6 ways to help improve your drawing skills

6 ways to help improve your drawing

6 ways to help improve your drawing

I’ve heard it so many times “but I just CAN’T draw”. If you want to improve your drawing skills, read on.

It’s almost like someone has resigned themselves to not being able to draw or believes that you either can draw or you can’t. I don’t believe that anyone can’t draw, learn how to draw or improve their drawing skills. It is a skill and like any skill it can be learnt. Being creative is perhaps someone a little more complex and I can understand more why some believe they aren’t very creative. However, there are still ways that creativity can be encouraged and nurtured rather than just accepting that you’re not a creative person.

6 ways to help improve your drawing skills.

So this idea of “I can’t draw” is something that came up with a student that we mentored last year. Having not studied art since the age of 14 and then making an application to art college at the age of 19, how to draw was an issue. This student was very creative with ideas and had produced many strong works that were conceptual in nature. However a project titled ‘The Kitchen’ was a challenge for him as he wanted to draw a mug and just found it very challenging. We sat down for one of our one to one mentoring sessions one week to explore how to draw and we both drew a mug, together. I never envisaged that this is what we’d be doing with one of our sessions but as we are very much led by each individuals needs, this is what we did.


And this is what we established as obstacles to drawing:

1. Not looking properly therefore drawing what you think or know rather than what you see.

This is a huge issue when trying to improve your drawing skills and one that everyone struggles with. It’s really difficult trusting your eyes alone and not your logical head and experience.

If we take the example of a mug we know what one looks like as we use one probably every day. We know it’s made up of a circle at the top and one at the bottom, with sides and a handle.

It’s helpful to start thinking of the things that you’re drawing not as lots of individual shapes and lines but more of shapes, intersections and space. We also need to think about perspective, foreshortening and a whole host of other things. We don’t teach these technical aspects of drawing on our eCourses as there are hundreds of free tutorials online that do this very well. Just Google perspective, foreshortening etc. We teach more about creating your response to the subject/object and how you can produce individual drawings which is essentially what the art colleges are looking for. A portfolio of well executed technically proficient drawings is not necessarily going to get you into art college. Read more about this in our ‘Creating a sensational portfolio’ eBook.

Improve your drawing - mug

2. Concentration – not chatting

I am sitting writing this post in silence. When I teach life drawing I expect the room to be silent. Why? Because if we’re using our brain to chat or engage in other things then we can’t concentrate and give drawing our full attention. And it needs our full attention. You might like to listen to music when you’re drawing. If you’re an experienced artist then I should imagine that you will find this enjoyable and not too interfering with your concentration. But if you’re learning to draw I would recommend you switch off your music, cut the chat and get on with the task in hand.

You need to be in the moment, absorbed and according to positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, what you are experiencing in that moment is known as flow, a state of complete immersion in an activity. He describes the mental state of flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Switch your phone off, MP3 player off, OFF, OFF, OFF!!

3. Practice, practice, practice

Like anything, practice makes perfect. If you don’t keep up your skills you’ll lose them. It doesn’t matter what you draw in a sense, just the very act of drawing keeps your eye/hand co-ordination in check.

If you practise then you will find that you draw without even thinking, rather like driving a car, riding a bike. It becomes second nature. Not saying that you don’t have to concentrate or look anymore just it becomes more natural.

4. You don’t believe you can do it, you’re from the school of ‘can do’ and ‘can’t do’.

This relates to the previous point of practise. If you do it enough and instill some ground rules in your drawing routine then there is no reason why you can’t improve your drawing. Drawing comes in all guises and realistic, representational drawing is not the only kind of drawing.

Take a look at our Pinterest page on drawing and see what you think. We also have a Pinterest page that accompanies our eCourse on drawing skills; exploration.

Nobody is stopping you or holding you back from the success your creative dream – ONLY YOU.

5. You won’t let yourself make mistakes, and if you do you abandon the drawing.

You’ve all heard the expression you need to learn from your mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes you learn very little and you will never improve your drawing. So having a rubber in your hand and countless attempts that get thrown in the bin isn’t always helpful. When your drawings are looked at in the context of your portfolio for art college sometimes it’s useful for the tutors to see feint ‘under drawings’. Read our blog post ‘Taking risks with your work’ here. You’ll be rewarded for taking risks rather than playing safe all the time and you might even discover something really exciting!

6. You don’t make good use of negative space.

Negative space is the space around an object. It’s the gaps between objects and places and it’s essential that you start using it. Check out our blog post on negative space, how you can use it and how it too can become second nature to use.

We’re discussed quite a few issues here. Some of which we can help you with to improve your drawing skills. However, we can’t change things like not chatting, not listening to music etc. so you’ll have to be strict with yourself if you want to see some changes.

We have an eCourse available that can assist you with the technical aspects of this post and it’s available to preview below – happy drawing!!

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