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How to Draw - No Formal Training Required

By Edited May 2, 2015 1 0

Learning to draw when you don't think you are talented enough.

Art for the Untalented

The art community is a fractured one.  Many artists have very specific ideas about the right and wrong way to do things.  I am a member on a couple of art forums and believe me, artists ar

Faces of Freedom
e opinionated.  In my niche (graphite art) there are many different views on how to draw.  There is the freehand only community, who views any tool whatsoever as an insult to real art.  There is the community that believes that photo-realism is not the point of art.  There are those who believe that the best art is the drawing that looks like a photograph, and the list goes on.  There are many spirited debates on the right and wrong way to draw.  For me, the only wrong way to draw, is not to draw at all.

I have had no formal art training, but the two drawings pictured in this article were drawn by me. within the last two years.  They represent the cumulative experience of about three years worth of drawing.  That's it.  Three years.  I love to carve, and that had been my main hobby.  However, there was a time about three years ago that my workshop was being remodeled and I was left with nowhere to carve.  (My wife forbids me creating wood shavings on the livingroom carpet!)

With nothing to do, I headed to the bookstore in search of a temporary hobby.  I passed the art section and noticed a book on graphite art.  Pencils were cheap, so I picked it up and decided to give it a try.  Up to this point I had not drawn anything more serious than a stick figure on my school books in High school.  I purchased the book, and went home to get started.  I have no formal training, but there are so many good books out there that give detailed instructions on technique.

I have always loved art, and had often wished to create it, but felt that without formal training, and a generous helping of talent, I was destined to always be only an admirer.  I was wrong.  Let me tell you the things I found out, and urge you to pursue your wish to create.

  1. Art is easier if you are naturally gifted.  This is true, but that is no reason to miss out on the awesome feeling of creating just because you are not naturally gifted.  I have often envied people who could sit down and paint or draw beautiful pictures in a matter of minutes.  I can't, but that's okay!
  2. Art can be boiled down to formulas and techniques.  These are for the non-talented.  If you are willing to look for the formulas, you can create by process, what the "talented" artist creates by instinct.  In the graphite realm, there are formulas for creating different textures and effects.  They call it "layering" .  It is a process, and anyone can do it.  Maybe not perfect the first time, but you can do it!
  3. Many of the "talented" people have taken the time to write books and create websites where they share their secrets in easy to understand ways.  Studying these books and websites will increase your understanding of the process and formulas you need for the given medium you choose.  Just go to the web and type "How to (whatever type of art you want)"  You will find much more information that you can absorb in a single afternoon.
  4. Once
    My Brother Andrew
    you know the techniques and create your first piece, people will begin telling you that they wish they were as talented as you are.  This led me to an epiphany.  Talent may be learned!  Okay, I am not a gifted artist, but I am a learned one!
  5. Don't listen to anyone tell you that you are doing it wrong.  Feel free to ask advice of those who are talented, but don't let them tell you that you are doing it wrong.  I have found that those who love art, will urge you in your pursuit.  Those who are art "snobs" will criticise your technique if it is different from their own.  Those people are not worth listening to anyway.
  6. Joining an online community of artist in your niche can be extremely helpful.  If you prefer in person, look for a community of artist in your area and see if you can join.  I prefer the online art forums for sheer magnitude of information at my fingertips.


Have you always wanted to draw, or paint, or sculpt?  What are you waiting for, and education?  It's waiting for you there in the bookstore and here on the web!  I am not minimizing formal art school training.  I am simply saying you don't need it to begin creating today.  Pursue you dream of being an artist.  It just might be one of the most rewarding things you have ever done!




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