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Old 09-19-2017, 05:41 PM
ntl ntl is offline
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Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

A recent thread here is titled, "CAN DRAWING BE TAUGHT?"
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/show....php?t=1425539

I've been struggling with drawing and painting. Especially these last few months. I was never a very good drawer. Even painting, I am slow, always have been, and it is really hard for me. I finally have a success here and there, but still, after all this time, all this work, it shouldn't be this hard, or take as long as it does.

During a discussion recently I related an incident from my childhood in which I was completely unable to draw a diamond shape, no matter how hard I tried, even though it was right there in front of me. Over the years, I learned it was probably a form of a vision problem and that was that.

After telling that story I remembered the problems I had/am having these last weeks drawing/painting a flower, and having to make adjustments over and over again in an area about 4"x4". I remember other incidents where I am attempting to draw other things, and need to make way too many adjustments on them, or redoing, repeatedly. I just get so discouraged. I know now that that vision problem is still affecting me. And has been all my life.

I never expected to get into any museums or even galleries this time around, but I really did expect progress. Yes, I know there's been improvement. Not enough, for all the time in, for the studying and doing.

I'll probably not, in this lifetime, be more than mediocre.

Which would be okay, if there was ongoing improvement that I could see.
Understanding there is a physical cause to it makes it worse for me: I don't see much chance for improvement.

I don't WANT to BE mediocre.
I'd rather be a natural yellow ochre, or a natural gold ochre, or even a beautiful brown ochre. Or a Blue ochre, or red...

It is very depressing. I guess I'll continue.

Maybe drawing can be taught.
I don't think everyone can learn to draw easily and with fluency.

Last edited by ntl : 09-19-2017 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 09-19-2017, 07:09 PM
wdaniels wdaniels is offline
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

Have you tried this book? https://www.amazon.com/Drawing-Right.../dp/1585429201
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Old 09-19-2017, 08:06 PM
MistyBlue2 MistyBlue2 is offline
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

I have that same problem. Everyone else in my family are good artist but I struggle. I can copy the how to books with the shapes to make different animals but I even struggle with that. Good Luck, though; as it sounds like you are not a quitter and neither am I. You know there are different types of painting, as well. If you're trying to paint a flower why not try the One Stroke painting on YouTube. I've done that and actually do pretty good with that kind of art. I'm strubburn, though; I want to do some landscape and seascapes. I just ripped 2 of them up yesterday and gesso'ed over a canvas of mountains, only to start all over again and will again and again if I have to. One other thing, when you paint, don't forget to step back and look at it. Sometimes, it's just really good. We can do it. We're going to keep learning. You and Me, We Can Do This. LOL
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Old 09-19-2017, 08:13 PM
MistyBlue2 MistyBlue2 is offline
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

wDaniels:
Does Drawing come from the right side of the brain? I'm wondering: because the title of that sounds like it's going to explain it that way. I'll have to investigate that more. I want to learn to do my art better too but I'd rather have a book that's going to help to teach drawing. I didn't see anything that explains what that book does. I'll have to check it out at Barnes and Noble; Then I can see if that's the book for me. Even my son can draw good; but he does struggle. He's better than he thinks he is, though.
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Old 09-19-2017, 08:28 PM
wdaniels wdaniels is offline
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

At least in the edition of the book I have, which was printed years ago, the author says that drawing is a skill that is done better with the right side of the brain. I believe that there is disagreement about that issue, but whatever the science, this is the only book I've seen that teaches people how to see, which is the whole key to learning to draw, in my opinion.
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Old 09-20-2017, 10:49 PM
ntl ntl is offline
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

I've had the book for years. Did the exercises when I bought it, and yes, I suppose they did help.
What I am talking about now is that because I don't see correctly, no matter how well I think I am doing, it's just not good enough. ie, I look at something and draw it. I look at it again, and see an error or two or three. I study the model, make corrections, and smile. There. I got it. Until I look at it again.
After repeating several times, re-measuring, re-starting, repeating. There, I've finally got it. OOPS. need another adjustment...
As I said, I recently finished a flower, following that process. Took a while. Had to re-do the basic shape. The petals, number of and shapes. the colors. re do the petals. the colors. the shapes. It took a while, not because it was with oil paint, but in the need for numerous adjustments, after doing what I thought was correct in the first place.

I have seen what few people can do in a few minutes, or a day or two. I spend weeks on similar work, and theirs is much higher quality. Sure, maybe they have been at it longer than I. My point is, I have been working at this a few years myself, and progress is basically nil. Very slow, and hard won.
This is a struggle, and now, being painfully aware of the vision situation, am finding it hard to go on.
Mistyblue, the book may help you. It may be available through the library or a used book store, local or amazon.
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Old 09-24-2017, 04:01 PM
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

ntl, are you drawing from photos, or from life? That makes a huge difference, as if you're drawing from life every time you tilt your head or blink you'll see a different scene, as the perspective changes.
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Old 09-25-2017, 05:01 PM
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WFMartin WFMartin is offline
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

There are so many really excellent "tricks", or "gimmicks" for learning how to draw, that it seems to me that nearly (no, not all) everyone should be able to at least improve his/her drawing results.

Effective drawing is nothing more complicated than being capable of placing a few, "key points" on a surface, and then joining them with appropriate lines or values.

When I paint portraits, I actually find it inappropriate to attempt to go through the operations of performing a preliminary "drawing" because I have discovered a better method of getting "things" in the "correct places", early-on--and for me to do a drawing would actually interfere with that. I go right to work on the canvas with brush, and paint. And, it is related to placing large values on the canvas, rather than trying to "cartoon" them with lines (drawing).
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Old 09-26-2017, 12:08 AM
ntl ntl is offline
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by D'Lady
ntl, are you drawing from photos, or from life? That makes a huge difference, as if you're drawing from life every time you tilt your head or blink you'll see a different scene, as the perspective changes.

I love plein air. I love being out to paint. I'm not good at it, in fact, lack of progress there made me more aware of lack of other progress. I continue with plein air because I (used to) enjoy it.
The rest is drawings or photographs, based on photos or found to help with imagination.
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Old 09-26-2017, 02:04 AM
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

I think: anyone who can write their name can learn to draw realistically if they want to.

I know that some days nothing I draw comes out right; I call them "bad line days". I used to frustrate myself to no end trying over and over to coax out good results, but it never worked that way -I just ended up with overworked paper, frazzled nerves and questioning if I ever wanted to pick up a pencil again. Now? I just put everything down and go do something else. It always seems that when I come back another day, it's all better.

It does take practice -a lot of it. If you're copying a photo, find a point on the paper -something small and easy to find, and use it as a guide to where everything else should be. Where does this shape meet that one? Where is the edge?

Also...ask yourself if "realistic" is really what you want? Do you really want to keep copying what you see, or does your hand/mind really want to do something completely different? At some point, Picasso had to say to himself "that's not even close to what I'm seeing...." and yet decided to just keep going!

Finally, if it's no fun; just stop for a while. There's no rule that says you have to keep slogging 'long with drawing or painting if it's not bringing you enjoyment. Maybe you'd rather just spend a few weeks carrying your camera 'round gathering references?
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Old 09-26-2017, 07:33 PM
ntl ntl is offline
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

All good points. Thanks!
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Old 12-26-2017, 12:07 PM
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

Yes, drawing can be learned by everyone. It is a learned skill, just as riding a bicycle is or cooking, etc. We have all struggled in one way or another and it is an ongoing endeavor. Until I set a goal with a new year resolution in 2006 to do it every day, it was very difficult; now is easier.
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Old 12-26-2017, 07:36 PM
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

I think anyone can become competent at drawing. Artistic, not so much.

However, remember: They no longer teach script, and many students (in their teens and younger) cannot hold a pencil correctly or write (print) in a legible way. They all type on keypads. Writing is becoming a lost art, and art uses similar fine muscle control and areas of the brain, so it may take sheer will and student interest to get a child to draw (in a way that is not just scribbling.) Look at the question again and ask whether "football" can be taught. Of course, it can. But a real NFL team is not like kindergartners tossing a nerf ball.

Also since this ridiculous assertion that there are no standards of excellence and no standards of art at all, and that nothing can be "judged."

I get in trouble all the time because I believe that some people have talent and some do not. I could never (and would never) sing in public or try to drop an album. It would be crap. But that does not mean I cannot sing. I can sing but not up to the standards expected of a true singer like Beyonce or Katie Perry.

Can we all draw? Yes. Can we all make a thing that looks something like the thing we are drawing? Yes. Are we all fine artists? NO.
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Old 12-27-2017, 02:49 PM
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KolinskyRed KolinskyRed is offline
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

Interesting, Katy, you mention script (cursive) writing. This brings back memories I have of moving from one town to another between grade 2 and 3 back in the '60s. In the new town they taught cursive in grade 2. And in my old town they taught cursive in grade 3. Here I was first day, the assignment handed out ~ in cursive.

I approached the teacher's desk and quietly/nervously told her we would be learning cursive in grade 3, I was lost. All these years later, I can still see her and hear her response: "I DON'T GIVE A F*&K! Do the work in writing, or I'LL FAIL YOU!" yikes.

Back to my desk. Chest crushed in pain, heart pounding against my ribs. Remember non-compliance in those days earned a child a trip to the principal's office and the strap.

More than half a century later I can still see the room, my desk, the cursive script on the cards posted above the blackboard, the work sheet in front of me, my pencil. I can see that the lines on the alphabet above the board matched the lines on my work sheet. Quickly looking back and forth from the script on the wall to the work sheet - back and forth - thousands of times - over and over and over ~ I copied what I saw onto my sheet.

I think that unfortunate and distressing experience created observation skills in me for future drawing. So, yes, things about drawing can be learned. It's finding one's own niche ~ without the emotional violence, without the threat of physical violence, of course! But, the determination that no one is going to help us but ourselves. When the student is willing/ready the teacher is there so to speak. Certainly finding all sorts of extra little (simple, slow and careful) tips for practicing observation and hand-eye coordination is great - the library, the internet. However, most material doesn't offer this to a learner - so we shouldn't feel bad about not flying to the heights the book/video/webpage promises.

What it does reasonably suggest is to keep trying no matter what, explore and experience all sorts of methods. When I tried the technique of carefully checking proportions coupled with overall general to specific - it took a while, it seemed slow and a bit frustrating - but I stuck with it every day for two weeks. I was surprised when I started my second drawing how much I had actually internalized, how much further along I was. And, while things started out very slowly, seemingly always too slow without progress - ah! But by sticking with things began, finally to pick up.

My only failing is in not keeping up with it, letting too much time pass between drawing sessions. If I stopped drawing for a while, I would slide backwards.

Hand-eye coordination, teaching the ol' brain new skills. Seeing as a drawing person ~ that's a new skill to teach the brain. I should share too that I've been reading up on the great artists of the 1900s who drew a lot for a living! And interesting enough, they almost all used drawing aids to lay down the basic framework. They all studied perspective techniques, and mapping out values, changing the line weight for effect etc. They all did a lot of warmup sketches - not matter how quick or loose still following the basic principles.

I think seeing examples of people drawing freehand, quickly, and beautifully is a bit oversold. Sure some people do it, but a lot of people don't.

Don't give up!

Food for thought, Cheers!

Last edited by KolinskyRed : 12-27-2017 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 12-27-2017, 06:02 PM
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Re: Can Drawing be Learned by Everyone?

I think people can learn to draw easily and with fluency. It takes a lot of practice more than anything else. For me, it worked well to follow books and videos. But drawing is like writing. It is just a skill. It takes hand-eye coordination.

If you learn while very young, it comes easily because very young children learn anything that easily. Whatever gets learned while your brain is literally growing - say before kindergarten or first grade - comes easy. You forget the frustration of all the fails and the success collapses into knowing you can do it. However, I'm going to address a couple of specific practices that seriously helped.

Anyone, even someone already good at it, can improve their drawing.

First, from "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" - date all of your drawings. That's right. Put the date on them. Sign them so you can't forget who did it. Keep sketchbooks.

Try other exercises from that book like turning your reference upside down to draw it. Breaking the context sometimes makes it easier to copy an irregular shape. Copying accurately is a natural stage of learning to draw, it's still necessary later on when you get more selective about what to copy and what to change.

Next: set a timer. Give yourself two minutes to draw something. When the buzzer goes off, stop even if it's not finished. Start over. Do this a dozen times. Then give yourself a ten minute drawing of the same object. The resulting drawing will be amazingly good and you won't believe you did it, because the practice of looking at it to draw and racing to get it down fast set it in your mind. You corrected all the mistakes without going back.

It doesn't matter if a stupid little 2 minute gesture came out crummy. What stands out is the positive - the one time a stupid little 2 minute gesture came out AWESOME!

Timed gesture drawing is also a good way to break out of that constant anxiety. Good enough is good enough. I learned to draw realistically and slowly long before I learned to sketch. Then I wanted to be able to sketch quickly and block in drawings under paint or pastels - so I started doing these gestures and started trying to draw my cat from life. That cat lived to be sixteen. I think I drew him almost every day for most of his life.

The net result of years of that practice is that I can sketch animals I've never seen before, not even cats but horses and goats, and get their anatomy right. Longer legs than a cat. Different ears than a cat. Fatter hindquarters. Skinny ankles. Hooves not paws... and I had a breakthrough this morning sketching a goat with brush pens. It came out as one of those moments of Finite Perfection.

These happen, a drawing so good that you can't improve on it. Treasure that when it happens. It will never be all the time. Your standards will rise naturally, the better you get.

But dating your drawings forces you to see progress. Drawing the same subject over and over is important too. Pick one that you love. That's my third suggestion - for me it was my cat, because I loved him and wanted to be able to draw cats well. He cooperated by never holding a pose for more than two minutes even in his sleep.

Use any tools that help. Rulers, grid method, tick marks to work from photos, tracing - even the act of tracing helps teach your hands to draw accurately. I am not kidding. Vary what you're doing and find your favorite tools. But freehand drawing begins with good proportion in freehand sketching.

That comes a lot faster when you're not distracted by extra details and noodling over whether those details are accurate. They don't even need to be. I found out in portrait drawing that sometimes if I got the mouth wrong I improved the expression - didn't change the likeness, just changed the mouth expression a little.

Rocks are another good choice for drawing practice. Little pobbles, rounded and old or jagged and freshly broken. They look like great boulders in detail. Draw those as realistically as you can to get values and shading, accurate light and shadowing. Put them on a table and set the lamp at different angles to get interesting shadow shapes. Turn them and draw the same one different ways.

All of these are things you can do in little quick tries that don't have a lot of emotional investment. Try exercises. Work along with videos. You can learn! You will literally change your brain when you do. It's harder for an adult and it's unfamiliar because it's rare for adults to learn entire new skills. But it's well worth doing because being able to draw accurately gives other skills.

You'll read faces better because you'll see features differently and read expressions better (unless you have some other reason like Asperger's that makes that difficult). You'll notice good compositions in photos and in life. You'll see everything in the world differently.

Last exercise - when you're just bored, look at something and imagine drawing it perfectly. This is weird but it helps. Imaginary drawing helps kick the brain into gear and is part of a process that helps you get ideas for drawing and painting. Daydream more. This will help make you more creative overall in life and it's a good meditation for stressful situations.

Try these different tricks. There are many others. What tricks and exercises help which person seems to vary a lot depending on how you learn best and personality and personal history. You may find watching cartoons and copying cartoon characters works. Or listening to verbal lectures. Or drawing while the lecture's going on. For me it was visual and reading, so I tend to take notes in videos or draw during them to have some way to look at the content. I get lost at voices reciting the information, which made classes rough in school but helped me ace tests.

What I get out of videos is that watching someone draw gives me the urge to draw, it's like hanging out with artists. Art is social for me. Hanging out here motivates me to do it.

Don't beat yourself for not having enough patience. Really don't beat yourself for being insecure. It's unrealistic to expect perfection on your first go while trying to get every detail just so. That comes from seeing someone skilled get it accurate on the first go because they are so practiced - and if you look close, they probably changed it and improved it on the way rather than just copied what was there. It looks easy to the unskilled and it will be once you have that practice.

It just matters a lot more how many tries you make, rather than how long you put in on a given trial. So do short timed drawings of one subject you really love and won't get bored with, or rotate among several. Count them. Compare your dozenth to the first and your hundredth to the first. You WILL see improvement - and that's what to reach for, not perfection.

Perfection is finite and comes uninvited. It happens by itself, usually because of a serendipitous mistake. Loosening up enough to let that mistake happen, not worrying about it, can make all the difference.

In the 1800s and 1700s every school kid was expected to be able to draw accurately, just like penmanship and learning Latin. It wasn't some special talent, it was how people without cameras sent post cards home. You can learn this and it will bring real benefits to health and joy in living.
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