advice for a young artist


"Take what you want and leave the rest."
There's a lot of good suggestions out there, but they are only that - suggestions. Use what seems useful and leave the rest for later.

try drawing something you’ve never drawn before

try using different mediums to make art: draw, paint, sculpt, build, compute, photography, video, audio, writing, more

fill the page

find the underlying shapes of what you're drawing

don't always use solid lines, try dotted or implied lines

entertain yourself. If you can make yourself laugh, or feel emotional, or shocked, then you’re onto something :)

Draw from observation. Draw lots of still lives, whatever is on the desk, or bottles and cans and flowers arranged nice. Draw cats and dogs because they move around a lot and you'll learn how to draw quick gestures. Real life is better than drawing from a photograph. But drawing from a photograph is good too.


The Anatomy Coloring Book, by Wynn Kapit, Lawrence M. Elson
- An amazing way to learn muscles and human anatomy.

Drawing From the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards
- A classic beginner's guide to drawing techniques. A lot of good stuff of techniques and things.

The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron
- A self help new age approach to being an artist. Many worth while tidbits.

The Animator's Survival Kit, by Richard Williams
- Awesome book on principles of traditional animation, if they want to do that

The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri
-1920s art student book

Astonish Yourself: 101 Experiments in the Philosophy of Everyday Life, by Roger-Pol Droit
-interesting thought experiments

Draw a World, by Ed Emberley
- a dictionary of how to draw cool simple stick figures

Creative Perspective for Artists and Illustrators, by Ernest W. Watson
- Might be the single greatest perspective drawing book.

I had a teacher when I was young who really encouraged to not ever erase. a lot of time can be spent drawing and erasing.

Another thing is to learn to draw bold single lines. It is instinctive to start by drawing sketchy lines that repeat themselves. It's helpful and fun to learn to draw the confident, bold, long line. This can often be achieved by adding speed to drawing the line. A faster stroke will make the line less wiggly.

Then for more advanced drawing line techniques, there is line thickness control. There's sort of two main elements of line thickness. going from soft to hard pressure. And going for hard to soft pressure. And then a third which is a combination of the two, coming in soft, going to hard, then going out soft. There's also a distinction between 'pushing' into the paper, and pulling away from the paper. It could be worth while to spend a sheet of paper on each style of stroke. I did exercises like this when I worked as a caricature artist in 2015.

Another philosophical thing I encourage is the difference between technique and expression. Technique comes with years of practice. But everyone can be expressive. Stick figures are nothing to scoff at, they are extremely expressive.

If he's interested in trying traditional drawing, one thing I would say that I wish was said to me is - remember that drawing is sculptural. It's hard to resist going right in for the details; an eye, mouth, whatever you want the final image to express. But a good likeness in portraiture can be achieved by building with shapes, like sculpting. If you can get the shape of somebody's nugget right, people will recognize them before the features are even added.

Coming from a pretty straight-forward visual art background — drawing from life was the turning point that transformed my skills. Before that point I had always copied, imagined, and emulated works. This was all fine, and was working for a long time, but it wasn't until life drawing that I started to really see things differently. It was about having the ability to gradually comprehend. Creating became about how I saw the world in front of me, and paying attention to its nuances. It provided an opportunity to move around a 3D object — to pick it up and realize why porcelain reflects light a different way than glass. It was about seeing. The lines, the forms, the negative space. And through a persistent training and practice of interpreting what I saw, I slowly got better at it. Better at translating what I saw, and most of the time what I thought I saw into a 2D format.

Over time, more and more methods and techniques have been introduced to me (that, I think, will never end) -- basics like understanding light and shadow, to more complex approaches on composition and color theory.

I guess that's the important part -- to keep at it. I'm not much of a believer in natural talent. I've seen people with very little drawing skill develop into amazing masterful artists, far surpassing my own 'talents', because they had the vigor, interest, and discipline to continue their journey into the known and unknown.

Well, once there's a firm (not expert) understanding of the fundamentals, I think it's safe to explore communication with art, and that's a whole other can o' worms.

If that's something some of your young artist friends are prepared for, here are a few exercises that I've always enjoyed, which produced some good pieces:

Set up a still life and draw it from several different positions. They don't need to be drastic, but enough to change your perspective slightly.
Do your drawings in this order;
Five 1-minute sketches
Three 3-minute sketches
One 5-min
One 15-min

Another one is best worked through in a group, but it doesn't matter that much. Pick a bunch of words -- nouns, verbs, adjectives. Someone randomly picks a word from each group to form a three-word statement. Everyone makes their drawing based on this; A Three-word drawing. (Eg., Bear, Crawl, Happy) etc :D You can start off doing short 5-min ones, and end on a longer one. Sometimes it's cool for everyone to pick the one they liked the most and make a final piece out of it.

to see things through to the end.
I used to give up way too soon and not finish projects ... just move on to the next thing without finishing the first.
I started forcing myself to finish things and learn SO much more now from the process plus when you have something finished even if it's not your favorite at the moment, you can go back a month or two later and look/listen with fresh eyes/ears and be MUCH more objective in your evaluation of the work.