New Art Resolutions? Five Helpful Tips

 "One form of perseverance is the daily discipline of trying to do things better than we did yesterday." ~Angela Duckworth

It's the month of January, when we often find ourselves deciding to shake off old, troublesome ways, to better ourselves, to embrace change and pursue new things -- like drawing, for instance.  If you're someone who wants to either learn to draw or improve your drawing skills, I have some recommendations.

 -- Practice.  If you "can't draw a straight line!", you need to keep trying.  [Straight lines are overrated, by the way.]  You need to sketch and scribble and make crummy attempts at drawing things.  It will probably look bad the first time, the seventh time, and maybe the eighteenth time, too.  But eventually, you will notice that the next time is a bit better than the last one was... and then you keep at it.  Don't stop.

-- Observe.  Grab your pencil and paper and sketch things around you.  Not in a fancy-framed-art museum kinda way, with the vase and fruit and single flower arranged just so... I mean just draw your lamp or a stapler or something.  As you do, pay attention to what you're seeing.  Notice what's in front, how it connects, how far back it extends, etc. A quick glance probably won't help much; try to trace over it with your eyes before trying to put it on paper.

-- Feel Out Forms, Visually.  That's confusing, but what I mean is try to pretend like you're sculpting the shape of the thing (car, horse, shoe, whatever) you want to draw.  Don't just look at it's outline.  Pretend like you have X-ray vision, and imagine where the shapes connect throughout the object.  See the shapes (the "forms") within, and lightly sketch those shapes.  Just like a sculptor feeling the shape of a clay object, you can envision the shapes and use them to make your drawing more realistic, more solid.

-- Research.  You don't have to do this alone!  You don't have to enroll in official brick-and-mortar Art School, either.  The internet is chock-full of tutorials, references, how-to's, and instructional tools.  Skillshare offers classes; Pinterest provides both inspiration and information.  I also recommend books.  If you're learning about drawing the human body, Andrew Loomis' figure drawing books are super helpful.  If you're into animals, go with books by Jack Hamm; I love how he compares/contrasts the anatomy of different animals.  For drawing horses, I strongly suggest "Draw Horses with Sam Savitt"; it's a fantastic resource!

-- KEEP GOING.  This isn't necessarily a bullet point, but I cannot stress it enough.  If you want to improve, don't give up.  Do some sketching every day, maybe every other day, and don't stop.  Get inspired by drawing things you like; join an online community -- track your progress!  Drawing is hard, but if you keep going, it gets better.


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