Top Ten Mistakes Beginners Make in drawing points out the major problem areas and suggests how to fix them.
Knowing your technical ability is pretty straightforward. You know if you have a solid understanding of perspective. You can sketch something from life or imagination in a pretty good approximation of one or two point perspective. When drawing the figure, you aren't daunted by foreshortened limbs, and you are able to fit the whole figure on the page, with accurate proportions.
Your drawings use a good range of tonal value. Your darks are really dark, and you aren't afraid to use black. You use highlights appropriately and can get a good range of middle values out of your pencil or charcoal. If you choose to use a high key or a limited range of tone, it's through choice, not accident.You can draw most things from life, make a portrait look like the sitter, and draw any sort of texture with confidence.
Ok, so you've mastered basic technique, what else is there? Read More...
Image: detail from (cc) by Suzy Spence
While looking for good examples of vision boards, I discovered The Shopping Sherpa Flickr page from Kerry (whom I was delighted to discover hails from Canberra - a fellow Aussie!). I was gobsmacked by her fantastic miniatures, and the very interesting inch by inch project. But what I really loved was the insight into her creative process in her creative space tagged posts. Her workspace is just such a riot of creativity that it makes me want to dive in and make something! What am I doing at a computer! I should be creating!
While on the same quest for inspiration boards, I discovered the work of Marion Joy , whose blog is now a little neglected, but has many examples of 'drawing' with stitched line, and might be of interest to mixed media artists. Now I'm thinking of interesting possibilities for that unused canvas in my store closet!
After 12 years writing and drawing the About.com Drawing/Sketching site, it's time for me to turn over a new leaf. To start a whole new book, in fact. So thank you, dear readers, for your company and kind words. It's been an honor to share your creative journeys.
I'd especially like to thank Forum moderator and website contributor Susan Tschantz, who has been an enduring rock, part of Drawing/Sketching from before I started writing the site. Do visit her Starrpoint Blog where she shares her creative thoughts and tutorials. I also enjoyed working with many wonderful guest artists, including regular contributing Artist, Shawn Encarnacion, syndicated cartoonist Ed Hall, cartoonist and teacher Steve Barr, and equine artist Janet Griffin Scott. My thanks also to my fellow Guides - now Experts - at About.com. You couldn't find a more supportive group of people, and I'll miss working with them. Behind the scenes we have an amazing team of editorial and support staff, to whom I am also indebted.
First are my 'greenie' posts. Going forward, I hope to make environmental activism a much bigger part of my life, and some seeds are sown here.
Paper and the Artist's Footprint
Sharing technique has been one of my favorite parts of writing the site. Inspiration is important, but you can't share that inspiration without good technical skills - and these are things you can learn. I've always loved drawing horses, so I'm particularly proud of this tutorial on How to Draw Horses which explains the thought process rather than just copying. I guess thinking about drawing must be a key theme for me - this tutorial on How to Draw Eyes also explores anatomy and approaches. Out of the step-by-step tutorials I've created, I think this one on Volume with Charcoal is one of my best.
Being an artist isn't easy, and it's made more difficult by some of the crazy myths that our culture has about what it means to be an artist. I address some of these in posts like Can I Be a Famous Artist? and Should I go to Art School?. In a complicated world, simplicity is key. Gather your ideas and find your voice.
It's pretty cool, looking through these pages and seeing just how much I've written. I think some of it's not too bad. I hope you might find some of these words and drawings helpful, and maybe even inspiring, as you develop your own art and creativity.
The foundation of a really nice looking heart is symmetry and balance - good proportion so that your heart looks rounded and even. From there, you can 'tweak' the shape to create an expressive form, or stick with the clean traditional style. Here's How to Draw a Heart and How to Draw an Arrow Through a Heart.
Can't get out to stores due to flood or snow or summer heat or cyclone? Create a unique Valentine greeting for your beloved - draw this Manga Valentine's Day card.
You can print and color, trace, copy or use it as an example to do something really individual. Try drawing it digitally - or scanning your outline - and using a paint program to experiment with color. (and stay safe, everyone. )
The problem is, however much we hate it - and most artists I know loathe marketing and would rather perish in obscurity than advertise - creating a viable career in the arts requires that you have a personal brand. This doesn't mean plastering a ritzy logo and flamboyant signature across ever piece you do. It means having consistency of style, a certain unity in your body of work, and something that sets it apart from the crowd. For most visual artists, this tends to happen organically. When your art is internally driven, there are themes and qualities that will keep appearing. It might be obvious, or it might be subtle, and it may well change over time, but if you look hard enough, there are connecting threads.
Lack of a recognizable 'brand' can be a real problem in a competitive marketplace. The value of an artist's work can be somewhat artificial and subject to fashion, as we know, but there's more to it than that. You don't want a potential buyer to look at a work and say 'Oh, I must get a colored pencil horse drawing too.' You want them to think, 'I need a piece by THAT artist.' If you're just another realist artist making generic copies of stock photos, what is there to set your work apart?
Why, for example, would you commission J.D. Hillberry over some other artist chosen at random from a Google search? He is renowned for his mastery of realism, but there are plenty of competent photo-realists around. There's a clue in his expert compositions, which aren't simple copies of photos. Most of his drawings have close-cropped composition and use a lot of white space to balance the intricately rendered textures. His trompe-l'oeil pieces have a unique combination of shallow-space illusion and quirky humor. His personality emerges in his work, even given its degree of precise realism.
Other artists have a notable sense of freedom in their work - vigorous mark-making, or sometimes a particular construction technique the gives a certain recognizable look and feel. Michael Hames uses a textured, painted support and retains much of his 'working drawing' within his realist work, giving it the energy and structure you can see in his wolf drawing
So what sets your work apart? If I browse through your online gallery, will I then recognize one of your drawings when I see it at an art show?
Check out some tips on Developing Your Personal Style from Marion Boddy-Evans.