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Anyone Can Draw, Yes I Mean Anyone

Everyone has a friend or knows someone who happens to ooze talent. They can sit and draw just about anything and bring their images to life. It’s not uncommon to feel a little envious of that talent. There are artists among us and, though they aren’t famous, they are incredibly talented. It’s also not uncommon to say things like “I wish I could draw like that.” The truth is that you can. With lessons and years of practice, anyone who is dedicated enough can learn to draw. Don’t let that stop you though, art isn’t all about perfection, and even though you may never achieve the same level of skill as Rembrandt or DaVinci give it a try.

If you aren’t as willing to put in all the time and effort to become a master then you should at least watch the TED Talk about anyone can draw. Graham Shaw, an inspirational communications expert, gives a wonderful speech and a hands-on demonstration about how to draw. He also addresses the most important thing that holds people back and keeps them thinking they can’t draw, beliefs. The number one reason that people don’t think that they can draw is that they believe that they can’t. Small children are much easier to teach than adults because they have no preconceived notions about their abilities. Graham says that the two most important things you need to be able to draw are, first to have an open mind. Second, he says you just need to be prepared to have a go.

Find The Shapes

Picture of a cat drawn with circles triangles
A cat can be drawn with a few circles and triangles

There are a few basics that you can learn about art just by reading this article. The first one is simple, everything is made up of basic shapes. Looking at the world around you it may not be easy at first but you can train your eye to pick out shapes. Clocks are a simple circle. A cat can be drawn with a few circles and a triangle or two. Recognizing the basic shapes hidden within everyday objects is a great way for someone who has never drawn before to start. If you look at pretty much any, how to draw, manual or book you’ll quickly find that what the book has to offer you is a lesson on recognizing shapes.

Once you’ve figured out that everything is made up of simple shapes you’ve got the basic building blocks for becoming an artist. If you can write your name and draw a circle you’ve got all you need to get started. It may take time for you to become a good artist and even longer to become great, but just give it a try and you can do it.

Shading (the shady side of art)

Now that you know how to roughly draw an object you need to work on shading. Shading is a very useful tool in art. It helps you show depth and dimension. Shading can also help you show light in a picture. There are four widely accepted methods for shading.

1) The Crosshatch

Like the name sounds, if you use the cross hatch method to shade your picture you will have a pattern in the shading similar to a tartan or plaid. This is a great method for quicker sketches.

2) Smooth

Pencil drawing of President Reagan using smooth blending
Shading by blending so that there are no clear lines between the different shades

This technique is all about blending your shading so that there are no clear lines between the different shades. The look should be seamless as you gradually darken or lighten the color you are working with. It should also be mentioned that you can use a smudging tool or even your fingers to help smooth out a shading job and help create a smoother look.

3) Slinky

This method is a little messier in appearance, it is most easily described as a sort of scribbling method where you will clearly see darker and lighter lines as the color gradation graduates from dark to light. This method is great for showing textures for things like hair.

4) Stipple

Like pointillism, stippling is just a series of dots or jabbing marks on the page. The closer the concentration of the marks the darker the shading will appear. The more sparse or lighter the stippling the lighter the shading will appear.

Color Is Key

Color is a powerful tool but secondary to shading. Most pictures can be rendered perfectly well in black and white with shading (for nearly 100 years all photographs were black and white). But color can really help bring your art to life. The right shade of red will really make a pair of lips pop. Color can help convey a mood or set the scene. The use of color can help an artist to show depth and lighting in similar ways to shading, in fact, shading with colors is just as important a tool to show light and depth. Using colors can help convey the artist's personality and flair. Like seasoning to a chef, color can help to spice up an artists works adding flavor and enhancing the image.

It’s also important to remember the important lesson that Picasso, Warhol and any toddler can teach you about color. It’s not an absolute rule that every giraffe has to be yellow, brown and subtle shades of orange. A giraffe can just as easily be purple with pink spots. Don’t be afraid of color, experiment and try new things. Trying new things led many an artist to invent their own specific hue of color and gave their art their own specific style.

Practice Makes Perfect

“Can’t” is a 4-letter word. It’s like those words that make a mother want to wash her child's mouth out with soap. If you tell yourself that you can’t do something then you will never learn. Don’t give up if your first attempts are awful. If babies gave up after their first fall they would never learn to walk and humanity would still be stuck in the stone ages.

As with anything, practice is the key to success. When a children are learning to read, their teachers stress that repetition is key. Author Malcolm Gladwell says in his book “Outliers” that to become a master at anything, you need to perform that task for at least 10,000 hours. You don’t have to become a master but it’s pretty clear that you get out of an experience what you put into it.

Final thoughts, like Graham Shaw says, it’s interesting to think about the fact that many people believe that they cannot draw. The only thing that is keeping them from being able to draw is their limiting thoughts. So challenge those beliefs and see what you can accomplish if you are prepared to just have a go.

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