What to draw: Lesson 1: Loop-de-loops

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Often upon finding out that I am an artist, someone will say to me in an ingratiating tone, “I wish I knew how to draw”. This always has had a kind of false ring to me, because if they wanted to draw, why aren’t they drawing, or at least compulsively doodling? Drawing requires doing, and really, it’s not doing much compared to other forms of artistic exertion. All one needs is a pencil and the back of an envelope to get started. So what prevents people from drawing?

Here are my guesses as to why people don’t draw:

  • They think they have to make a masterwork the first time they draw.
  • They are afraid people will laugh at them.
  • They have to clean the house first.
  • They are busy making piles of money doing something else.
  • They really DON’T wish they knew how to draw.
  • They don’t know WHAT to draw.

Why drawing is good for you. Drawing connects your brain to your body. It’s a way of making your own personal discoveries about your world, and every time you make one of those discoveries, you get a squirt of feel-goodness.

(When I designed this website, I wanted it mainly to be a showcase for my portfolio so I could get some work, and as a way to explore blogging, because I always like to try new things. I set my intention for this blog to entertain, rather than be informational, because there are already so many blogs that do a very good job of “5 Ways to Get This” and “10 Ways to Do That”. Therefore, if I say something like “drawing gives you squirts of feel-goodness”, I will leave it to someone else to leap up and say “Oh, that’s serotonin” or something.)

The biggest problem I’ve seen beginning artists struggle with is not HOW to draw, as WHAT to draw. They will pick something unbelievably complicated, like a lawnmower, and can’t get past the oil cap, or try to draw a face without first imagining the feeling behind the skin and bone, or draw a cat and try to keep everything perfectly symmetrical. And this causes people to throw up their hands when they are about a minute into it and exclaim, “I can’t draw!”

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Start by drawing loop-de-loops. I hear that cursive handwriting is no longer taught in schools. This is a shame, because the fundamentals of handwriting can be applied to drawing. When I learned how to make cursive letters, I was first taught just to practice loop-de-loops. This is a VERY GOOD THING, loop-de-loops, and everyone who aspires to draw should practice them. Big loops, little loops. This liberating exercise is very helpful in relaxing tension and connecting your hand with your brain.

Please tell me – what are YOUR excuses for not drawing?

Next installment of this thread will be “What to draw: Lesson 2: Set your intention”.

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