You'll note that the demonstrations in this book are step-by-step rather than “line-byline.” That type of drawing book gives you a repertoire of subjects you can copy, but often does little to help you draw anything different. This book aims to give you the guidance and explanation of beginner techniques you need so that you can draw whatever you want.
A cookbook might give you quick results for an immediate dinner, but a course in cooking will give you the knowledge to create your own dishes from whatever you have available.
Don't be afraid of copying, whether it is other artists’ work, photographs, or from life. Depending on the exercise, copying allows you to concentrate on making accurate lines or achieving correct values. This helps develop your hand-eye coordination and will not squash your creativity. On the contrary, building solid, basic techniques in traditional drawing will give you the freedom to express yourself in any way you choose. Traditionally, apprentice and student artists have spent long hours copying from plaster casts and making studies of figures and drapery, and this traditional training has produced some of our greatest modern artists. Even though observational drawing can seem frustrating at times, and perhaps boring if you prefer imaginative work, it is the best way to improve your skills.
First Things First
When most people start a new hobby, they get very enthusiastic and try to do too much too soon. Who hasn't nearly crippled themselves on their first day at the gym, or tied their fingers in knots trying to play a difficult song after their first guitar lesson? Don't let your enthusiasm lead to frustration. If you take your time and master the basics, you'll find it much easier to tackle complex subjects with confidence. Drawing is a combination of skills: observing, remembering, and recording an image, and then applying compositional principles and creative energy to that image. Even if you have done some drawing before, doing simple exercises can refine your skills, allowing you to focus fully on each component of the drawing process.
Practice Makes Picture Perfect
Practice does make perfect, and nothing will improve your drawing like consistent practice. Create a routine for yourself and complete each lesson thoroughly. Ideally, you should draw a little every day, but if you can manage a couple of sessions a week, then you will make good progress. If you've always thought of yourself as talentless, you might be in for a surprise. Think of how many automatic skills you have that you had to be taught: driving a car, cooking, writing. We engage in these activities without thinking, but we were once taught step-by-step how to do them. In just the same way, drawing can become effortless, allowing you to focus on expressing your unique creativity.
Once you've got a toolbox of techniques at your disposal, your natural talents will have a chance to shine!