawing is actually a fun way to get into art, because it gives measurable results and you know where you improve; all while increasing your observation and skills.

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Will Kemp January 9, 2014

Hi Hari, thanks for sharing your experiences of your drawing methods, you’ve made a massive jump forward in your skill levels.

Thanks again Hari.

Cheers,
Will

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hari January 10, 2014

You’re welcome. And I have to say your insights in this essay are brilliant. I’m always inspired by pro artists who encourage beginners like us to improve and give a clear path to do so.

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Will Kemp January 10, 2014

Cheers Hari,

Will

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Matthew January 12, 2014

I am very good with music, and I try to draw some things that I would really like to be able to and they come out as contorted, weird figures. I compose my own music because I can get into that “zone” but with drawing, I have a problem with entering it. I have no clue why.

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Will Kemp January 12, 2014

Hi Matthew, different mediums can take different times to get ‘in the flow’, this is normal.
Cheers,
Will

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Alice Wagner January 16, 2014

Is it bad that your site came up opon a search query of ” I can’t draw worth a crap”? I guess I am not the only one to have difficulty with drawing things.

I can sort of draw something, when it is in front of me (or in a photo). But does this apply with things you are trying to draw “out of mind”? That is, just making it up as you are going along? That for me is the challenge.

Thanks! And I’ll be back!
Alice

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Will Kemp January 17, 2014

Not bad at all Alice! drawing from memory takes a different skillset that drawing from life, you might find these articles helpful on memory drawing. Darren also has a new book on memory drawing.

Hope it helps,
Cheers,

Will

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Virginia January 20, 2014

Hi Will!
Your article really helped me! But sometimes when I draw, it still seems like I can’t get the drawing to look like I want it to. Insee the image in my mind, but I can’t get that picture on paper the right way. Any suggestions?
Thanks!
Virginia

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Will Kemp January 23, 2014

Hi Virginia, if you’re after a realistic effect it is always best to work directly from observation, as soon as you start to ‘see the image in your mind’ it can distract from observing the actual object in-front of you.

Cheers,

Will

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Kamal February 9, 2014

hi. I found your article very interesting. I just wanted to share and get your opinion or advice in my case. here’s the deal I’ve always been really good at sketching and drawing things I see in front of me especially cartoons (even the very detailed comic book characters) however whenever I try to draw the same thing from my imagination it always turns out to be a total disaster.

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Will Kemp February 9, 2014

Hi Kamal, it’s a case of practicing the shapes and understanding the forms to make a shape, have you seen any of Mark Crilley’s excellent tutorials?

Cheers,

Will

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N March 2, 2014

I never thought that it’s all about how the the left and right brain works. Thanks to your tip, I managed to shut my left side of the brain shut up coz of music and noticed that my drawing got slightly better. I’ll never forget this tip of yours.

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Will Kemp March 3, 2014

Pleased you found it helpful Noel,
Cheers,
Will

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shana spinelli March 4, 2014

i really want to learn how to draw so i can be a tattoo artist when i get older but im a very bad drawer but i want to no if i keep tracing will my hand get used to the movement and will i start to draw good? also is drawing pictures and drawing a tattoo different ?

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Will Kemp March 5, 2014

Hi Shana, to draw an effective tattoo you need an eye for detail, design and a steady hand, but the principles of drawing remain the same.
Cheers,
Will

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Patrick Guindon March 18, 2014

This is a fantastic article! I’ve shared it with friends, artist-friends and fellow elementary teachers who “teach” art but aren’t comfortable in it themselves.

When I draw, I find my inclination is to simplify to a cartoon-like state. I don’t necessarily want to do this or like to do this. Is this just a case of needing to continue drawing, drawing, drawing, or should I be “copying” styles I am drawn to instead of just sketching from imagination? (Or both? Or something else? I am very frustrated with my sketch book lately.)

Thank you!
Patrick

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Will Kemp March 18, 2014

Hi Patrick, pleased you found the drawing article of interest. For developing your observational skills then drawing from life is always the best way to progress. ‘Copying’ styles that you like can be a fantastic way to understand how an artist approached a drawing (Master copies are an excellent way to develop classical painting skills)

So it depends on what your end goal is, if it’s more concept art, working from your imagination can be a great skill to practice, if it’s a more realist approach studying from life will be the best method.

Hope this helps,

Will

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Spencer April 3, 2014

Ive referred back to this several times but I can never get it right… still

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Will Kemp April 4, 2014

Hi Spencer, have you tried the latest article on light and shade? drawing tutorial part 2 coming out next week.
Cheers,
Will

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Lex April 4, 2014

Hello Will!
I’ve so much to say, I’m not sure where to begin!
I’m a software developer from southeast United States. While seemingly irrelevant, this gives me a deep appreciation for the amazingly plentiful and richly informative plethora of tutorials(FREE EVEN! Wow =0 ) and posts, blogs and articles you have available on your wonderfully organized, professional website. I develop websites on a daily basis this is no small chore! Not to mention, the sheer quality of information (and so much of it!) that you provide here free of charge that covers such a broad range of drawing and painting essentials far exceed any other available resources, even those with subscription-only paid access. Your site is truly the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow! If someone had told me such an astonishing amount of professional teaching and guidance were freely available, I would have assumed they were a pathological liar. =P
With all that said, your time, effort and passion for your work and devotion and responsiveness to all of your students is greatly appreciated and unparalleled. You truly are a gem and have inspired so many people and so many more to come!

I have created a folder on my phone especially for links to your various tutorials and articles because I just can’t seem to stop reading them. I’ve also even created an email account especially for your newsletters and updates, so as to not have to look at any other mail in my inbox and be able to go directly to your newsletters. =D

I’m a self-taught artist and musician. My father, rest his soul, was my biggest creative influence. He taught me music and not how to draw but how to see from a very young age. Thankfully, I inherited his artists eye and musicians ear. I know that to an extent, artists are not born, but are trained, but I like to think that my grandfathers beautiful creative woodworking and my fathers unique artistic abilities have been genetically passed to me and are what fuel my need for creative outlet and understanding for artistic concepts. This is why, I felt compelled to attempt to express my gratitude to you for this priceless growing resource that you have provided to the world.

I’ve yet to barely scratch the surface of this mountain of knowledge and acquired wisdom. I feel confident that I can use your site for years to come to grow as an artist from beginner concepts and techniques to mastery.

I’ve even reviewed some of your available paid online courses and I am in awe of the affordability of such in depth and interactive “why’s and how’s” (as you put it) of so many topics in such a broad range from beginner to advanced for drawing as well as painting. This is a glorious dream come true for me.

It’s even worth mentioning, (you may have not thought of it this way) that since you have such a massive amount of free tutorials and guides available for a beginning artist to work through, that this is a great help in allowing the new artist to use their extra funds that would have been used for art classes or workshops, rather in purchasing higher quality drawing and painting supplies while initially building their artistic “tool box”, as I call it, which in turn allows for them to have greater level of progress and better results. I had personally began painting using cheap, low quality paints and had less than desirable results, not knowing how much of a profound impact the quality of my materials would have on my work. It was only after investing in a higher quality grade of paint products that I was astounded by the difference these things made in my finished product.

Finally, I wanted to express my appreciation for the level of effort that I see you put forth in interacting with your students. Your speediness in responding to comments to your articles and tutorials. I’ve seen questions remain unanswered in public forums for far too long on all sorts of websites. Only here, have I seen the founder of such a site respond to not only a few but every single posted comment by visitors and students. It is an honor to even have stumbled upon your site and I will henceforth direct any and every inquisitive artist that I cross paths with to your lovely art school.

I am sincerely sorry to take up so much space here with such a long post, but not even these numerous words can accurately convey how thankful I am for your work and effort. One final compliment ~ I thoroughly enjoy viewing your video tutorials, in particular because I love your accent! =P

Keep up the fabulous work Will! You are one of a kind and deeply inspirational.
Sincerely,

Lex =)

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Will Kemp April 5, 2014

Hi Lex,

Lovely to hear from you, and thanks so much for your more than kind comments on the art school site. So pleased that you have been enjoying the tutorials (and accent!) have a great weekend.

Cheers,
Will

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Lex April 7, 2014

This may not be the appropriate area, but I have a question regarding preparing the surface upon which I will be painting. Before I ask, a pinch of info:
I use liquitex acrylic paints to paint landscape type scenes on to flower pots. This may not be the best paint for this task, but I like the versatility of acrylics. Anyway, since traditional flower pots come in reddish orange from the store, they already have somewhat of a ground. I was considering “preparing the pot” surface with a more neutral, perhaps even dirt or dust color to show through as earth behind leaves, trees and grass that I paint on the pot. Are there any no-nos as to what color is used for the under painting? Would a dual tone initial layer be ok with earth tone below the horizon and sky tone above? Any input is appreciated, I know clay pots may not be your forte.
Thanks,
Lex

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Will Kemp April 8, 2014

Hi Lex,

Acrylics will be great for this sort of project.

Have a look at this video on coloured grounds, you can use any colour that you like that will most complement the scene.

Hope this helps,

Cheers,

Will

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Susan Flood April 7, 2014

Hi Will,
I have struggled for years to get my left brain to quiet down, and have discovered that listening to music, especially jazz,especially piano, non-vocal, is my fast track into the flow. There is a lot of research to support music as a right -brain function (although it is comlex) so it makes sense to me that it aids in the creative process of art. I would encourage others to find music that might help to deliver them to the “flow”!

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Will Kemp April 8, 2014

Thanks for sharing Susan, so pleased you’ve found music as a great way to get into the flow!

Cheers,

Will

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Mariam May 1, 2014

i have a problem that is i cant draw though i dont speak while im talking i draw when im all alone and things are calm but still i dont see better results of my drawings at all can you help me out with it?

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Will Kemp May 1, 2014

Hi Mariam, if you’re drawing in silence that’s a great start! I’m releasing an updated version on my absolute beginners drawing course in the next few days (with a launch week offer), that would be the best way to discover some of the blocks that might be holding your drawings back.

Cheers,
Will

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Arcaine May 22, 2014

Hi Will.
This is a really interesting topic, and all you said here really makes sense.
I’m going to explain my situation right now. Lately, I’ve been thinking that I’m too impatient when I’m drawing. I want to see the finished drawing, but I want it quickly and I want it to look good, and at the end I get frustrated because it doesn’t look like I wanted it to be.
I’ve been to a few art classes in the past. I think I pretty much know how to look at an object and draw it, so right now what I want to do is, for example, draw an apple that it’s not even there. However, I can’t completely visualize what I’m going to draw and then reproduce it on a paper. So when I copy a drawing, it looks good, but when I’m creating my own, it looks terrible.

Reading your post made me think that I’m really a left-brained, and that I’m better at writing than drawing. When I’m writing, I feel the state of “flow” that you describe, and I’m not in a hurry to finish a chapter or anything, I just enjoy it and write until I run out of ideas. I want to feel the same way when I draw as well.

Another thing that I think that makes me impatient is my deviantArt account. When I just finish a drawing I automatically upload it there. I’ve been thinking that I should just draw and cease my account activity for a few months, so I might be able to focus more. Do you think this will help?

Anyway, I want to get rid of my impatience and actually enjoy the process of drawing. And I want to be able to visualize something on my mind and draw it like I see it. Any tips?

Thank you, and good job on this site, all of your posts seem to be really interesting and helpful! :)

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Will Kemp May 24, 2014

Hi Arcaine,

Pleased you found the article of interest, drawing can take time.

Especially if you’re trying to achieve a realistic effect. Some of these cast drawing studies from the Angel Academy of art take over a month, per drawing.

So it sounds like you’re trying to achieve an end result that would be very hard for anyone to achieve within the time constraints you’re placing on yourself.

Take it easy on yourself, as the inner critic can be quick to judge on a drawing that just needs a little more time.

Hope this helps,

Will

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Arcaine June 6, 2014

Hm, I see. Thanks for your reply.

By the way, do you have any advice on how to practise drawing something I see on my mind? Because, as I said, I can’t draw anything I’m not looking at, and I want to have my own creations at least once.

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Will Kemp June 7, 2014

Hi Arcaine, you might find this series of articles on memory drawing by Darren Rousar helpful, he also has released a book on the subject.

Cheers,
Will

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Arcaine June 8, 2014

It seems to be, I’ll read it right now. Thank you!

Blake June 10, 2014

Dude your a genius. This puts so much into perspectiveand is truely motivating! Thanks a ton.

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Will Kemp June 12, 2014

You’re welcome Blake, pleased you found it helpful.
Will

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Dan Paleto July 9, 2014

Getting into car design. The thing is I’ve never drawn anything this in depth or really anything in depth. My biggest accomplishment could possibly be stick figures. I have the ideas and awesome concepts of cars in my mind but putting it on paper is an issue I cannot overcome at this momment. Since I’m a huge beginner do you recommend this video set for me?

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Will Kemp July 12, 2014

Hi Dan, the course teaches how to learn how to draw by observation, it doesn’t cover concept drawings or 3D design principles which would be more beneficial for car design, so wouldn’t be the best course for you.

Hope this helps,
Will

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William Wollam July 19, 2014

Hey, I loved this truly. I’m at a part where I really want to start drawing and break away from my comfort zone. As I was reading I was nodding at all the things I catch myself doing. Talking a lot in my head or to a friend, or drawing a eye or mouth not to perfection and then saying that it’ll never be good. This gave me hope that I will get better!

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Will Kemp July 20, 2014

Great to hear it William, pleased you found it helpful to keep strong on your drawings!
Cheers,
Will

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Maryanne Smart July 26, 2014

I’d like to add my 2 cents :P
I went from drawing pretty badly to drawing well after changing 2 things:
1. Be more patient: if something doesn’t look right, erase and try again. and again, and again.
2. Don’t edit: the nose might look huge, the eyes look small, or the neck looks fat, ignore the urge to edit. Stay true to the subject material and don’t try to beautify as you go. You’ll end up with a half cartoon version of your subject.

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Will Kemp July 27, 2014

Thanks Maryanne for your thoughts,
Will

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Fatima August 5, 2014

I read this page twice because I enjoyed the informative contents! I like most the part of “3 reasons why you can’t draw” and they are absolutely right! I noted that I talk I can’t even color the paint! , and when I start a paint (alone) I would suffer from the internal critics and would stop drawing. I have a friend , who is a painter, to follow up , encourage me, and try to kill myself criticism. Actually I couldn’t imagine that I can produce a single paint, thanks God ! I have 4 now!
So, for those who have severe self criticism (as I had) I advise to find a painter or a trusted friend to support them and try to kill the negative thoughts and judgement on their drawings/ paints.

Many thanks for this informative website! I learned a lot and yet many things to be tried and learned! Really thanks!

Regards,
Fatima

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Will Kemp August 5, 2014

Great to hear you enjoyed it Fatima, and pleased your paintings are going well!
Cheers,
Will

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Emma September 2, 2014

This has been pretty helpful, since I am not not too old, I am somewhat young. I have two really good drawers in my class, and I don’t like asking for them to draw me a picture. I can finally draw one myself :D

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Will Kemp September 3, 2014

Good one Emma,
Cheers,
Will

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Talish September 5, 2014

Great article, but I am bit confused. When you say to draw the shape around the object, lets say a lamp, am I to look at the outer part of object? Like if the base of the lamp has a curve, should I be looking at the outer part of curve and go from there?

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Will Kemp September 18, 2014

Hi Talish, I’m looking at this shape around the object, so if the base of the lamp has a curve I’m looking at that curve and the space it creates next to the lamp.

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Jerry September 15, 2014

I’m an aspiring comicbook artist and the only real problem I have is learning to repetitively draw my comicbook character,trying to make her look the same each time. Please help me
Thank you.

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Will Kemp September 18, 2014

Hi Jerry, you might find this website, more focused towards drawing comics of benefit.
Hope this helps,

Cheers,
Will

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zaynab September 26, 2014

Thanks a lot,this advice have been very useful to me.

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Will Kemp September 26, 2014

Thanks Zaynab

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Phil.P September 29, 2014

definitely No.2 for me.
Comparing my attempts with the decades worth of work(and study/training) of my heroes like Durer, Bierstadt, Beaugereau, Ingres etc gives me much self doubt and frustration. Trying to become more happy with the process and the fact I actually got something down on paper should be the goal.

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Will Kemp September 30, 2014

So true Phil, comparing yourself with the past Old Masters is a sure fire way of self-doubt with your drawing. just try and compare yourself to you, and the drawing improvements you make.
Cheers,
Will

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Josh Berg October 19, 2014

I have never truly tried to do art on my off time since I am so bad at it. This article gives me a little bit of motivation to perhaps give it more of a chance.

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