“Learn to Draw!” and The Epitaph of The Unfortunate Artist.

Across the full range of classes that I teach, I get students who come to my classes every year who say things like…

“Oh, I can’t draw in that loose way, everything has to be perfect… so I can’t sketch.”

“I can only draw in pencil!”

“Hmmm, I only really do Manga* style…”

I can draw “cartoony” but I just can’t draw real people!”

“No, I can draw realistically, but I just like this style better…”

Becoming reliant on a single, facile/safe “stylistic conceit”, rather than underpinning skills when it comes to drawing, is a sure fire way to find yourself stagnating while other students pass you by, especially at an early stage of a young creatives learning pathway.

*Manga in particular is a hiding to nothing, many students trying to apply a “style” to no underlying, “Solid Drawing”. – Which unfortunately is like scheduling the painting of a wall before the bricks to build it have even been delivered.

Richard Williams relates an anecdote in his great book The Animators Survival Kit about a note he found pinned on his studio wall during the making of Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

– Epitaph of an Unfortunate Artist –

He found a formula

for drawing

comic rabbits:

This formula for

drawing comic

rabbits paid,

So in the end he

could not

change the

tragic habits

This formula for

drawing comic

rabbits made.

Robert Graves

(Note: the above line breaks appear as they do in Richard Williams book [a quote, clearly
miss-quoted, and not by Williams I might add] and not as they appear in Graves original)

Original line breaks >HERE<.

– for jio, sorry you found the above so upsetting.

…as Williams points out, Life drawing is the Antidote to this.

In all honesty, the best thing you can do, if you REALLY want to draw, is just to do it!

Draw everything! don’t limit yourself to one style, draw large, draw small, change media, drawing charcoal, pencils, pen, paint, Damn it! take a stick, break it in half and dip it in ink (I’ve made my own students draw with nails dipped in black paint before) …but in particular, and this is really the clincher (and the the first hurdle for the belligerent student) draw from life – Still Life (Objects in Isolation or Combination); Life Drawing (Formal Figure Drawing); and Drawing in/from the Environment (urban areas, landscape, waterscapes, and people just going about their daily lives).

Add to that a few underpinning studies to do with basic Anatomy, Perspective and the rendering of Basic Primatives in combination.

I’ll leave Animator and Designer Saul Bass to have the last word on this…

Some people to take a look at for starters:

James Jean, Rembrandt, Leonardo, Tarosan,


2 responses to ““Learn to Draw!” and The Epitaph of The Unfortunate Artist.

  1. Pingback: Drawing – it’s a Fundamental Skill for the Creative …and The Epitaph of of The Unfortunate Artist « apophenia inc.

  2. Pingback: Drawing & Traditional Rendering – “Back To Basics” (Work in Progress). | apophenia inc.

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