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Being good at drawing: Are we there yet?

Being good at drawing: Are we there yet? on artiful painting demos by sandrine pelissier
Drawing / Thoughts

Being good at drawing: Are we there yet?

being good at drawing

Drawing is one of those things: when someone is good at it and the drawing seems to flow fast and effortlessly, it actually  pretty much looks like magic. The only logic explanation being that the fairy of being good at drawing did bless this person as a baby.

Being good at drawing: Are we there yet?

The truth is that, as most things that seem to go effortlessly, drawing is actually requiring a lot of training and practice to look effortless.  I started attending life drawing classes every week at 195 studios and am really enjoying it as much as I find it frustrating at times.

I noticed we have different types of drawers at the classes, we have the fast drawers that seem to do better with very fast poses that require you to bypass the thinking process and make a more direct eye-hand connection. Those drawers make great gesture drawing, usually full of energy and very stylized, and they might finish early or do more than one drawing for the longer poses.  Then we have the slow drawers, who are doing better with the longer poses. I am one of those and am actually now focusing on only one part of the body for the 1 and 2 minutes poses as I usually don’t have enough time to draw the whole body and have trouble working with too much time pressure. I am a “slow drawer”, I like to take my time, measure, come back and correct.

how to draw really good


The process is frustrating, some classes you seem to make a break through progress and going forward, the next class you are back to square one, it is not a regular curve of progress. We are used to look for shortcuts: loose 10 pounds in two weeks, learn a language in 10 days… the truth is that most things that last require time and commitment.

Then there is the question about making a difference between mistakes and style. I think the visible difference is in control, we see  style as being a choice and mistakes as being not a choice but lack of control. Control comes with practice.

It is difficult to explain but very visible when we look at a work of art if we look at a personal style or at mistakes made by lack of control.

The good thing with mistakes is that they make you progress, until they either disappear or become part of your own style.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

– Scott Adams

What do you think is most challenging when drawing from life?

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Comments (11)

  1. I love the quote too. In fact, it spurred some ideas. And in reflecting on the drawing, it is the quiet discipline. I am really slow too. Way too slow, but it’s because I still lack the coordination (and in my case – still have trouble with dimensions), but this is the wonder to me of my artistic life…the process of learning is a treasure to me. I am on an adventure. Thanks for this post – I gotta say, when I see your work, and then hear you speak as a student, I am humbled and encouraged.:-)

    1. Hello Harmony,
      Thanks for your comment ! I think I will always be a student and to me that is part of what is exciting in the process of making art, you never stop to learn.
      Keep on drawing !

  2. I really like that Scott Adams quote.

  3. Hi Sandrine,

    Good observation about the different drawing styles… I have always admired people that can translate what they see into the marks they make using their unique voice mistakes and all….


    1. The most challenging part for me is not to overwork my drawing eg not to put too much tone in. I think life drawing is the most difficult and satisfying art practice of all. But such a buzz when it works!

      1. yes seascapesaus, I have the same issue sometimes, knowing when to stop can be challenging.

        1. It is also an issue in painting, isn’t it. With your watercolour work are you always clear about the finishing touches? with acrylics I can always scratch out, wipe off or cover an over-working but takes longer that way!

          1. Yes it is, I finished a watercolor today and was facing that question at the end of the process.
            Usually if I am really indecisive I put the painting aside for one day or two and then am able to take a decision easier.

    2. Thanks Megan 🙂 Yes when it is working well there is something fascinating and a bit magic in life drawing.

  4. The key to life-drawing is to use fluid lines and not be too concerned with it looking absolutely perfect. Focusing on just one part of the body may not be the direction you want to go. Try starting with the wide gestures of the figure, then slowly create detail over the entire drawing.

    1. Thanks nmbpro, I am actually alternating both exercises, I try to get the whole figure and then sometimes try to focus on a smaller part. I find my 1 minutes drawings way too close to stick figures drawings to my taste 🙂

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