View Full Version : Can anybody learn to draw?

Paul Pless
12-01-2010, 07:36 AM
Or does it require some minimum level of natural talent?

I doodle and sketch a pretty good bit, but I'm never ever satisfied with the outcome.

12-01-2010, 08:00 AM
Anyone can draw. But an artistic person would never ask such a question so probably won't ever draw well. Billions of people around the world won't be able to tell the difference between good and poor (amateurish) drawing anyway. Natural talent is a big part of it. Why the interest in drawing?

12-01-2010, 08:05 AM
Yes, you can learn. I thought I had no talent until I took Drawing 101 in college. It will take some practice, and a good teacher sure helps, although my mother got pretty good learning from a book.
Did I say some practice? I meant a lot of practice.

Flying Orca
12-01-2010, 08:12 AM
Get the book Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain. If anything can help someone who "can't draw", it's that book - I speak from experience.

Paul Pless
12-01-2010, 08:14 AM
Why the interest in drawing?i'd like to draw better schooners of course :D

12-01-2010, 08:16 AM
practice..I started at an early age.

john l
12-01-2010, 08:20 AM
Drawing is the art of seeing.
Drawing is a communications tool like language.

Joe (SoCal)
12-01-2010, 08:25 AM
Paul get a job at Google


If I had known growing up that there was such a job title as Chief Doodler, all my aspirations would have pointed that direction. Michael Lopez is the man in charge of Google's logo doodles. And this is his team.

The doodle tradition has been around since the very earliest days of the company, according to this terrific San Fransisco Chronicle profile. Back then, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin used clip art—turning the logo's second "o" into a stick figure—to indicate that they were out of office. Specifically, at Burning Man.

The process of selecting and drawing doodles wasn't formalized until 2003, according to original lead doodler Dennis Hwang:

"Larry and Sergey had done some of these themselves," Hwang said of the first doodles. "And they used freelance artists. The doodles didn't have any consistency, and they covered mainly the big U.S. holidays. So when I joined, we started a slightly more formal process and looked at how to have more fun with it."
Today, Lopez leads a four-person doodle team in Google's effort to make the homepage a place that celebrates, memorializes, plays Pac-Man—anything at all, really, that the imagination allows.

It's a motley crew, as creative and lean as the doodles they create. And they're more than overdue for their own closeup. [SF Gate; Image credit: Lea Suzuki - The Chronicle]

12-01-2010, 08:41 AM
practice..I started at an early age.

I suppose as long as the pistol fits your hand....


12-01-2010, 09:11 AM
Can anybody learn to draw?
I'm not sure, I've only been teaching drawing for forty years or so.
During that time the only students who didn't seem to learn were the few who wouldn't try.
It's a little like learning to play a musical instrument, in the beginning it doesn't sound much like music, but if you keep at it and don't get discouraged you will probably get better.
A good teacher is helpful, but there are books that can get you started. Orca mentioned "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. Orca is right, the drawing exercises Ms. Edwards presents do work. There are reasons to question the "bifurcated brain" theory on which Ms. Edwards bases her system, but nevertheless she has taught a lot of people to draw.

Chris Coose
12-01-2010, 09:57 AM
A couple of basic drawing books and one good class helped me to learn I was/am an artist.
Take an enlarged photo and try to draw the basic lines. Then take a piece of tracing paper and discover how the lines really go. Study that.
Study the masters.
Go buy a big pad of newsprint, some charcoal sticks and a chamois as an eraser.
Tell Kat to go sit in a chair and draw her and the chair. (Don't get to portrait stuff just yet). A lot.

The business of practicing seeing through the "artist's eye" in all that you see each day is an excellent adventure into a new world of perception.

12-01-2010, 10:05 AM
Mom kept a lot of my drawings form 5-6 years old. I could copy any newspaper cartoon I saw, later drawing stuff around granddads place...get newsprint, pencils and just sit and draw everything you see. I've never had a course on prospective drawings, but those were the ones that I sold the most of when I really worked at it......just draw everything in sight and get a feel for proportions.

12-01-2010, 10:42 AM
Putting sarcasm aside, I'll make an observation:

Katey used to teach, and when drawing on the board, her students would give her "negative art points". She is not a good freehand draftsman. But we took a painting class at one point, and she did much better with her acrylics than she had expected. There are many kinds of drawing, and being poor at one kind doesn't make you bad at all of them. Drawing is not all about being able to make a perfect line. There's shading, color, composition, texture, and different media all to be taken into account.

Find your media. Find your own style.


Dan McCosh
12-01-2010, 10:51 AM
Don't really know the answer, but my youngest daughter could draw very well about the same time she could walk. Years of art school didn't seem to enhance the ability to create an image, either a drawing or sculpture, but did alter what she chose to express. That doesn't address how much you can learn, but I would think it is quite similar to the ability to learn to play an instrument, as opposed to having talent as a musician. Most people can learn to play, but musicians seem to be have the music in their head, and it comes out quickly when they pick up almost any instrument.

12-01-2010, 10:51 AM
Take up fiddling, it's easier.

12-01-2010, 11:00 AM
I think that most people can learn to draw what they see somewhat accurately; expressively is something else. Edward's book has some good exercises.

12-01-2010, 11:29 AM
A second vote for "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain." If nothing else, it trains you to actually SEE what you're trying to draw, instead of "seeing" the mental simplification of the thing that you've carried around for years.

12-01-2010, 11:32 AM
"Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain."
It might change everything...

12-01-2010, 01:28 PM
If it's something you enjoy doing, you can learn and I found the better you get at it, the more enjoyable it is. My recommendation would be any instructional manuals that explain the basic rules of perspective. A common mistake that many artists who draw/paint boats are prone to is that the boat never quite appears to be sitting in the water correctly and the reason usually stems from a lack of understanding how perspective works.

Start out with the simpler exercises (like the image below) until you are comfortable with them and feel you have a firm grasp of the method then move on to more complex shapes.

Once you have 1, 2 and 3 point perspectives figured out, you should notice more satisfaction from your outcomes.

If you have used book stores available, they may have old textbooks from drawing courses that will be full of good info.


12-01-2010, 01:36 PM
I can't draw a crooked line on purpose. But once I spent about 15 hours and came up with a drawing of my dining room table. Learned a lot, but it too waaaay too much time.

12-01-2010, 01:50 PM
Probably like learning to sing. I firmly believe that mostly anyone can learn to become competent (i.e. can learn to hold a tune, and to sing with a pleasant tone). To get there mostly requires the desire to get there, combined with some decent instruction, and careful practice.

But there are some people who simply can't sing, and ought not to be allowed to try. Probably the same's true of people holding pencils.

12-01-2010, 01:51 PM
If you mean draw as in what an artist does, I say no. Some have it and some don't, but there is probably many in between that can, with practice, make a stab at it. But there are ones, like me, at the bottom of that spectrum that get totally lost. Of course I can do paint by the numbers and I might pull off a Pollock, but beyond that I'm lost.

Now if you mean something like drafting, sure anyone can do that. I did hand drafting of structural steel for five years and while I was never the best I did fairly well with it, at least well enough I never got fired for my work. My biggest problem even than was the freehand lettering that we did.


12-01-2010, 01:51 PM
I dunno even have a right side of the brain, I have the least amount of Artist talent known to man.

It took me 3 years to figure out a G chord.

I only do stick men.

Im not allowed to pick out paint colors.

I have no idea what matching clothes should be.

Im amazed at anyone that paints.

Course everybody is a artist here and paints Haystack Rock or Beach/wave scenes so somebody has to fix the roofs!

12-01-2010, 02:12 PM
Sometimes I think that the connection from my right brain to the rest of me is broken. Although I love art and music I can do neither.


12-01-2010, 02:27 PM
I can't draw worth a damn, though my wife and daughter are really good. I think for many of us, we could become competent technicians if we put the time into learning how to look closely enough, and paying attention to the rules people have developed over the ages.

In any artistic genre though, there's a big difference between being a competent technician ... and having something interesting to say once you've got your technique together to be able to say it.

Joe (SoCal)
12-01-2010, 02:30 PM
I can draw, always could. I'm the guy at the cafe table that sketches a portrait of the cute girl across the room on the paper table cloth and she blushes ;)

But I do believe it can be taught and practice helps a lot. I know I was much better at when I was in art school having 6 hr studio classes than now. It still comes in handy every day when you just need to draw something to show someone what you want or even directions.

Bruce Hooke
12-01-2010, 06:25 PM
In my opinion Tom hit it right on the nose. With practice I think anyone can learn to make a decent representation of what they see in front of them and that is a worthy goal on its own.

However, it is a big leap from there to making an interesting and dare I say artistic drawing. With practice I think anyone can get at least some distance down that road, but it takes a willingness to put in a lot of hard work. At a certain point there is that final something that some people have and others do not.

One of the ironies of drawing is that it is quite often the simplest drawings that are the hardest to do really well. It is a mark of a truly great master that with just a few lines they can capture the essence of what they are drawing. However, don't let this scare you from starting down the road!

Ed Harrow
12-01-2010, 08:48 PM
After my 'excursion' I was 'prescribed' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain I dunno if it helped.

The real thing to remember is every five year old is an artist. Ask them to draw something...

12-01-2010, 08:56 PM
The real thing to remember is every five year old is an artist.

I was once at a scientific conference in Florida that was sharing space with an exhibition of children's art. Some things seem universal: a house is a triangle on top of a rectangle, even if there are practically no houses in Florida built like that. However, I was baffled by the trees. Instead of a triangle or a ball on top of a stick, they were drawn as an X on top of a stick. Then it struck me... palm trees!

12-01-2010, 09:48 PM
I am very temped to get involved in this conversation, but I think I will not.

12-01-2010, 10:26 PM
I was lucky enough to have a rather good painter for a mother. Watching her work was not only a series of practical lessons in art, but a constant pleasure. Starting with a blank canvas and tubes of oily goop, and with a certain amount of frustration and bad language, she could bring a person or a place to life. The scent of turpentine still makes me happy.

She sold most of her work, but we have a few of her paintings on the walls. When I look at them, long after her death, it's as if she was in the room. Hence the old saying: ars longa, vita brevis.

I'm a good sketcher and doodler, with not enough patience for the deeper game.

Anyone can learn the elements: materials, technique, form, perspective, shading, tone, composition and balance. But to mobilise those elements according to one's imaginative vision, and have the result come across to the viewer— in whatever terms— as art. That takes talent and inspiration.

And luck.

12-01-2010, 10:36 PM
Anyone can learn to draw, almost anyone can learn to be a human photocopier, it takes something special to really stand out as an artist though.

I'll (fiftieth?) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It is a good manual. Depending on what kind of stuff you're interested in some of the kind of cheesy "how to draw comics" sort of books can be useful. They help explain motion, posture, facial expressions in an idiot friendly manner.

12-02-2010, 12:11 AM
If you can write your name,you can draw. That the results of other attempts don't meet your expectations is the problem. Presenting visual information,as pencil marks, and having someone else interpret it as you intended, does not happen with a few art classes. Find someone who is good at it,most recreational instructors aren't, they don't have to be, and get a start. Learn to see first, your hand will catch up later. Draw from nature,record what you see, to the best of your ability, and your ability will improve. Every week,pin your best attempt on the wall, next to the others,to encourage or torture you. Good luck.

Paul Pless
12-02-2010, 06:35 AM
I am very temped to get involved in this conversation, but I think I will not.I wish you would, there's no trolling or flaming going on, its a pretty pleasant conversation.

12-02-2010, 07:12 AM
Anyone can learn to draw, almost anyone can learn to be a human photocopier, it takes something special to really stand out as an artist though.

I'll (fiftieth?) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It is a good manual. Depending on what kind of stuff you're interested in some of the kind of cheesy "how to draw comics" sort of books can be useful. They help explain motion, posture, facial expressions in an idiot friendly manner.

I used to draw quite well ,'quite well' being the operative .I went to art school and realised that most were as good as me , others very much better ,so I started making things instead , somehow 3D was more satisfying than 2D .I still draw and occasionally try watercolour ...in a very basic fashion .

The answer is Paul ,that most people can draw to some degree .The degree varies but practise and more practise are what makes the difference .A friendly and constructive critic is good too,essential in fact .Drawing is a bit like most manual skills , if you have some ability it can be developed , much like woodwork or ceramics .Think of it as a trade , a skill and put in the hours .People like us may never be brilliant but we can do reasonably satisfying work .

The other thing that is useful is not to try to reinvent the wheel .Look at work you like , study the composition , the media , the line thicknesses , the light and shade , light sources .In other words mentally disassemble things you like the way you would a nicely built boat .With the boat you know how it was put together , you know every member so the mechanical stuff is easy ...all you have to do is decide how big , how long , what bend .The mechanical technical part is obvious .It's the same with any skill , get very good at the mechanics and the rest is a lot easier .

12-02-2010, 08:15 AM
Paul, what is it that you want to portray? What media are you using?


12-02-2010, 08:55 AM
I wish you would, there's no trolling or flaming going on, its a pretty pleasant conversation.+1. Considering the comment you made earlier, I'd love to hear more.

12-02-2010, 11:16 AM
Anyone can draw, but the real trick is seeing.

There is a normal disconnect between the eye and the brain, the brain tends to interpret everything in symbols. If you draw in symbols, well it won't be quite right.

A simple way to get started is to just outline the stuff that isn't there (often referred to as a contour drawing (outline) of the negative space).
Get the book...

12-02-2010, 03:12 PM
i'd like to draw better schooners of course :D

Art and draftsmanship are cousins, not twins. I spent four years in art college and one of the cleverest assignments we were ever given was in our first drawing class. The instructor said 'For next week I want you to do the best drawing you can.' That was it. No other conditions or parameters were set. Twenty students brought in drawings that were entirely different from one another. What sort of drawing did you have in mind? Can you post an example of what a drawing is to you?


John Turpin
12-02-2010, 05:07 PM
If you can write your name,you can draw.

Dang. I'm out.

Phillip Allen
12-02-2010, 05:09 PM
I can draw right handed but not left handed (might shoot my leg off)

Paul Pless
12-02-2010, 05:43 PM
Can you post an example of what a drawing is to you?I think these are all brilliant, I also like Paladin's sketches but can't find any right now.



Milo Christensen
12-02-2010, 05:56 PM
. . . every five year old is an artist. Ask them to draw something...

Wouldn't it be great, indescribable really, to have the confidence of a five year old with the knowledge of 6 decades?

Robert Fulghum (http://books.google.com/books?id=XkVGWa0_2csC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=robert+fulghum+five+year+olds&source=bl&ots=ejcOfDyvRm&sig=Gk36gQWHpTc-LpgRqhfuOF23rqA&hl=en&ei=zSL4TKOkDYqy8QPQraT4Cg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&sqi=2&ved=0CCkQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q&f=false)on the transitional differences between 5 year olds and college students, and, gasp, adults of a certain age, as adapted for the stage, in several acts, act one, scenes one and two being most germane to the present discussion.

Michael D. Storey
12-02-2010, 06:19 PM
when the Boys & I started on the Shore House, I started keeping sketch books. Sometimes they held just lists, sometimes sweet things that were said to me onthe telephone at night, but as time went on, they contained more and more sketches. Not renderings, of course; I would never boil anything in fat, but they did become better. I do not consider myself a pencil and paper artist, but I can say that my drawings at 61 are much better than they were at 55.

12-02-2010, 07:26 PM
Some autistic people have shown unusual talent at drawing. There are some parallels between those cases and the technique of drawing 'on the right side of the brain'. Check http://travisithompson.net/artautism/page27.html. Very interesting.

donald branscom
12-02-2010, 07:37 PM
Yes...start simple. It takes work even if you have some talent.
Every person born can draw.
Charcoal 18x24 inches

12-02-2010, 08:03 PM
I think these are all brilliant...

In that case you haven't set the bar too high and you might start just by copying them. Every artist after the first one started out by copying previous art they admired or were inspired by. The Meerkat drawing is quite different from the others and is not especially copyable as the artist clearly has a personal deftness that tends to produce a unique result. If you like the Meerkat one then get a big sketch pad of very cheap newsprint paper and sketch fast, really fast. Draw your schooner in 60 seconds. Flip the page and do another. You may be amazed at how fluid and expressive and delightful very quick sketches are. As for the others, they are more studied with the lines more carefully laid down. These will be the easiest to approximate.

12-02-2010, 08:51 PM
I can't draw. Haven't been able to for 40 years.
About the last 30 I've been using a computer to hone my inability to draw.

Now, my wife-she can put more expression into 3-4 lines on paper than practically anybody I know

12-02-2010, 10:31 PM
Yes, Paul, anyone can learn to draw in a technical manner ... but not in a creative manner ...

(disclaimer: I have not read anything in this post other than your 'topic.'


12-02-2010, 11:37 PM
Dang. I'm out.

Try putting the pointed side of the pencil towards the paper,rubber side doesn't work very well.:D

12-03-2010, 06:36 AM
Found this online . . . I'm not familiar with the book but, judging by its cover, this author obviously has good command of the elusive flat surface. Might be good for some tips and inspiration.


12-03-2010, 08:47 AM
I think I have some potential. I went and bought a box of charcoal a while back.

I fail miserably at getting started, though.

12-03-2010, 10:48 AM
Lots of good info. One thing to add, drawing is like learning a language. Once you do start you need to keep at it. It is very easy to loose proficiency. While taking lots of studio time in college I could make very reasonable watercolors of trout. I was not an artist or artistic by any means, but I was being taught to communicate in drawings at the time (landscape design). I took to CAD much faster and use that professionally. Recently I made a sketch of something I wanted to build and realized that I have regressed to the point that I can't draw anymore. But I have started doing a little practice again and hopefully it comes back quickly.

Good luck, and just like building a boat, the hardest part is getting started.

12-03-2010, 11:00 AM
Sometimes there is nothing more intimidating than a blank sheet of paper!

12-03-2010, 02:39 PM
Can anybody learn to draw?

Yes, I'm fairly certian that somebody can learn to draw...

Tom Montgomery
12-03-2010, 03:00 PM
A free e-book download: The Elements of Drawing by John Ruskin (http://www.e-booksdirectory.com/details.php?ebook=2801).

12-03-2010, 03:05 PM
Sometimes there is nothing more intimidating than a blank sheet of paper!


12-03-2010, 04:45 PM

A quickie that I did just now. On the good side the sheet is no longer blank. It's charcoal and watercolor, not very forgiving, so I was constantly looking for the 'undo' button. But I decided to just go with the flow, it's all good practice.

12-03-2010, 04:57 PM
http://i407.photobucket.com/albums/pp154/paladinsfo1/nurse001.jpg http://i407.photobucket.com/albums/pp154/paladinsfo1/nurse002.jpg

Just takes practice...

12-03-2010, 04:59 PM

LOGO that I did for my company 35-40 years ago.

12-03-2010, 05:05 PM

12-03-2010, 05:07 PM


J. Dillon
12-03-2010, 05:07 PM
Thats terrific Chuck. Being able to cartoon is a great talent.:d

How about doing some of the characters as you perceive them on this here Forum ?:cool:

Joe of CSH would be a great starting subject|;)

PS Get well soon.


Paul Pless
12-03-2010, 05:08 PM
http://i407.photobucket.com/albums/pp154/paladinsfo1/nurse001.jpg http://i407.photobucket.com/albums/pp154/paladinsfo1/nurse002.jpg

You have not let your current health care professionals seen this have you?

Peter Malcolm Jardine
12-03-2010, 05:14 PM
Awesome Chuck!!!

No, Paul, I'm afraid you will not be able to learn to draw.;)

12-03-2010, 05:48 PM
Thats terrific Chuck. Being able to cartoon is a great talent.

How about doing some of the characters as you perceive them on this here Forum ?

Joe of CSH would be a great starting subject

JD....I have...they all went to Lefty at the pub and he has them locked up for future use.

12-11-2010, 11:27 AM
I think these are all brilliant, I also like Paladin's sketches but can't find any right now.

thanks!!! i just stumbled across this post. much appreciated!