Drawing skills comprise the fundamental backbone that extends its support to all forms of creative expression in all mediums and styles by deconstructing the visual world and reconstructing it in a conceptualised manner to produce a three dimensional illusion on a two dimensional piece of paper. Beyond the clinical and clichéd adumbrations, art is there to express individuality in the human spirit, it is another form of language in which we give meaning to our world: poetry without need for words; a vehicle in which to express symbolism, allegory, social plight, or mere aesthetics for beauty’s sake (whether dark and foreboding or light and jovial). Art is catharsis for the soul, and perhaps the best place from which to begin is with a dissection of motives - why do you want to draw?
Not all drawings are, or need be, meaningful. Many an artist will take to art almost purely as a form of escape and distraction, which to various degrees is unavoidable regardless of intent given drawing and painting can switch the mind into a meditative state in which we might lose our normal perception of time and self.
Art, to a lesser or greater extent, dependent on the individual, is driven by obsession, and whilst you may not be enthused to draw or sketch a little every day, maybe through nothing more than tiredness after a long day in an office or factory, when you do find the time to draw, it ought to be as exciting as it is challenging. When a drawing starts to become tedious and an effort to finish, sometimes putting it to one side for a few days, weeks, months or even years, is the necessary thing to do. Naturally, frustrations will arise when things go wrong, but this is all part of the learning process. Even those pieces that we laboured hours over, and yet in our minds look fit only for the bin man to cart away, are great learning experiences from which we can grow whether conscious of the fact or not. Drawing is never easy, even for those who have been doing it all their lives, it requires a great deal of dedication, concentration and many internal dialogues trying to process and construct a mental picture that can then be physically manifested onto paper.
Drawing with a pencil in hand is quite often seen as a laborious chore - a means to an end. Even for those who enjoy wielding a pencil, some pieces and studies may seem laborious at best. The absolute beginner will require a great deal of patience as their initial pieces could take many hours to complete, even for a small piece of work, but trust me when I say, the more you practice and dedicate yourself to the task at hand, the easier and faster the process becomes. Perhaps your goals lie in wanting to paint watercolours, oils or acrylics? If you can find the patience to learn the drawing skills concurrently to learning other mediums, it will give you the ability to progress at a much faster rate. In recognition of the importance of other mediums, I wanted to expand this drawing guide from beyond just using a pencil, to demonstrating pen and ink, ink washes, charcoal, pastel and watercolours. The knowledge acquired from experimentation in other types of medium filter through into one another, and will present you with different techniques that are inherited and adapted for use in other mediums. This multimedia guide will not go into any depth about colour however, which is an entirely different field and can require a fair deal of theory and practical studies.
If you are an absolute beginner your initial efforts will make you laugh or cry (or both!); what separates the women from the girls, and the men from the boys, is perseverance. You have probably read several books or websites that have all told you – anybody can draw, it doesn’t require any natural skill – then gone away in despair because all the 'helpful' intent achieved was to make you feel pretty lousy. I shan't lie to you, yes some people possess more natural talent then others which will give them the ability to develop at a faster pace, and if your motivations, concentration and perseverance are not up to scratch you might eventually come undone. However, with the right frame of mind, it really is true – anybody can draw and at any age. I will leave you with a profound quote from Michelangelo:
"If people knew how hard I have had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem wonderful at all."
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