View Full Version : Drawing Skills

05-20-2010, 04:56 PM
Ok, this is something I ponder about a lot. I feel like my drawing skills fall woefully short of where they should, were I creating the pictures I want to create (even though folks have said I draw "well"). Is that a convoluted sentence? Well, that's the state of me mind these days.

Are you satisfied with your drawing skills? Do you feel drawing skills are necessary? Are they necessary for your work?

And probably for clarification, I am thinking drawing representationally, in a traditional "skill" way. I by no means think that if you can't draw representationally, you can't "draw," but for argument's sake, let's say so.


05-20-2010, 05:35 PM
Am I satisfied with my drawing skills? Eh, not really...they used to be very good, but like everything else, "practice makes perfect", and having not drawing regularly for 10 years shows. But, I have been drawing pretty regularly, both from life and photos, and I can tell much improvement since I started again about 6 months ago. What I need to do is discipline myself to draw or sketch *30 min. every day*.

Do I feel drawing skills are necessary? Absolutely, yes! When looking at work posted here on WC or in galleries, etc., it is immediately apparent to me when someone has poor drawing skills. I'd say 95% of art instruction books I read say good drawing skills are a must, and based on my own personal experience, I agree.

If time/life/money were of no issue, I would spend time at one of the classical drawing ateliers to further discipline myself and improve my skills. While obviously one *can* paint without drawing skills, to me that just seems like a short-cut, and I think few would argue that 100% of masters - both old and modern - were/are exceptional draftsmen/women. It shows in their paintings.

The ability to draw, and draw accurately, is not a "talent", but a skill, just like riding a bike or learning to play an instrument. What separates "average" from "good" and "exceptional" is probably 5% talent and 95% practice, dedication and hard work. That goes for everything in life, though.

Want to learn to improve your drawing significantly? Take a figure drawing class! :) Even if you never paint portraits or become a realist painter, it will help.

That's my nickel's worth :).

Elena in Exeter
05-20-2010, 06:20 PM
I agree with Sonya. I haven't done any 'disciplined' drawing for years (20+) and do feel the lack of it. However, I find that it doesn't take much to get going again and that my hand and eye remember better than I thought.

I keep looking for classes by round here they are all either for beginners, during the daytime (I work) or very expensive!

I do feel that there are a lot of very good artists on WC who have delved deeply into every aspect of their art from the technicalities of their medium to the discipline of daily drawing. It shows too and I aim to follow as best I can! Drawing has got to be the keystone.


05-20-2010, 06:47 PM
About two years ago, I decided it was time to improve my drawing skills. I spent about three months over in the Drawing and Sketching channel taking the Drawing 101 classes. It was the best thing I ever did. I remember spending a week just on elipses, until it sunk in. I think it might even be better now, because there is a guide that just looks after the classes.

The Scavenger Hunt over in the Artwork From Life channel is another great place to brush up your drawing skills. After a couple of weeks of drawing different objects, I now feel comfortable with my drawing skills. Can they be better? Sure, but I feel comfortable enough to draw a still life setup for a pastel painting and have people know what they are looking at.


05-20-2010, 09:51 PM

As a kid I was always drawing something....even when I was not supposed to be....like doing my homework! Mama saw to it that I did the homework, first! As an artist herself, she was sympathetic and supportive, but homework was done first! :p

Through the years when I was teaching, busy with my family, it was difficult to fit in messy painting etc., but pencil and sketchbooks were my art buddies. After retiring, I was able to move back into painting in pastel and in watercolor. But, as I painted I realized that I really had not ever had a very good drawing course. Art in school and then at the university had some drawing, but mainly painting. Last year, I started in a series of on-line courses in drawing from Sandra Angelo and can't believe all that I have learned! At first is was sort of swallow my pride and begin at the beginning. I am SO GLAD I did! The amazing thing is that within a few months it started being reflected in my painting! I knew exactly where I want to put everything, and especially how I wanted to handle shading/values!

Yes, I think it is one of the most fundamental things for getting what you want in your paintings.

Doug's advice about the resources we have right here at WC is very good!

Anyone interested in Sandra Angelo and her classes,
here is her web site:

05-20-2010, 10:47 PM
Elsie...good to see your post here about Sandra Angelo's classes..May I ask which classes you took? I have looked at them several times as I know I need to greatly improve my drawing skills.

I know some folks say, well it just isn't that important, but I strongly disagree! My biggest problem with painting is the getting started part...unless it is a very simple subject or landscape I dread the drawing...I seem to be floundering right now with painting and I have about decided that is what is holding me back.

I attend a non-credit collage art class, although there is a "teacher"...well best said she is a beautiful painter, but not much of a teacher. She just doesn't get doing sketch books, or just drawing for improvement. She feels everything must be a finished painting. I get a little discouraged sometimes because lack of space and slow sales combined with her attitude kind of tempers my desire to paint! I think I best just take the bull by the horns, work in my pen and watercolor sketch book and stop keeping myself from enjoying my art!

Thanks for posting this ?? and the replies so far. Funny how I have known this for a long time, but just reading the different post really reminded me of my weak point...and what I can do to return to the enjoyment I once had with my art!

Thanks, Pam

05-20-2010, 11:44 PM
For me, drawing is everything. It is my first love (in the world of art!), and I enjoy it emmensely. It is where I began when I returned to my art (I stopped for 20 years), and how I approach all my work. I have now been painting for 17 years, and I'll never stop again! My paintings start with a sketch and layout, and without it I am lost. I'm not sure if that's good or bad (I guess it depends on who you talk to), but for me it works.

I'm thinking of keeping a daily sketchbook, with quick 15 minute works in it. It definitely keeps you sharp. When I do one-hour portraits from live models (my art club meets weekly and we try to do this at least twice a month), I'm now trying to quickly sketch the basic elements, then start to block in using shadows to capture a likeness. The size of the shadows gives you so much information. Really cool stuff.

Pam, everything you do doesn't need to be a finished painting! I say that because who needs the pressure? It's supposed to be fun, and that kind of pressure sure isn't! Sketching just for the joy of it, and to improve your skills, is a valuable and essential element to any artists repertoire. I encourage you to do it, and do it often! I just purchased a set of Derwent Tinted Charcoal pencils, and boy are they fun for sketching. Someone told me that some of the colors aren't lightfast, but I don't care, because I'm just using them for fun sketching. No pressure to make a masterpiece all the time!

I read Sonya's remarks about drawing accurately not being a talent, but a skill. I'm not sure I totally agree, but I do know that you can definitely improve your drawing by doing it often. I believe if your drawing and sketching skills improve, so will your painting. It has to also affect your understanding of values, which will also help your painting. Just my humble opinion, and 2 cents worth.

Fun thread, thanks for asking!

05-21-2010, 12:38 AM
I guess my take is going to be a little different. I realize that we often have discussed whether pastels is drawing or painting - and I'm not really going to go there - but in my opinion, every representational pastel we do is filled with drawing. Drawing is, after all, the ability to render something with accuracy; getting the general shape correct, creating values necessary to create form and depth, and to depict as much detail as needed. Most of our paintings require these elements, so every representational painting we do is filled with drawing. So you don't really need to work in a different medium to work on your drawing skills, in my opinion.

Now, it is certainly true that subject matter can play a big part in honing those drawing skills. There is generally more accuracy needed in some subjects like portraits and figures - where the slightest loss of accuracy is quite noticeable - as opposed to a landscape, where the artist can change the size and shape (somewhat) of trees and other features with no loss of recognizability. (OK, that's probably not a word!) Observing accurately and transferring the observation to the paper or canvas accurately are the basis of representational drawing and painting, it seems to me.

All that being said, I would say that learning the fundamentals - and drawing may be the most fundamental fundamental - is important! It is the foundation for most representational work. But the more I experience in painting - the more it occurs to me that the ability to use color at the highest level is what separates the great works from the merely good. I say that partly from my own experience. I consider my drawing skills to be well above average (and I did hundreds, maybe thousands of drawings before I began concentrating on painting), but this did not translate into becoming a successful painter. It is only in the past couple years - as my knowledge of color has increased (thanks to WC!), that I may actually be getting somewhere as a painter!

I guess as a final word, I would say that your drawing skills need to be good enough for you to accomplish your goals with each painting. If you feel your painting comes up short due to shortcomings in the accuracy of the represented objects, then, by all means, work on those drawing skills!


WC Lee
05-21-2010, 02:51 AM
Are you satisfied with your drawing skills?
No, my drawing skills has been slowly going downhill since I stopped drawing/sketching on a regular basis.

Do you feel drawing skills are necessary?
In my opinion, if one cannot draw accurately then one cannot paint accurately. While it is true that one can paint without knowing how to draw, but knowing how to draw can make a good painter better. And I agree, every master from the past to the present were/are exceptional draftsmen or draftswomen. I also agree that learning color theories and learning to use it to the fullest extent will make a huge difference in any painting, same with composition. However, no matter how good one is at using color and/or composition, if the drawing skills are lacking, it might turn what could have been an excellent painting into a "umm what is it?" type of painting.

Are they necessary for your work?
Yes, most of my paintings are portraits or figures and without the necessary drawing skills, the odds are that it would come out looking a bit abnormal.

05-21-2010, 09:06 AM
I have been involved in a slowly evolving Certificate program at the local Art College and have just completed my Drawing II course.... Everything that is said about 'practice makes perfect' is true.... I wouldn't aspire to perfect, but I find that with continual work, you might not perfect your eye (cause that is what drawing is fundamentally -seeing, and not letting your brain get in the way), but you WILL get better, and drawing will get easier.

The ability to see both the subject and the painting, as it develops, is fundamental to good composition, balance and value as well as form and line. A good drawing class will help you in all these things.

I am tackling a complicated composition of a group of children clustered around a bucket on a beach...I don't know that I would have done it without the improved confidence that my two lengthy drawing classes gave me.

Drawing never really gets easy.... but it can get easier!

05-21-2010, 11:44 AM
all good advice posted so far.
Myself - some days the sketch/drawing just flows on the page, and other times when i'm cramped and dismayed with the drawing.
Those bad days are a lesson, too; they happen.
So, there are good days and bad days. Very simple.
I never tried to get a job as a professional illustrator because of that inconsistancy, so my expectation of the process/product is more of an ideal and not day-to-day experience.
Part of the process is review and revision, evaluation and continuation.
( hmmm.. a self-realization here...?)
(whopee...<- aha, there's some 'attitude" kicking in...)
(and so, 'self-analysis' spins way away from the topic...)

For drawing/sketching, I use vine charcoal ( hard, medium, soft ), tissue, tortillion(stump), Q-tips, kneaded eraser, and occasionally 2B charcoal pencil at the finish to emphasize certain lines.
Lots of versatility with these materials, and i can easily alter/adjust the drawing as needed.
:} Ed

ps. i've edited this five times already... :rolleyes:

05-21-2010, 12:08 PM
Thanks everyone for what has become a very interesting and informative thread.

I think I agree mostly with Don. My previous life involved hundreds of life drawing classes...I'm not sure I ever want to see another nude model (although I think if you can draw the human form you can draw anything).
I suppose every time I pick up a pastel and paint, I am honing my drawing skills, and color skills, and compositional skills, etc. so thank you for that, Don!

Maybe it's like being a good writer. Knowing how to write well involves a solid foundation in grammar, punctuation, structure, etc. Nothing is worse than being engrossed in reading something and then you "pop" out of the moment because of a poorly constructed sentence or misplaced modifier.

I also disagree with Sonya's comment about drawing being a skill. I've seen enough amateur drawings to know when someone's got a real gift. That said, I also danced professionally for a while and saw that often, hard work "won out" over sheer talent.

I also disagree with WC's comment about all masters past and present being excellent draftsmen and women. Some were/are not, but there is something about their way of working, personal vision that obviated the need for drawing exactitude.

And now I have to disagree with Ed; a painting never spins that far from self-analysis! :lol:

Ok, well this whole thing came about because I was thinking about dying soon. No, not that. My mom passed away in October, at which point she had been drawing/painting for about 80 years.

I came out of the womb drawing, stopped for a while, started, stopped, etc. until now, at the age of 54, I'm wondering why am I doing this, as I'll never have the 80 yrs of experience that my mom did. Crazy, huh? Just one of those mother daughter things. She was a draftsman extraordinaire, and I'll probably never draw as well as she did.

The unanswerable question is, is that enough?
Again, thanks all! Anyone else?

05-21-2010, 02:05 PM
Chuas, my drawing skills are not particularly good, at all. I basically only draw rough outlines of objects, and the rest is done *painting*.

My father could take a scrap of paper, draw four lines, and there would be a carricature of a politician, totally recognizable. I'll never reach that skill-level. In fact, graphite and charcoal bore me, I need living colours!

Having said that, I'm thinking of improving drawing skills.

I'm more of the persuasion that one learns what one finds a desire to learn, not the other way around. Right now, I feel a need for better drawing skills.


05-21-2010, 02:37 PM
" the unanswerable question is, is that enough? "...
short answer - ' you are where you is '...
sorry for your loss.
respects, Ed

05-21-2010, 04:54 PM
I believe that the ability to draw is both a talent and a skill. A person with no natural talent for drawing will probably not, in most cases, be drawn to art because it's not very satisfying trying to draw when it just won't look right!

But, given some talent, which can make the experience of drawing pleasurable, I think one develops skill and skill in drawing can also be learned.

As A child I was always drawing, copying things around me. For some reason I did no drawing for several years and, when I came back to it, nearly 3 years ago, I felt very frustrated because I couldn't seem to get my lines right any more. So when I did animal portraits for my diploma I mainly traced or used a grid.

It's not long ago but I cannot remember the turning point when I decided to try freehand drawing again. I had learnt some techniques from art classes and from WC, the most important for me being to look at the negative spaces. Anyway, my drawing has improved no end and the nearest I get to using a grid now is to quarter my paper to help with accuracy. I still have a long way to go but I'm getting better all the time.

I think good drawing is very important in representational art.

05-21-2010, 08:33 PM
Good for you Ruthie! I still grid the heck out of my drawings, but I feel there's enough freehand drawing that I'm workin' those skills. Especially since my grids tend to disappear onto my arms and I'm left to draw the darn thing without it.:lol:

05-21-2010, 08:54 PM
I also disagree with Sonya's comment about drawing being a skill. I've seen enough amateur drawings to know when someone's got a real gift. That said, I also danced professionally for a while and saw that often, hard work "won out" over sheer talent.
Well, anyone can be taught to draw. Anyone. Therefore, it is a skill. I used to think it was a talent until I read Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which was our "textbook" in the college drawing class I took. I'm guessing you've never read it. Perhaps you should :wink2: . The "talent" part comes in when someone has the ability to readily access their right brain and drawing comes easily, vs. those who do learn, but it's a struggle. But, talent will get them nowhere without practice, dedication and hard work. Your last sentence made my point exactly.

I also disagree with WC's comment about all masters past and present being excellent draftsmen and women. Some were/are not, but there is something about their way of working, personal vision that obviated the need for drawing exactitude.
That was also me that said that, and I still stand by it :) . Unless you consider artists like Jackson Pollack or Andy Warhol to be masters. I don't, but that's neither here nor there. Even someone like Picasso, who was far from a representational painter, clearly had a foundation of good drawing skills.

I came out of the womb drawing, stopped for a while, started, stopped, etc. until now, at the age of 54, I'm wondering why am I doing this, as I'll never have the 80 yrs of experience that my mom did. Crazy, huh?
Nothing crazy about it, at least that I see! It sounds as though your mother was an influence for you to take up drawing, as mine was for me. That in itself is a huge gift, I think :heart:.

Charlie, I have to disagree with you that your drawing skills aren't good. There is no way you could pull off those complicated perspective paintings you do without good drawing skills, m'am! :lol: Besides, a simple sketch is still drawing and it still needs to be accurate for the painting to succeed.


05-21-2010, 10:26 PM
Sonya, actually I have worked through the Betty Edwards book, and maybe my "right brain" is dormant...

I also consider some abstract expressionist masters (and I was referencing WC's comment, not yours). That's also just my opinion but I stand by that too.

btw, I visited your blog and your work is very beautiful!

05-22-2010, 10:20 AM
Sonya, when it is a complicated drawing, I grid, then transfer it to the pastel paper. But, OK, I get by, but want to be better (just am not excited about actually *doing* the work ... :-)

All Masters Could Draw
No wonder they could, as they spent 2 years at the academy drawing, and were highly excited when allowed to use a sanguine conté. Took a year or two more before they were allowed to paint. No cameras, either, so they *had* to have skills, and trained a lot. And some drew better than others.


05-23-2010, 01:17 PM
I know that my drawing skills fall short and I have decided to start drawing everyday.

I'm like you Charlie, I like to use color!

But i also recognize that drawing is the basic foundation of representational art and I know it will make my paintings better. I have limited energy so i have used what little I have to paint but i think I will paint some in the mornings when my energy is at its best and then do the drawing later after my nap. i have two used copies of Drawing on the right side of the brain but have yet to actually read them/go through them. i think I will start there. i also have a couple of other drawing books, one is a figure drawing "class". i have worked from it but seem to get stuck in the same place every time I decide to work on my drawing skills. So, I just need too be more disciplined.
This is a great thread!


05-23-2010, 08:34 PM
About two years ago, I decided it was time to improve my drawing skills. I spent about three months over in the Drawing and Sketching channel taking the Drawing 101 classes. It was the best thing I ever did. I remember spending a week just on elipses, until it sunk in. I think it might even be better now, because there is a guide that just looks after the classes.

The Scavenger Hunt over in the Artwork From Life channel is another great place to brush up your drawing skills. After a couple of weeks of drawing different objects, I now feel comfortable with my drawing skills. Can they be better? Sure, but I feel comfortable enough to draw a still life setup for a pastel painting and have people know what they are looking at.

Those classes are still going....if you are a beginner, you must take the first five, then you can choose what you want...in 101....

In 102, the other set of classes - for more experienced artists...and the lectures and demos are given by artists in their own field of expertise...Dianna Ponting does a brilliant one one in pastels! But there are classes given by artists who are known to us....worth exploring! The best thing is they are all free!

05-24-2010, 04:55 PM

Pam, Sorry I did not get back to you sooner to answer the question about Sandra Angelo's drawing classes.
While I was tempted to start with some of the later, classes, I'm so glad now that I started at the very beginning!
I've taken, Drawing 101, the general beginning class. The amazing thing is that much of what I needed was not getting the outline, but all the shading and value work as well as proportions.
I'm working on the next two courses sort of together, Faces 101 and Pets 101. I'm nearly through with the Faces 101 and she puts you through very precise drawing of each of the features, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, folds/wrinkles and fabric and starts putting them together as you go along.
In September I'll be going to Dillman's art resort in northern Wisconsin for a workshop with her doing faces with colored pencil.
If you go to her site, she has samples of the videos for each course and you will get some idea what the course is about.

Hope this helps.

05-24-2010, 08:49 PM
Chuas, I saw her paintings when you posted them. She was good, yes. But she also did things in them that I would have handled differently. Like that is such a big deal.

You're not her, and I see a focus in your own painting that relies very much on strong drawing skills. Yet when you reach a point where it's comparable, your drawings and paintings still may not look much like your mother's because she was so much herself and had such a strong distinctive personal style.

Take, say, three artists I adore who all paint much better than I do: Deborah Secor, Dianna Ponting and Charlie (Colorix). All three have great drawing skills, basic drawing skills. Point them at a building or an egg or a pile of fruit or a scene and they would each pick up a piece of charcoal and get it onto the paper well, the sketch would be beautiful and accurate.

I would also lay you odds that if they did that at the same time, I could probably tell whose sketch was whose. For one thing, Ponting's sketch if she was preparing for a pastel might be an absolutely spot on precise contour drawing of every hard edge in the final painting. Deborah's would be like a black and white value snapshot of the painting, loose, clear and gorgeous enough to frame. Charlie's would be simple, elegant, accurate and concise with all the major forms blocked in with such perfect accuracy you could tell what it is without any details, because she puts in details last.

Paint-by-number, black and white snapshot or elegant abstract... and they can all draw well.

I was and have been pretty satisfied with my drawing skills for a long time now. This is why. My drawing skills are better than they used to be and nowhere near as good as they will be.

Every time I think I'm slacking off and getting too comfortable, not trying anything new... I look back and see that instead I've just been climbing mountains that seemed impossible a step at a time without noticing.

I used to really struggle over glass. I love the way a drawing of clear glass things looks, but I really fought for it to get that realism. Now I sketch it and it actually looks like glass. I know where I can simplify it and still get it to look clear, I'm not slavishly copying every single detail to get it right.

As I get better, drawing from memory becomes easier. This is opening up whole new doors for me. Places I've been, things I've seen at times in my life when I had no camera, maybe things that don't even exist any more may someday come to life on paper for me.

Yes, it's worthwhile to practice your drawing skills. WC classes rock for that. So does the Drawing and Sketching forum. So does the Pastel Sketch thread, that's been a joy to me with pastel pencils and charcoal and hard pastels. You don't even have to wander that far from dusties with it.

Scavenger Hunt rocks for a new list of life drawing subjects every 9 days. There's always a few zingers in the list, things that would be tough to draw, and some easy things. What they are depends on who you are and what's easy to you. Another good place to keep up a sketching habit and include sketches from photos and memory is the new Art Journals forum.

That's not just for fancy art journals with a title and a theme and lace inside glued to collages, or a birder's handbook or something. It can just be your sketchbook or a pad of charcoal paper. The cool thing in that forum is having a thread so that you can go back to earlier pages and see how much you've progressed.

Date your sketches. It does a whole lot to date them, that helps show how much you learned and what you learned when.

Drawing, like art itself, is not a zero-sum game. You can keep improving to your last breath and still draw better every time even past the point other people are going "OMG that is so good." I listen to Deborah or Charlie look at something breathtakingly good and critique it for themselves and know, they're seeing these things at those levels. I just learn from it, the subtle point that I didn't understand till they showed me.

So post your bad sketches too. With dates.

Somewhere out there in WC is a beginner so far behind you that what you did last week is OMG good and they'd frame it as the best thing they ever did if they'd done it. Maybe that person just joined. Seeing your blooper and your post explaining why you think it's a blooper can give that beginner some courage to post what they do.

Some of my recent sketches are not as polished and refined as the Graphitints eggplant I did two years ago that came out perfect. They don't need to be. It's my sketchbook... I am starting to learn that it's okay to go loose sometimes, lighten up, do sketches that are not full-on polished finished drawings suitable for framing and sale.

In fact, a beautiful sketch that loose can be something beautiful, suitable for framing and sale. Would you buy a quick preliminary sketch by Monet or Toulouse-Lautrec or Degas? Just some charcoal scribble of an idea for a painting, whether he actually did the painting or not?

That's one of the things I'm getting out of both the Scavenger Hunt threads and the Art Journals forum. I post it all, whether it's a color chart with a single round rock drawn next to it or a full page layout of gorgeous sketches or a full page watercolor pencil painting that came out great. The more I do, the faster, easier, more fun and better looking it gets. But still not as good as it will be tomorrow or next week or next month.

The more I do it, the more fun it is. That curve rises too. So don't be embarrassed at all to go back to basic drawing again and again -- even to basic drawing elements you already know and have done for years. This morning I did a value exercise in pencil shading. I've done that ever since I got a pencil in my paws, but I still learned something. I'm more comfortable drawing on textured paper now.

Enjoy it. You're doing something wonderful by this. You'll reach a point where like your mother, people who know your work will recognize it unsigned... and still have that momentum all your life the way she did.

05-31-2010, 02:40 PM
Robert Henri said "...drawing is painting and painting is drawing..."

Drawing was always frustrating for me. It still is. When I was a kid I could copy other drawings well enough but could not draw very well from life. I even started college with a major in architecture but switched to engineering after the first semester (after doing pencil sketching and poster making in arch. 101) because I thought I wasn't good enough. I didn't start painting until I was in my fifties and had retired from the AF for almost 10 years. That was almost 30 years ago. After all I needed something to keep me out of bars. I learned to use the acrylic medium on my own by just copying, and later took pastel lessons from a good teacher as well as attending workshops.

As I got more serious about painting, I needed to play catch-up. I had to resort to grids as a quicker more accurate way to enlarge images. This was time consuming and delayed the fun part of applying color. I used my own photographs to avoid any copyright infringement. First I used prints but it didn't take long to realize I could project 35mm slides. Using photos is another subject entirely and it involves pitfalls that I won't get into here. Suffice it to say I had to learn more about photography as well. This included composition.

Some consider the use of photos as "artistically impure," -- not to mention projecting them -- but then I have read that Degas, as well as other famous artists used photos on occasion One famous artist, Jan Vermeer, used the camera obscura in doing his cottage paintings. That was enough for me to rationalize any problems from my poor drawing skills and late start.

I have also done the "right brain" exercises from the Betty White book, and a few model life drawing sessions but drawing is still more work than fun for me. I do think that the act of painting has helped to improve my drawing.

I say use whatever you like, if it helps you make art!

see demos at

"I was once more ambitious but life has a way of intervening!"
I suppose you could say I am in my "Lazy Period."

05-31-2010, 04:10 PM
Well said Jim! I think I said in here that I have always drawn. Just to qualify that let me say I can copy a photo but I am still not good at drawing from life, although my portrait class has helped me with that. It's a steep hill but I do enjoy climbing it!

Deborah Secor
05-31-2010, 04:52 PM
Well, just to add to the discussion, I love to draw (and thanks for your kind words, Robert) but I honestly believe that some of the best painters I know paint better than they draw, mostly because that's what they do most of the time. Practice makes permanent, if not perfect (unless you draw/paint perfectly all the time...)

I learned to draw well as the need arose. If a painting demanded skill representing something, if I failed I'd study and learn it. I'll never forget having a friend ask me to illustrate hands (for a business card) and I gave her this insipid drawing. I still cringe when I think about how really bad it was (and thank God she didn't use it.) I was so miserable that I decided to do a whole series of hand paintings, and spent a lot of time studying hands and drawing/painting them. By that I mean that I did a very detailed underdrawing in charcoal on toned Wallis paper, capturing all the value relationships, and then I painted over it.

When I teach beginning pastel classes I always tell my students that they will learn to draw better doing pastels because it's a drawing/painting medium, plus when they come to a subject they want to portray and don't know how to draw/paint it, they can learn. It's like eating an elephant--one bite at a time.

I love drawing and painting, but I don't worry too much about what I don't know. When I was younger I wanted to do it all and do it better. My ego was pretty pumped up and I figured if 'they' could do it so could I. :o Now I know there are things I'll never get a chance to study and learn, but today is a dandy time to work on that one thing I CAN learn. That's part of why I'm painting in gouache now, doing miniatures/ATCs, and recently discovered still life, which I'm really enjoying (much to my surprise!)

I guess it comes of thinking this: "Today is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it." Drawing and painting is part of the joy of the day, no matter the limitations. Those are just opportunities, I think.


05-31-2010, 07:34 PM
I think it depends on what you are doing. If you are doing plein air, still lifes, or portraits not using photos then drawing skills are extremely important. But technology has made it easier for those of us that want to get the drawing part over with so we can start the painting. I find myself tracing the basic shape of whatever I'm working on from the computer screen and then adding whatever details are required. I started off trying grids but found it too time consuming trying to figure out grid size. I never remembered from painting to painting. So I have pretty basic drawings that I start out with. Since I've been doing Scratchboard I've found that although I start out with a basic traced drawing the detail that goes into scratching is very much like drawing but in a different way. That alone has probably improved my drawing skills if that makes any sense.

05-31-2010, 09:56 PM
First Jim, thank you so much for your service to our wonderful country. All of America owes much to those who have done so much to help keep this a free country!

Ok...now about the drawing. I have a projector and do use that as well, but would like to have a little more flexibility about my work. I find I spend way too much about how I am going to get the image down before painting. We travel a lot and I am looking for something much more portable than pastels might allow me at this point.

Deborah you are so right, for sure since I have bren using pastels I find I improving on the drawing skill, but still need practice. Something about that tactical experience without the brush handle in theree. One thing that has happened as well is that now I am a little more confident even with the brush, so for ma pastels have been a great step.

Also Deborah I Think your attitude is right, opportunities...A's you quoted, "this is the day...let us rejoice"!
I do have to say that I learn a lot on WC and find everyone so helpful that it is easier to meet the daily challenges one may encounter in the art world!