“So I, as many other amateur visual artists, did the worst possible thing when I first started drawing. I didn’t realize the need for studying anatomy, so I plunged out in trying to copy a specific artistic style. This was mainly, I think, because of my young age and my ignorance when it came to “real” art, I was eight years old when drawing really started to mean something to me. I started drawing because I wanted to give a visual image of my imaginary friends. As I had no friends when I was a child, drawing and making art started to mean more to me than other people. In some ways, it still does.
To improve as a visual artist, you need to be rigorously disciplined, have a fierce determination to achieve your goals, have infinite patience, and be willing to put in hours and hours of labor to get there. Being a visual artist is a major physical and mental challenge that many people are not prepared for. Your mindset is everything. I’ve seen students in my freshman drawing classes at RISD enter with almost no drawing experience absolutely soar with success because of how determined and disciplined they were. I’ve also had students with tons of drawing experience bomb because they had a lousy attitude and didn’t want to work hard or try anything new.
You have to make bad work if you want to make good work. See the mistakes you make as required parts of the creative process. Rather than punishing yourself for making mistakes and/or bad work, embrace the opportunity to learn something new. Don’t get too fixated on specific pieces of art that you make. Create the work, learn from it, and move on. The more prodigious your production level is, the less attached you’ll be to specific works, and the more willing you will be to experiment and try new things.
If you’re looking for some structure in terms of what to draw, I would recommend purchasing the book “Drawing: Structure and Vision.” There are a lot of really hokey drawing books out there; this book is the real thing. Written by two of my RISD colleagues, Fritz Drury and Joanne Stryker, the book covers all of the fundamentals of drawing and provides excellent historical and contemporary examples. There are also drawing assignments and examples of student drawings throughout the book. All in all, a worthwhile investment that will provide you some kind of reference to work from.
ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.
PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories! More info.
ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.
“How can I tell if I’m skilled enough?”
“How do you find your own individual style?”
“How do artists manage to get their soul out into images?”
“How do you develop an idea from a sketch to a finished work?”
“How do you make an art piece more rich with details that will catch the eye?”
“Is it bad to start another piece of art before finishing another one?”
“How do you work in a series?”
“When and how should you use photo references to draw?”
“How do you know when to stop working?”
2 thoughts on “Ask the Art Prof: How Do You Learn the Basics of Visual Art and Drawing?”
For me, art was very much discouraged from my family, so growing up I did have to teach myself everything through either online tutorials or old fashioned experience. Whenever I could get money, it pretty much always went towards buying art supplies. Lots of times I drew and painted in secret, I did plead for art lessons, but looking back I’m sort of relieved I never received them. I don’t think I’d have nearly as much drive as I do now, and most of my friends who did receive lessons were content to keep it as a hobby.
I remember taking my first drawing class two years ago in the summer at a community college. I loved every second of it, quite ecstatic that I could be taught at long last..
Reblogged this on Svariato and commented:
This is one of my favourite blogs. And it covers some essential points for people who want to learn how to draw SERIOUSLY.