Learn to Draw

Learn to Draw

Everyone knows how to draw. Little kids love to draw, it's one of their favorite pastimes. Somewhere along the way we lose that love.
This is one of those things I hear over and over again: "Someday I really want to learn how to draw." But "someday" may never come, so why not start today?
 
People often wonder, where do I begin learning how to draw? You begin at the simplest point: grab the nearest drawing implement (pen or pencil) and the nearest paper (copy paper works great!). Next, choose an object near to hand (your computer mouse, a coffee cup, an apple) and really look at it. Pretend you're an alien, and this is the first time you've seen one of those. What shape is it, really?

 
Drawing is a process of seeing as much as it is coordination. Break down your object into shapes - circles, squares, rectangles - and start sketching them out. Focus on perspective, the way it really looks from where you sit, not the way it "ought to look" in a perfect world if it were on a museum display pedestal.
 
Everyone knows how to draw. Little kids love to draw, it's one of their favorite pastimes. Somewhere along the way we lose that love. (Typically it's in the teen years, when our self-criticism and self-consciousness peaks.) Learning to draw is a process of reconnecting with that childhood pleasure, and of silencing the little voice inside your head that berates everything you do as being sub-standard.
 
My two favorite resources to recommend to beginners are:
  • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
  • Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory
 
Both of these books are geared towards adults who are approaching drawing for the first time. They use plain language, simple exercises, and heaps of encouragement. Edwards' book is strong on the technical side, whereas Gregory's book will show you how you don't have to be very good at drawing for it to be a rewarding pastime.
 
And my best advice is: don't get caught up in your tools. An artist can create a brilliant work whether they use a Bic ballpoint pen on printer paper, or a Kolinsky sable brush on cold press watercolor paper that costs $20 a sheet. It's easy to get paralyzed by all the options in art supplies, and it's easy to spend more time trying to choose which pen to buy than it is to actually, you know, draw. 
 
If you'll allow me a moment of pretension: art is about who you are, not what you buy.
 
Keep it simple. Just draw. Let your own urges and artistic development lead you to the materials you need. A pencil or pen and some blank paper is all you really need.