Illustrations and mini-lesson by Theresa Bayer
Myth #1 – Some people are just naturally born knowing how to draw, and the rest of us unfortunates will never, ever, ever be able to draw.
Drawing is like music and sports. It takes training and practice.
Sure, there are some people born with a knack for drawing. But the truth is that drawing is a learned skill, and that anyone who really wants to–and believes they can– can learn it. Think of Olympic athletes. They are born with coordination and strength, but to make the most of their abilities, to win the gold medal, they find the best coach they can afford, they get years of training, and they practice daily.
The same is true of great artists–they were trained in figure drawing, in perspective, proportion, and composition. And they practiced. As the renowned painter of ancient Greece Apelles said, “Never a day without a line.”
Myth #2 – I don’t need a drawing class. I just want to learn how to paint.
If you are in a big hurry to learn how to paint, here’s a hot tip. Take a few drawing classes first. This is because you will need to know where on your canvas to put the paint. Knowing how to get the head the right size, how to foreshorten, how to apply perspective, how to get the whole figure on the page, how to arrange all the elements of a still life into a pleasing composition, how to shape tree branches so that your tree looks like a live oak instead of a willow, and how not to get lost inside the intricate petals of a rose–all these things are basic drawing skills.
Once you know drawing basics, painting is a lot easier to learn.
“John” Sketch by Theresa Bayer
Myth #3 – The more detailed it is, the more realistic it will look.
Realism is based on structure, not on detail. For instance, the average adult body proportion is 7 1/2 heads high, and the average human hand is 3/4 the length of the face (these facts are available in any figure drawing class, or in any figure anatomy book).
If you get the head too big and the hands too small your figure will not look realistic no matter how beautifully you portray the details of eyelashes, knuckles, fingernails, or philtrum. Furthermore, you can never really get all the details down.
Think of a single leaf. It is more complex than you can ever draw. You could never get every single vein, every single chloroplast, every cell, every molecule. And you wouldn’t need to. Drawing is an illusion. You learn the basic structure of a thing, you put that structure on the paper, and OK, a few select details, and presto! You end up with an arrangement of shapes and lines and darks and lights that look like a leaf, or a face, or a still life arrangement.
“Monday A.M. Grackle” Watercolor by Theresa Bayer
Theresa Bayer is a professional artist in Austin, Texas who is at home in her medium whether she is doing watercolors, acrylics, sketches, sculpture, caricatures and ceramic art. She received her B.F.A. from the University of Texas at Austin. See more samples of her work at her website http://www.tbarts.com/ and her three blogs — her fine arts blog: http://tbarts.blogspot.com/, her fun art blog: http://tbarts2.blogspot.com/ and her watercolors blog: http://waterlark.blogspot.com/
Theresa follows her own advice, by the way. She is never without a sketchbook and she rarely passes on an opportunity to pull out her paints for an impromptu plein-air painting session. If you ever get a chance to take a drawing class that she occasionally offers in the Austin area, jump on it!