Category Archives: Drawing Tips

DRAWING – Where do I start?

Essentially I see drawing at its most basic and simplest form as marks on a page.

You can make these marks with a variety of media such as pencil like this waratah sketch, charcoals, pen, watercolour, pastel, etc.

For me drawing beginning to draw involves finding a surface – usually a piece of paper – taking a for example, a 3 dimensional object such as a vase of flowers and taking time firstly to perceive the object in a proactive way.  Making an effort to pay particular attention to detail through your eye and into to your brain. The more you pay attention, the more you practice seeing with closer attention to detail and thinking how each section or part of the chosen object relates to every other section of the object – in size, proximity, texture etc.

Starting lightly with just exploring the overall shape of the object and then lowly working in the detail. Practice trying to represent what you see and translate that onto paper. Giving the brain time to organise the information and then practice working at incorporating what you have taken the extra time to look at in detail and develop that slowly into hand eye co-ordination to represent in some manner that object on a 2 dimensional piece of paper. It is in essence a skill building exercise not dissimilar to learning scales on the piano or developing the capacity to dance ballet.

You cannot expect to suddenly be able to draw an object correctly in proportion straight away – that is unrealistic. One of the best pieces of advice I was giving when working in life drawing classes as Art College was to keep all my practice drawings. To this day I still have some of them they remind me where I started and how far I have moved forward and are important so that you do not lose heart.  you may not always remember where you came from but if every 6 months or so you have a look back if you have been diligent you will se the improvement.

When I took art as an elective subject in Year 9 (I was about 14 years old) my family wondered why? I had not really been particularly good at drawing or painting, so fair enough. At the time this annoyed me – ‘how dare someone tell me I can’t draw’! It was at this point that things changed for me – I went from a passive observer to a keen observer who really wanted to draw well and I guess there was also the element of ‘I’ll show them’.

I spent the whole of those holidays copying cartoon illustrations, practicing until I could get them in proportion. Slowly over the next 3 years I spent many hours practicing and chose to do drawing and photographs in my HSC 3 Unit course. These are the pencil, watercolour and ink drawings.



At art college I majored in Drawing and Relief Printing – linocuts – both these things alongside photography have been the things to capture my interest imagination and passion and therefore have been the things that I have pursued since i was 14 years old.

I guess what I am saying is that drawing is skill – a skill that can be learned with practice. The biggest hurdle to learning to draw is to think ‘it is too hard and I can’t do it’. Nothing to fear really just have a go!

So essentially – where do I start?

Pick up a pencil and some paper – start observing, practicing and developing the hand eye co-ordination and slowly you will improve.

Copyright – Lynette Weir

Drawing – mistakes, learning and practise

Looking at this drawing “it is not quite right!” – it is a bit off centre and ‘wonky’. I can see that it isn’t and have posted it to highlight that things go wrong – not everything drawing/artwork you produce will be a success nor should it be. If you have that everything should be prefect then as in life you will be disappointed. So if it doesn’t work, file it in you arts journal etc, make some notes & maybe even have another go! The old saying is ‘practice makes perfect’ – well maybe not perfect but hopefully an improvement!

The secret is to be able to see the mistakes and then either fix them – or as in the case of this drawing which was beyond ‘going back’ noting what was wrong and possibilities in ‘fixing’ it. You can be sure that the next time I draw an emu I will take the ‘wrongness’ on board and seek to remedy it.

On the other hand, the wonky ‘wrongness’ goes with my image of these quite odd and unusual birds! This could be exploited to emphasise the ‘personality’ of the bird – especially from an illustration perspective. That being said, the purpose of the image and what an artist was trying to achieve is important – if you want to have a scientific illustration of an emu’s head this drawing simply would not do!

My aim was simply to draw an emu’s head and play around with a few ideas – there are aspects to this drawing I like but I also do like to ‘get it right’ in relation to things like his beak!

This is such an important thing for art students to understand – many students give up with the cry “I can’t draw” because they instantly want to be able to create realistic lifelike drawings around the 10 – 15 years age group without any practice. They will often carry this notion throughout their lives. When this just doesn’t happen then the “I can’t draw” and the giving up happens.

I always say if you can put a mark on a page you’re drawing! You may not be a Picasso but drawing is a skill that you can learn if you choose to pursue you can improve and sometimes may surprise yourself by actually succeeding.

I believe that drawing can be a process of visual memory – the more you draw a particular subject and commit it to your visual memory the easier it becomes to draw each time you approach the same or similar subjects.

I make the analogy with learning the scales on the piano – they can be boring, definitely repetitive but absolutely necessary – understanding scales and keys in music is a core skill in playing any instrument. Repetition with ‘intention’ – in other words you are paying attention and actually seeing to improve – is essential  no matter the task. In drawing a subject matter repetition with intention gives you an ever-increasing knowledge and ease with the subject matter.

I believe repeat drawing a subject matter and the ability to draw is a core art making skill. That is not to say that those who have not pursued this skill are not able to still produce wonderful work but having a strong base of drawing or draughtsmanship generally gives you a greater toolbox to draw upon in developing arts practice. It is also a lifetime skill that I don’t think ever ends – improving ones ability to represent a 3D subject in a 2D form and then being able to extend beyond the representational into abstraction or design work is intriguing and endlessly challenging!

I strongly believe the developing drawing skills is the single most important skill an artist can develop. Going to drawing classes with others just to draw – either guided or unguided – is a great way to increasingly develop your ability. Whether they be life drawing, still life, plein air, botanical or whatever subject takes your fancy, so long as you are drawing and working on developing your skills by practice you will find it increases your skills as an artist. Even if it takes a while for your eye to hand to paper co-ordination to develop the first step is actually ‘seeing’ more. All the great artists – Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Degas, Monet, Norman Lindsey, Arthur Boyd, Brett Whitely, Ken Done, Margaret Olley, Maragret Preston etc…all began with drawing and all are absolute master draughtsmen (people). Drawing skills underly their work even if that work is abstract – the ability to see more, be able to represent the image and take it into abstraction in a valid and spectacular way over a sustained lifetime of work is what underpins all these great artists and makes them timeless.

So quite simply – draw.

Copyright – Lynette Weir