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Am I Wasting My Time Learning How to Draw?

If this question has crossed your mind, the answer is a ‘No’. Over the years I have observed art classes being offered to budding artists and hobbyists that jump straight into painting with acrylics or watercolour. The teacher has selected an image or maybe offered an opportunity for the students to select their own and lead the class into applying colour after a basic drawing has been made. I have even witnessed a stencilled drawing being provided by the teacher to assist students to get to the colouring phase quickly.


In my opinion, this ‘helpful’ service to get to the good stuff of applying colour, might be a disservice to you when you try a create a successful painting away from the classroom.


Drawing is a basic fundamental, the essential building block. If you think of drawing as the cake and colour as the icing, think about what happens when you get the ingredient potions of the cake or the cooking temperature or timing wrong. Do you think that by applying more icing it will fix the cake? No. The same is for a painting. If your drawing doesn’t take into account the placement of the key element of interest, the perspective, proportions, lighting and tonal values, how the image leads you eye around the painting, not out of it, no amount of colour is going to fix your painting and you may become despondent.


I understand how exciting it is to see the colour being laid and a picture forming. My first strong memory as a child is of a gift of large box of coloured pastel sticks. The colours were so luscious, and I couldn’t wait to use them. I could over time create something pleasing to the eye but that was because I was copying someone else’s image. I didn’t understand why their image worked and why I was drawn to it until I took a deep dive into drawing.


An amazing thing will happen when you understand and practice the principles of drawing. You will not only have a very interesting image to apply colour to, but you will also have the freedom to create images, move things around in your drawing to create an image that works, rather than coping someone’s else’s work. I still remember my ‘ah ha’ moment when I was drawing the landscape in front of me and realised the tree was in the wrong place. So, I moved it in my drawing, and it was so much better.


I strongly urge you to explore drawing. There are plenty of YouTube classes and books. Spend the time making sure your drawing is works before applying colour.

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