Art, Learning how to draw, Portraits

Never mind thinking you can’t draw!

Welcome back.

I didn’t excel at drawing at School and never did an art course.  I didn’t even know I could draw until 2005, when I did the rudimentary drawings shown in the earlier blog (the elephant and bear on the chair, and yes that was supposed to be Kylie).

I did feel, that after a few drawings I was slowly starting to improve, and most importantly could see where I was going wrong and was able to think and apply ways of fixing the picture.  Although I had an aunt who was a professional artist I still think it is that ability rather than innate artistic ability that now lets me produce pictures like the Scarlett Johannson image.

I actually think anyone can draw, and as children we think nothing of it.  I believe as we grow up, we are slowly dissuaded, or dissuade ourselves from thinking that we can continue drawing, and better drawings come in part from practice.

I think learning to draw competently is something anyone can do, and if you’re interested, I’d like to show you how you can do this in my art blogs, this being the first one.


Step 1 – Mindset

The first thing to do is distance yourself from thinking that you can’t draw.  Ever drawn a map for someone else on how to get somewhere, played Pictionary or just doodled at work? You’ve been drawing!

Step 2 – Tools

Ok, the next thing to do is get a pencil, sharpener, eraser and paper.   You don’t need anything fancy, just a standard supermarket bought school pencil and A4 printer paper will do.  You can graduate to fancy pencils and ‘proper’ paper later.


If the pencil has a rubber on the end of it, even better as you won’t have to put the pencil down if you want to erase part of your drawing.

Look at the text written on the pencil, it’ll likely say ‘HB’.  Pencils are graded in hardness with a scale of H numbers representing increasingly harder lead and B numbers representing increasingly softer lead.  An ‘HB’ pencil is bang in the middle and ideal for starting out.


Step 3 – Find something to draw

Ok, I have to admit my preferred subjects are people, and I’d like to demonstrate a drawing with a famous actor/actress’s face.  This may seem quite daunting as a first picture, especially if you’ve heard someone say “Oh faces are the most difficult thing to draw”.   They can be the most rewarding pictures to draw.

It  shouldn’t be.  You see faces all the time, and you’re very familiar with how they look or should look.  That last bit about ‘should look’ is quite important.  If you see a caricature of someone, you know that its a distorted reflection of someone’s face.  You know that its wrong – ok its cool as a caricature but it isn’t what the subject actually looks like.  Your mind assesses how accurate a picture is behind the scenes.  You don’t have to work at.  Behind the scenes your mind is doing quite complex mathematics to guide you to your opinion, but that’s for another day.  You can use this ability to judge your efforts.

Ok, I’m going to google famous actresses and choose one.  For this exercise, you may find it easier if you use the same picture.
meghan pop 1


There’ll be very few people who don’t recognise Meghan Markle, Prince Harry’s girlfriend.

There is a great centred forward facing shot of Meghan at google image.  It’s not right up to date, because it comes from the TV Guide article on the Suits TV show but its very useful for demonstration purposes.

I’ve added an amended copy of it here, so as not to blatantly infringe copyright, and am in discussions with CBS interactive with regard using the actual image here.


Step 4 – Draw it

No advice here – at this stage we just want a starting point.

So, get your A4 and pencil and draw what you see.  You might think you’ve done rather well, and may surprise yourself.  I think most people that try this will feel that.  It doesn’t matter if you think your first attempt is terrible.   It is important, whatever it’s like, for you to hold on to this drawing.

Whatever you draw, and irrespective of how you think it’s turned out you should keep your pictures.  They provide a visual diary of your progress, and at times when you think you’re not getting anywhere, can be the thing that inspires you to keep drawing.

I’d love to hear what you have to say.  If anyone has comments on this article, good or bad, would like to ‘like’ it, or want to follow this series of articles, please hit the appropriate WordPress buttons.

Next time, I’m going to discuss a first image I’m going to try to draw as if I’d just started drawing, to show what can go wrong.  In addition, I’ll show how I’d approach the initial stages of the drawing now.

Look forward to seeing you then.

All the best.  Ian.


2 thoughts on “Never mind thinking you can’t draw!

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