How to get Proficient Drawing Skills

How to get Proficient Drawing Skills

Question from Janice S. Axt

I would like to sign up for your lessons; I will be 77 years old when I do so! I have for the past 4 years tried to master the tapered stroke with “5 pencils” through 2 broken arms at different times and have not progressed!

I desperately want to succeed in drawing. I turned back to it as the basics for successively painting and I have many examples in my library of the great masters, but how in the world can the way you are talking about teaching, teach in 3 months? What you describe sounds like an art atelier, and can I produce that in my apartment? Do I require casts, an easel of a certain size, silverpoint tools, in addition to the cost of the lessons? Even at 77, two years older than the student you mentioned, I still want to accomplish what I dreamed of doing at age 8!

Janice S. Axt

Feedback from Vladimir London, Drawing Academy Tutor

Dear Janice S. Axt,

I’m glad that you have a burning desire to learn how to draw proficiently. It is also very good that you are not satisfied with your results; it means that you see your mistakes in drawing and therefore can work on them, thus improving your art skills. You see the space to grow, which is very important for your skills development.

I have to say that not every course you may find online is taught by professional art teachers, who went through rigorous art education process themselves. So, there is a danger to pick up some bad habits as instructed by amateur art teachers.

Some courses teach how to draw by copying from photos. Such approach can be quite damaging for for art skills development.

How to get Proficient Drawing SkillsA skilful fine artist is not who can only copy from photos, but who can create original pieces of art that come from his or her imagination and executed by life drawing, or drawing from memory or imagination.

This is what is valued in art – original point of view told through a personal vision and skills of the creator.

Of course, technical skills must be there to help an artist to express his/her vision.

Putting emphasis on copying might be good if your ambition is to become a “reproducer” rather than an artist.

With advance in modern technology, it is a good idea to aim for a “human photocopier” career, although there are many self-taught enthusiasts who practice exactly that.

We expanded on the topic of copying from photos in this video:

Also, keep in mind that using a range of 5 pencil grades (to vary tonal values) is not a professional approach; I explained why it is erroneous in this video:

You may also find interesting that tapered strokes performed with a “pen grip” (when only fingers move) is not what professional artists would use when drawing from life, for example. Such pencil grip is good for making illustrations, or calligraphy, when a drawing board is horizontal or tilted a bit from horizontal position. However, to draw in proficient manner, you need to place a drawing board or easel vertically (or almost vertical) and draw at an arm length. In such case, a “candle grip” does the job much better than a “pen grip”. This way, you will be able to see the entire drawing and the model simultaneously, will have a greater freedom and precision with long lines and angles.

How to get Proficient Drawing Skills

In addition, there are some rendering techniques you must avoid when drawing in graphite pencil. It is erroneous to smudge graphite pencil strokes with a paper stump or finger. This method is shown in many videos on YouTube and in some non-professional drawing courses, however, you don’t have to use it. Also, you do not render tonal values in such a smooth way that no separate pencil strokes are visible.

The beauty of the graphite artwork is in separate, nicely performed strokes and wide gamut of marks. Instead of smudging, you need to learn how to make your pencil strokes look attractive and beautiful. They are your recognizable “hand-writing signature”, your personal style. You don’t want to smudge your “signature” and “blend your style”.

Every smoothly-rendered hyper-realistic copy of a photo looks like its been made by the same person. Every drawing rendered in strokes tells the story of its creator.

How to get Proficient Drawing Skills

We understand your frustration with a slow progress. It partly might due to the quality of instructions you are getting.

To be able to draw whatever you see, think or imagine, you need to build your drawing skills on a strong foundation, which includes the following topics:

  • Constructive drawing principles
  • Linear and aerial perspective
  • Rules of composition
  • Golden proportions
  • Proportions of human body, head and face
  • Human anatomy for artists
  • Theory of charoscuro and efficient ways of rendering it
  • And so on…

How to get Proficient Drawing Skills

How to get Proficient Drawing Skills

How to get Proficient Drawing Skills

Learning to draw is not a 3 month project, it is a life-long process. Even the greatest artists never stop learning.

In the Drawing Academy course ‘3 months’ refers to 3 payment installments, not the duration of the course. In this course, you will have a lifetime membership.

This also applies to the personal support by the course tutors. You can ask any art-related questions and send us your artworks for critique at any time. There are no limits, no deadlines, and no extra charges. This individual support is included into the course fee.

Regarding the drawing materials, if you have one graphite pencil, an eraser and drawing paper of some sort, you are fully prepared for the Drawing Academy.

We do not base art education on drawing materials. Instead, we teach fundamental drawing principles that can be used in whatever medium you create.

You see, principles of golden proportions, rules of composition, perspective, human anatomy, theory of tonal values will be the same whether you draw in graphite pencil, paint in oil or create in crayons.

How to get Proficient Drawing Skills

How to get Proficient Drawing Skills

We show such techniques as drawing in silverpoint, pen and ink and colored pencils, however, it is optional. You can perfectly learn the drawing foundation with one graphite pencil in hand.

Please let us now if you have any questions, we will be happy to help.

To your creative success,

Vladimir London
Drawing Academy tutor

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