My art teacher in grade/middle school wasn’t much on teaching technique as letting the kids “tap into their creativity” by doing basically whatever we wanted.
Fun, but I still draw and paint like a drunk eight-year-old.
Does anyone have any leads on online guides or lessons on basic art techniques (preferably free or cheap)?
This is a good place to start.
A lot of people use the Internet to learn more about art. I’d also recommend getting the drawing book, “How to Draw on the Right Side of the Brain.” That book is quite remarkable. Here’s the web site. Check out the gallery with the “Before” and “After” pictures. It’ll make you a believer.
Good luck! You can do it!
Honestly speaking, I’ve got a degree in studio art from a major university, and I’ve never had anyone teach me technique. That’s not what they teach. Art instruction, at least at the university level, is all theory and the capability to express yourself through your work. I guess they just expect you to figure out the materials side yourself.
I don’t think anyone can teach you to draw or paint the way you can be taught math. I mean, I’m sure there are people out there who are willing to show you how to reproduce things on paper, just go pick up a matchbook or watch daytime TV for an ad for “Art Instruction Schools of America” ;), but really, you don’t need it if you want to make art. Art isn’t about how well you reproduce something, you can use a camera for that. It’s about what you say by representing something on paper that matters. Picasso was into photo-realism at one point. He got over it by the time he was about twelve.
I guess I should clarify. Yes, it’s important to be able to draw realistically as a basis for other things. You can learn that yourself by practicing. A lot. Go to an art supply store and get a pad of newsprint, a pad of Bristol paper (I personally prefer the charcoal paper, but I like texture, many people don’t) and a pack of Mars-Lumograph drawing pencils. Get to know your 2B and 4B. Pick some things to draw, actual objects. Don’t use photographs (at least at first) because the camera can be very distorting and you’ll pick up bad habits. Practice. Draw something, and then spend a lot of time comparing it to what you actually see. Learn to draw what you see, not what you think you see. Draw something, then really look at the object. Adjust every single line and angle until your paper is a network of scribbles. Then draw it again. And again. And again. Compare the proportions of each line, the distance from one line to another on the object itself then on your paper. When you can line-draw resonably well, then practice drawing with no lines whatsoever, only working in shades. Remember that there are no lines in nature.
Do you want to learn to paint in acrylics, oils, watercolors, gouache?
Oh, I forgot. Kneaded rubber. Throw away every eraser in your house, and get some kneaded rubber. Play with it a lot, stretching and mooshing it around. The more you work it, the more junk it’ll absorb, it also cleans the eraser. I’ve used kneaded rubbers until they’re black with charcoal dust. I love those things.
Okay, but I love office and drawing supplies like other people love puppies. I love puppies, too. You get the point.
You may also want to get some vine charcoal or compressed charcoal. I personally like compressed charcoal far more, but if you’re into neat and tidy, go with the vine charcoal. Do not use this material over white carpet or anywhere you plan to keep clean. Use it a lot, it’s fun
I want to reiterate. You don’t need to give anyone any money to tell you how to draw. It’s as simple as really learning to look at what you’re drawing, and eliminating the need to outline everything. Draw in shades. Learn to use the negative space as much as the positive space in your work, often what you don’t put on the paper is just as important as what you do put down.
Okay, I’m done now
I studied illustration in an art school in L.A., and we were “taught” many techniques, and let me tell you, those Figure Drawing and Anatomy classes did help my drawing skills a lot. Granted, I came into the classes with a pretty decent understanding of how to handle graphite and paint, and my drawing skills were pretty decent, but man, oh man. How those classes did help.
The “Right Side of the Brain” book is quite remarkable at helping you learn to see what is really there instead of drawing “symbols” of what you think is there. I got that book when I was already pretty accomplished at drawing, and I still loved it and got a lot out of it. It’s a wonderful book.
But MixieArmadillo is right—there’s more to drawing than just drawing accurately. You’ve gotta have something to say! However, a good mastery of the fundimentals (drawing, color, composition) will help you express what you want to express without feeling frustration at your technical ineptitude.
An understanding of color and composition, for instance, is still needed even for works that are not “representational” (realistic). I’ve seen works by people with no understanding of color, and believe me, it ain’t pretty. (On many levels!)
Heh. The drawing in shades and negative space stuff is what I’m looking for instruction on. Mainly because I don’t have a clue what that is.
Thanks for the links and the advice!
Here’s a little page explaining “negative shapes.”
Shading is a little more complex (not hard, but complex) and you can learn it. The “Right Brain” book is an excellent and tried-and-true book. I’m gonna keep on harping on that book. I was mighty impressed with it when I first read it and my opinion has not changed.
The Ride Side of the Brain books keeps getting suggested in these threads and, since I really want to draw more than stick men standing in a stick field, I intend to buy it. If you want a sample, Amazon has something like 20 sample pages up.