Because I Can

I’ve been doing quite a bit of drawing recently, and I’ve come to a beautiful realization. I love to draw. I love opening my little art box, taking out different pencils, gathering up my blending tools, finding my eraser, and settling down for a bit of drawing time.

Growing up, I always wished I could draw. Although I tried — and even bought more than a few “how to draw” books — I just couldn’t do it. I suppose back then I was far too impatient, had too many other things to do, and really didn’t believe it was possible to learn to draw.

Over the years, I made a few other half-hearted attempts at learning. I really had no idea, though, of how to go about teaching myself. I’d look at illustrations — usually birds — and try to copy what I saw, but all I ended up with were some really weird looking creatures. I just couldn’t draw. Why not accept that fact?

I did. I accepted it for a long, long time. But then, as blog followers here know, back in 2015 I decided to try again. Having the internet was a great thing, I think, because it gave me immediate access to online instruction. I could watch other artists at work. I could even ask specific questions about drawing techniques. I was amazed at how quickly I progressed.

Drawing skill is, however, only one part of art — a very important part, to be sure, but there’s a lot more to “being an artist” and “creating art” than picking up a pencil. As I learned more about art, I explored other media, other methods, and other techniques.

Sadly, my drawing ability suffered a bit because I wasn’t using it as often as before. When I tried to draw, I found myself bewildered all over again, wondering where to begin, how to get all the right shapes and forms. As I’d done at the beginning, I started practicing once more, drawing every day, improving old skills and gradually developing new ones.

But then, again, I moved on to other things — mostly oil painting — and once more my daily drawing practice was pushed aside.  Until recently.

I’ve once again picked up my pencils, and once again, I’ve been going back to the essential elements of drawing. A recent page from my sketchbook shows how I’ve “doodled around” with pencils. It also shows a few key points about drawing.

Love to Draw (4)

Those key points are:

  • Use a variety of different pencils. There are actually 22 different “grades” and while you might not need all of them, you do want a good range from hard “H” pencils to very soft “B” pencils.
  • Make different types of lines. Lines can be straight or curved, and line quality itself can vary from thick to thin. Lines can even be broken up.
  • Consider the pencil’s lead — which is actually graphite. You might want a “flat lead” for some drawing projects. Sometimes you’ll want a very sharp, pointed lead; at other times, a softer, rounded lead will work for what you need.
  • Different pressure in applying graphite makes a difference in the results you’ll get.

And while I didn’t write it out in my sketchbook, there’s also blending “tortillons” to consider. After you’ve used one a bit, it can actually be used to “draw” on the paper. Those marks on the bottom left were made in that way.

Another trick is to use a kneaded eraser to “lift off” graphite in various areas of a drawing, or to lighten the lines of a drawing that will be used for a watercolor painting.

Although I’ll be the first to admit that my drawing abilities are still limited, I’m happy with all I’ve learned to this point. Yes, I’m still at a beginner’s level. I still need to learn proper shading techniques. I’m still wrestling with perspective and proportion. I know little about creating texture, and just getting my values right is always a challenge.

None of it matters, though. I’ll learn as I go. What I’m most delighted about now is that realization that I enjoy drawing — whether I’m good at it or not. Drawing gives me a chance to sit quietly, to go into that mystical, peaceful, zen-like state, to feel the gentle movement and hear the soft sounds of pencil going over paper.

Love to Draw (3)
From my Sketchbook

I love drawing. I love to draw now simply for the sake of drawing. I love to draw because I can. I’ve achieved a childhood dream. It’s an awesome feeling, really. I’m not a great artist, my drawings are still a bit wonky, but for the most part, I can take what I see and re-create it with a pencil and paper.

I guess in many ways, drawing has become my favorite part of art. How about you? What do you most love doing?

 

26 Comments

  1. How fun! This is like reading my own life story. Even the year 2015 is the same as me starting to explore painting and drawing again.

    I remember looking at the kids in school who could draw thinking: “They are so lucky to have been born with good drawing skills”. I’ve realized a long time ago that it’s all about practice and hard work. But it just doesn’t feel like hard work because it’s so damn fun! 😀

    Thinking that some people can draw while others can’t is one of the biggest misconceptions I know, and I don’t know why we end up thinking that. You take math classes to learn math, you aren’t just born with advanced math skills 🙂

    Anyway! I find that I need to have a number of different mediums to work with. That way I don’t stop creating, just taking a pause from one medium while I work with another for a while 🙂

    Your drawings look great!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. One of the things I love most about drawing is that it can be so very simple. I first started learning with a pencil I picked up around the house and a few sheets of copy paper. Having artist-quality pencils and special drawing paper is nice, but not necessary. I do like having a sketchbook because it’s a convenient way to keep drawings together. Grab a pencil and start drawing!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes, I agree, necessary pencils and paper not required to start drawing. They are just good when you really want to progress.
        My first drawings started on just a4 white paper.

        I keep telling myself to sit and draw. I keep saying to myself, one day.
        I think I need to aim myself in a different way. Maybe 10 minutes, because if like before, that 10 minutes goes into an hour. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  2. What I’ve come to realize is that we all express our creativity differently, imo your art is about you, how you see things and express what you see and everyone is probably going to do that differently.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “Drawing is the probity of art.” Great quote! I looked up probity. It means honesty honor integrity. So, I guess art without drawing lacks honesty honor and integrity. And so much modern art doesn’t have any sign of drawing. It’s not totally the fault of modern artists, though. Their teachers don’t stress the importance of drawing because the teachers can’t draw and find it frustrating. Drawing is a discipline that requires a lot of effort but modern art is supposed to look effortless. When you look at those artists who seem to have a gift you should question that gift. Is it real? Do you see evidence of drawing? They could be snowing you with their giftedness. Modern art has no drawing, no probity. It’s dishonest.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I think photography is definitely an art form even though it doesn’t involve “drawing”. I suppose in some ways photographers are “drawing with light” to achieve their images. Photography is, for the most part, a very representational art, although there can also be “abstract” photography. To me, I saw the questions and ideas in this discussion as having to do more with the differences between representational and abstract art. As I said before, “interesting thoughts”. I recently received the latest issue of Artist magazine, and the focus is on “the creative power of everyday things,” which has led me to a lot of questions! Is needlework art? What about textile designs? Are pillows and bedspreads “works of art”? What about lovely little teacups? Ceramics? What is art, really? We can take a broad stance and consider many things as “art”, or we can narrow our definition to include only certain things. While we have the right to our own opinions, I don’t think anyone has the right to decide what is or isn’t art for someone else. Again, lots of “interesting thoughts” for a very interesting discussion. 🙂

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  4. Great post! When I started, I knew I wanted to draw things around me and make sure they looked “right”, meaning that one could look at the drawing and recognize what I drew. So I started learning to draw with graphite pencils and did that for a couple years, until I discovered watercolor painting and sketching. I took a rare live class in watercolor and the teacher had us trace the scene. Nothing wrong with that but it left me unsatisfied. I still draw everything I paint, use the tools I need to achieve proportion and perspective but everything is done by me and that is where I have satisfaction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s rewarding when we find what we love! I’m still struggling with measuring and getting all the right angles. A lot of my drawings (like the bee — if you’ve seen that post) are a bit off here and there, but that’s all right. It’s MY bee. I sat down and drew it. I drew, I erased, I measured, I compared my marks to the reference photo, and in the end I had a bee. Not the best one ever drawn, but still very definitely a bee. Yes, there’s an awesome feeling of satisfaction that goes along with that!

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    1. Yes, finding the right books and the right online resources is what finally enabled me to learn to draw. Plus, being older now, I was in a better place to give it the time and attention necessary.

      Like

  5. I myself had always wanted to draw. Finally I too a 3-month drawing class at an adult school. Eventually, I applied a lot of those sketch techniques to my later oil and acrylic works. Sometimes even a short class will inspire one’s confidence towards satisfaction in artwork.
    Art

    Liked by 1 person

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