012. Why Should I Draw?

I often get asked why I choose watercolor (or painting in general) as my primary medium. I'll save that story for another day. But new artists sometimes wonder where to start, or what medium is best for them?

Bicycles, 2003. Left: Colored Pencil (straight lines only). Right: Pen (stippling only).

The truth is, for the majority of my life, I did not paint. For more than 15 years, I drew things.

Still life, 2009. Graphite on paper.

Still life, 2009. Graphite on paper.

Drawing has almost NO material investment, and a smaller learning curve than a lot of other mediums. Growing up, I always had a set of colored pencils or pens, or graphite nearby.

Vase, 2006. Ceramics.

Light Table, 2005. Mixed media: wood, glass, neon, converter, electronics.

I also experimented during college with ceramics, glass blowing, neon, furniture design, graphic design, and mixed media sculpture. After college, I bought some acrylic paint because I had a strong desire to create abstract art. It was just a hobby that I did once in awhile. I even sold a few to friends over the years. And since joining Twitch 2 years ago, I’ve been painting non-stop! But the one consistency with my art is that I've always drawn things.

Abstract Painting, 2011. Acrylic on canvas.

Abstract Painting, 2011. Acrylic on canvas.

Abstract Painting, 2011. Acrylic on canvas.

I’ve found, in any medium, having a strong grasp on drawing has drastically helped when it comes to understanding form, composition, and lighting.

Starting out with drawing means your mind learns to break down a subject into it’s simplest form: line. You then move on to learning different types of shading (cross hatching, stippling, soft shading, etc). During this process, the basic concept of translating 3D to 2D is instilled within your mind.

Still life. Prisma Markers on computer paper.

Still life. Prisma Markers on computer paper.

When you begin painting, there are several more layers of complication: color, depth, layering of the paint, and timing (oil, acrylic, and watercolor all dry differently). If you go into it with a good understanding of form, perspective, composition, etc. from your drawing studies - your paintings will be much stronger!

So my advice: draw.

Draw in your free time, on napkins, in sketchbooks, with No. 2 pencils or fancy graphite sticks. Keep developing your knowledge of form rendering. Your paintings will thank you!

Where to start?

I started out drawing fanart and still life. In college, we were required to draw for a minimum of 10 minutes a day, even if we didn't have class. During figure drawing class, the entire first hour was spent drawing different poses of the model, each for 10 minutes. Rapid gesture drawing was huge in learning how to translate what you see into 2D!

Ink wash drawing, 2012. 10 Minutes, figure drawing class. 

If you don’t have a model, try finding pose references online, and set a timer for 10 minutes. Give yourself an hour and just draw as many as you can.

Gandalf the Grey, 2016. 1 hour. Graphite and chalk on toned paper.

Fanart is an awesome way to keep yourself inspired. Do you love Lord of the Rings? Or Batman? Find some awesome inspiring reference images online and try to copy them.

As your skill develops, you can move on to developing your own concepts! You'd be surprised how much you will improve if you devote even 10 minutes per day to drawing. (Note: copying master artwork is a strategy to develop your skill, but be careful of plagiarism. Use it has a way to study, and move on to your own concepts.)

If you have any questions or comments, please leave a message!