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How Should I Draw?

Mandy Theis

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Discover the techniques that are congruent with you artistic soul.

“How should I draw?” is likely a question students have asked since ateliers were invented. Although I teach my students many of the same techniques at the same time, I have found that the answer to the question “How should I draw?” is different for each and every student.

As artists develop their skills, certain techniques call out to some more than others. For one student, a specific technique yields superb results. To another student, the same technique inspires abhorrence.

My advice to all students of atelier training: do not torture yourself long term with techniques you detest. Find the ones that match your personality and desired outcomes for your art.

This is not to say that art is not hard work, however. Often you have to learn techniques at a certain level before you have enough information to know if they are useful to you. Only then can you discard it. But eventually your pursuit of technical skills in art will force choices.

For example, an electric lightbulb is brighter than the whitest paint. Additionally, it is often a yellow hue. If you add yellow to your white to show the correct hue, you will darken the value of the color. If you leave out the yellow to ensure that the white is the lightest your paints can achieve, you have to sacrifice the yellow hue.

So what kind of artist are you? Do you prefer to have the lighter value and sacrifice the yellow? Or do you keep the yellow and sacrifice the lighter value?

There is no right or wrong answer here, only artistic preference. An argument can be made for either choice. But an artist who is fascinated by color is likely to vote for adding the yellow. An artist that is delighted by value contrasts is likely to choose the white.

I cannot emphasize enough that every student’s internal artist is as unique as their handwriting. Many students want their work to look like [insert any famous artist here]. But one artist cannot draw like another, even if they so wish. A Reubens copy of a Leonardo Da Vinci painting will always scream, “REUBENS!!!!”

Peter Paul Rubens‘s copy of The Battle of Anghiari.

What students can do is properly identify the qualities that they admire in an artist’s work, and dedicate time and focus in order to study them.

Depth of technical art knowledge allows students to create the artwork that is congruent with their artistic souls. Work hard to learn everything you can. Then, nurture the skills that fit your artistic personality the closest.



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