I hate to tell you. The advice is the same advice you’ll hear over and over, especially in the realm of the arts: You’ve got to do it, a lot. You’ve got to try and fail and try and fail and get better. Eventually, you’ll be good.
If you want to learn how to draw, go out and buy thirteen (why thirteen? It’s a magic number.) sketchbooks. In the next couple of months, draw on every page. Fill the pages with drawing. Draw on both sides of the page. Draw, draw, draw. Bild zeichnen lassen Look at things and draw. Look at pictures and draw. Draw from your imagination. Draw symbols. Draw ideas. Draw.
And draw figures. That’s the hardest. If you can get a model, great. If you have to resort to pictures, well, I have a suggestion of where to go for that, for lots and lots of pictures of naked models. (Get virus protection for your computer.) The pictures may be erotic. Well, the figure is basically erotic anyway. I have to say, drawing figures with the clothes off (the figure, not you) is more difficult. Draw yourself in the buff. Draw from pictures, of people with clothes on and clothes off. If you are an artist learning how to draw, draw nudes. If you have a problem with that, get over it.
Draw from photos. Draw from life. Both are good, photos and the real thing.
Let’s get back to those thirteen blank notebooks. My grandmother, who was a terrific watercolor artist, collected blank notebooks. I swore to myself, when I was a kid, that is, I promised myself, that I would not leave any sketchbook of mine unfilled. I could not believe that she would have these wonderful little sketchbooks – she did miniatures; many of the sketchbooks were small – and she did not fill them to the brim. Still, she was a remarkable watercolorist and she drew a lot. But those blank sketchbooks.
I want you to remember that image, of the blank sketchbooks and the kid wanting those sketchbooks to be full. Maybe she didn’t have enough time to fill them. She did have other things going on. As do I. I shirk the other things sometimes. Okay, a lot of times. And work in the sketchbook. Or I write. Hence you are reading this article. At least here I am creating traffic to my site, or can justify my activity that way. Can you justify filling sketchbook after sketchbook? Maybe not. But you’ll have to fill those sketchbooks with a flurry of drawing – and not scribbling! Well, a page or two can be scribbling, but that’s cheating. You have to put something in there. Not junk.
You really have to try to draw. All the pages need to be filled up with your efforts, and they have to be efforts, not halfhearted ones. I get this from my master in Tae Kwon Do. The master tells us that every move has to be done with 100% of yourself in it, 110, actually. You have to put your heart in every move. So you have to put your heart into every attempt to draw.
Are there tricks? Sure. You will learn them as you draw. Tricks of perspective… The best way here is learning to draw from drawing paintings, that is, looking at a painting and drawing what you see, and from photographs – from stuff, basically, that’s already been scrunched down from three-dimensions into two. Do that as much as drawing from life and from your imagination. You’ll get better. Believe me. You will.
And it will be worth it, if you want to be appreciated as an artist. When someone sees that you can draw, they become believers. Anybody can call himself an artist. But not just anyone can draw well, and rare is the individual who can draw incredibly well. You have to work at it. So few of us do. Even fine artists. Same with other arts. Anyone can sing, but not just anyone can sing well, and few can sing incredibly well. To do that, you must practice and really work at it, and not just in the shower, though that is as good a place as any to begin. I, personally, like to practice singing when I am alone driving in my car.
Thirteen sketchbooks filled to the brim with honest effort, in two months… Are you kidding? Okay, twelve, then, for the Portrait zeichnen lassen twelve apostles. Was I just sacrilegious? I don’t mean to be. Only to suggest that you have to regard this activity with the same fervor and devotion you would your faith, whatever that faith is.
Religious fervor. Now that’s a topic for another article. Let’s stick with learning how to draw by doing it a lot. Twelve sketchbooks – you probably won’t go for that, either. How about TWO? One to fill up, and the other one because you know you need to fill up the first one so you can get to the second one. Try always to have an empty sketchbook on hand at the ready, waiting for you to finish with the one you’re working in.