How I approach art studies

Hi! I thought I’d use this website for a bit more than just posting what I do, but also sort of as a journal to myself on what I’m doing, maybe it helps someone even. Just a small disclaimer though, I’m by no means an expert, not even close, I’m just documenting my particular approach to all of this.

I “started” drawing properly in 2014 (By properly I mean “with the goal to get better” and not just killing time). As most people, I started by just looking at tutorials I found around youtube or deviantart, “How to draw X” type of stuff. This gave me somewhere to start with but it wasn’t nearly enough information to be able to do it on your own, or at least it wasn’t for me. They usually don’t include the proper fundamentals cause they just wanna teach you how to draw things, not why you’re drawing them as you are.

And for me that was a problem, I could maybe copy this or that but it would always look wrong, I didn’t know how to look at things properly, I didn’t know how to correct what I did wrong. And so I would get frustrated and quit for a day or two, and then come back and do something new instead of looking at the old drawing. That rarely gets you anywhere and it’s more likely to make you stop than make you keep going, but nowadays I approach things differently, or at least try to as much as possible.

Literally just draw. But be constant about it.

This is something I heard a lot, “just draw”, of course just drawing without thinking won’t get you anywhere. What this means is it’s more on the lines of “keep drawing while thinking on what you’re doing”, don’t take too many days off drawing, try to draw at least something everyday.

There’s multiple videos on how to approach studying fundamentals efficiently, but I’d say this one explains it fairly well, by “Manga Materials”.

It all boils down to studying the subject that you wanna draw more in-depth, learn what makes it tick and then practice it while thinking how you’re constructing it, in my opinion it doesn’t matter if your attempts look bad, you can use them to learn how you can do it right on further attempts.

I’m personally very mediocre with schedules, but it seems to help having specific hours that you’re gonna be drawing, or doing studies. Even if you feel lazy you need to meet this sort of schedule that you put on yourself.

Learning how to see while drawing

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.

This book is probably the most useful book you can possibly get into to shift your mindset to that of an artist. Learning how to see things as shapes, how to measure those against other things surrounding it to find the proper sizes, or how to pay more attention to negative space are very important things that I feel are incredibly well explained within it.

You can ignore all the theory explained within it if you want to and just get to the exercises, but I found it very interesting to read nonetheless. It all boils down to making the “visual side” of your brain look at your subjects instead of the left side. Doing the exercises will greatly improve how you go about drawing something in front of you or a picture. I wish I went with this from the beginning instead of all those “How to draw things” tutorials on youtube, but I guess it’s never too late!

Don’t get discouraged while practicing.

This will keep happening for any subject that you’re not familiar with, but I feel like drawing in particular holds a special kind of frustration that I personally do not find on learning other things like riding a bicycle or cooking. More often than not, because of the nature of drawing with what we think instead of what we see, things end up not looking how we would like them to be, probably ending up like a childish drawing.

DO NOT get frustrated or discouraged over it, hold your mind in place and look at what went wrong compared with your subject, and look how it could be corrected. I’ve been my own worst critic heavily in the past, and I still am to some degree, this is something you wanna keep at bay as much as possible. Don’t be a perfectionist, it’s okay to fail as long as you look at what to do better next time.

I know some art students go about learning by constantly criticizing and almost never being happy with what they put out, don’t go this way or it will make you absolutely miserable or even despising drawing as a whole. You might feel like that way you’re gonna improve faster by forcing yourself to do exactly what you wanna see, but it’s gonna burn you out until you just don’t have fun drawing.

And in the end that’s the whole point, either if you wanna earn money drawing or it’s just a hobby, you need to have fun drawing. Don’t mindlessly avoid criticism but don’t bash every aspect of your drawings either. Don’t fall into a hole of despair when comparing your work to people that can do it much better than you can currently. It’s a trap you can easily fall into, don’t compare yourself to anyone, compare only to what you did before if you wanna measure your progress.

I might do more of these in the future with other subjects of drawing as I go about it, just whatever works for me to be able to look back into it.

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